Drinking and Exercise: How Alcohol Affects Your Body

Alcohol in your system is detrimental to any kind of fitness activity (except maybe on the dance floor). Here’s how booze wreaks havoc on your regimen.

1. Slower Recovery
A Hard workout drains the glycogen stores (carbs stored in the liver and muscles) and leaves your muscle tissue in need of repair. Alcohol stops the recovery process. High levels of alcohol get rid of  the carbs, leaving your stores 50 percent lower than normal even eight hours later., So sip or snack on a combo of muscle-repairing protein and carbs (think low-fat chocolate milk or peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers) before knocking back a beer.

2. Packed-On Fat
Your body breaks down alcohol before any other macronutrient, metabolising the alcohol over burning fat and carbs. Alcohol also breaks down amino acids and stores them as fat. Especially in the thighs and glutes. It also increases levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), which further encourages fat storage, particularly in your midsection as there are five times as many cortisol receptors there.

3. Disrupted Sleep
Alcohol also slows your muscle recovery, performance and severely disrupts your sleep. In a study of 93 men and women, found that alcohol decreased sleep duration and increased wakefulness (particularly in the second half of the night), especially in women, whose sleep time was decreased by more than 30 minutes over the night. Disrupting the sleep cycle can reduce your human growth hormone output which builds muscle by as much as 70 percent.

4. Depleted Water and Nutrients
Alcohol irritates the stomach lining, which can reduce your capacity to absorb nutrients. It also makes you run to the toilet. For every gram of alcohol you suck down, you pump out 10 milliliters of urine (that’s about 9.5 ounces for two beers). As little as 2 percent dehydration hurts endurance performance. And by the way, you can’t re-hydrate with a dehydrating drink, only water will do.

So ease up on the Booze…especially if you plan to Workout!

Written by Blaise Partridge on behalf of the WA Institute of Martial Arts