Can Alcohol Slow Down the Results of Exercise?

Many people have a guilty conscience after having a few beers or cocktails because they know that sports and alcohol aren't good friends. Do you know how alcohol can slow down the results of exercise?
Can Alcohol Slow Down the Results of Exercise?

Last update: 27 November, 2018

Even if you’re an elite athlete, there’s no denying that we all like to enjoy our free time as well. This is especially true at the weekends when we can relax and have a few alcoholic drinks with friends.

Does alcohol affect training?

Some experts from the Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Health in New Zealand, set out to analyze the effects of alcohol on muscle recovery after intense training. To achieve this, they gathered a group of people with an average age of 23 years who trained regularly. They were subsequently subjected to an eccentric contraction exercise.

Alcohol can have a negative effect on training.

After this exercise, they gave each person an alcoholic drink with a soda. Each participant received 0.02 ounces of alcohol for every pound of their body weight. Meanwhile, another group that took part in the same experiment, was only given an orange juice to make comparisons.

What were the results? Those who drank orange juice had a 12.28- 19 percent decrease in their maximum strength. While those who consumed alcohol suffered a decrease of between 34-40 percent. This means that alcohol can negatively influence the results of a hard workout. In addition to promoting the catabolization of muscles.

Alcohol can curb exercise results during muscle recovery

The muscles grow thanks to the growth hormone. If this level is very low, muscle growth will be affected. Other studies show that alcohol lowers this hormone by up to 70 percent.

The same goes for testosterone, a hormone that also influences muscle growth, especially in men. It’s believed that alcohol generates a toxic substance in the liver that inhibits the production of testosteroneThis produces an increase in cortisol, which can catalyze the muscles.

Alcohol can inhibit the production of testosterone.

Furthermore, alcohol reduces the speed at which our bodies burn fat, by 73 percent; it’s called the lipid oxidation. This is more serious than it seems since our bodies need to “eat” from somewhere. If the alcohol arrives before fats, the liver will metabolize it. It will also produce acetate, and take it into the bloodstream to use as fuel.

While this occurs in the liver, our bodies absorb fewer nutrients since it’s busy trying to assimilate all the alcohol. All this happens and we’re not even counting the great caloric intake of alcohol in the body. Going to the gym to burn calories and fat, only to  later consume part of it with alcohol, doesn’t make much sense.

Does all this mean that you can’t drink alcohol?

You already know that we have several sayings, such as, “You can achieve anything with consistency!” Or “Everything is well in its proper measure!” The last saying refers to alcohol. Although, despite these studies, it’s still possible to drink alcohol in moderation.

We have seen the negative effects that alcohol has on the body. These counteract the effects of exercise, especially if the intake exceeds 0.02 ounces of alcohol per 2.2 pounds of body weight. To give you a better understanding, a person weighing 187 pounds could drink about six beer cans without a problem. Quite an exaggeration!

Obviously, the less alcohol you consume the better. Nonetheless, enjoying a couple of drinks with friends at weekends will not eliminate everything you’ve achieved. Nothing is bad if you know how to give it its proper place in your life. Enjoy sports and also enjoy drinks in moderation too.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.