Thursday, June 13, 2013

5 ways alcohol wreaks havoc on your training

While many athletes enjoy drinking for social reasons, there are certain realities about alcohol and its effect on your body. Aside from overall health effects of alcohol ingestion, many athletes are unaware that alcohol consumption affects performance and recovery too. Here is how...

1. Alcohol dehydrates
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases fluid losses in the body by blocking the normal signaling cascade that tells your body to hold on to fluid. Instead your kidneys continue to produce urine. This puts athletes at risk for dehydration, heat illness and muscle cramping.

2. Alcohol affects metabolism
Alcohol suppresses the body's ability to use fat as a fuel for exercise. This means that the body will be forced to use more carbohydrate than normal, draining those stores and causing early fatigue during training and competition.

3. Alcohol interferes with recovery
Alcohol interferes with recovery because it delays carbohydrate repletion and muscle repair. I often hear athletes says, "well, beer contains carbohydrate so that is good, right?" While beer does contain carbohydrate, it is not enough for repletion; many other nutrients in beer work against overall recovery.

4. Alcohol interferes with body composition efforts
Often athletes don't count the calories in beer as true "calories". In fact, if I don't specifically ask, many of my athletes would not report alcohol consumption as part of their dietary intake. However, one bottle of beer or glass of wine can contain up to 200 Calories and one mixed drink up to 300 Calories. In the body, any calories from alcohol are metabolized directly into fat tissue. So if you are trying to build muscle or lean out, this is good to know.

5. Alcohol affects sleep
While many people believe alcohol helps them fall asleep, alcohol does not improve the quality of sleep. Alcohol keeps your body from reaching the deep sleep needed for proper recovery and rebuilding.

Do you want to drink socially without ruining your training? Here are a few tips:
- Refuel and rehydrate COMPLETELY post-exercise before consuming alcohol. Take note: those cans of beer often handed out along the race course or at the post-race party are not meant to be consumed immediately.
- When choosing to drink, follow the rule of moderation: 1-2 drinks daily for men; 1 drink daily for women. One drink equals a 12 oz beer, 5 oz of wine or a shot of liquor.
- Be smart. Don't drink in the nights prior to competition.
- During peak training and competition time, consider skipping alcohol altogether. It is just not worth undoing all the good you do when you train.

Be Extraordinary,


Source: Alcohol and Athlete Performance. SCAN Nutrition Fact Sheet. January 2010.
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