DID YOU KNOW? Because of alcohol’s effect on sleep, your body is robbed of a chemical called “human growth hormone” (HGH).
HGH is part of the normal muscle-building and repair process and the body’s way of telling itself your muscles need to grow bigger and stronger. Alcohol, however, can decrease the secretion of HGH by as much as 70 percent!
With the fall, of course, you can begin to hear NFL football games playing from neighbor’s homes and the local sports bar. Many enjoy a few extra beverages on a weekly basis during this season, so it seems appropriate to review the effects on health and performance.
How it affects muscle development and recovery:
- Alcohol consumption after a workout greatly decreases physiological improvements achieved during that workout. Both long-term and short-term use diminishes protein synthesis resulting in decreased muscle growth.
- Alcohol causes dehydration and slows down the body’s ability to heal itself, delaying recovery of sore muscles or injuries.
- Once alcohol is absorbed into your cells, it can disrupt the water balance in muscle cells, altering their ability to produce ATP, the muscles’ energy source.
How it affects your ability to learn new plays, strategies and movement:
- Alcohol use inhibits your ability to learn new information due to its effect on the hippocampus, a structure in the brain essential to forming new memories and learning.
- Alcohol use not only affects your brain’s ability to learn new information, but also to retain information.
How alcohol affects nutrition and recovery:
- Alcohol consumption restricts your aerobic metabolism and endurance.
- Alcohol consumption requires increased conditioning to maintain body weight and composition. It is not converted to glycogen (storage form of glucose, or energy), but rather is converted to fat.
- Alcohol inhibits nutrient absorption.
- Consuming five or more servings of alcohol can affect the brain and body activities for up to three to five days.
- Overall, alcohol can decrease performance potential by up to 11.4% and suppresses the immune system.
Nutrients Most Affected By Alcohol Consumption:
- Thiamin (Vitamin B1): Essential to optimal performance through carbohydrate metabolism; It is also involved in the metabolism of proteins and fat and the formation of hemoglobin.
- Vitamin B12: Essential to good health because it helps maintain healthy red blood and nerve cells.
- Folic Acid: Integral part of a coenzyme involved in the formation of new cells. A lack of it can cause a blood disorder called “megaloblastic anemia,” which causes lowering of oxygen carrying capacity, negatively affecting endurance.
- Zinc: Essential to the energy metabolic processes. It depletes zinc reserves, resulting in decreases endurance.
Nutrition Goals, if you choose to consume alcohol:
- Fully rehydrate and refuel post-exercise before drinking.
- Pace yourself and make sure to drink water before, after, and in between alcoholic beverages.
- Maintain social life without compromising training (and competition) goals.
- If you are enjoying alcohol, consider your training schedule and follow the guidelines of moderation for good health: 1-2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. One “drink” equals 12 ounces of regular beer (150 calories), 5 ounces of wine (100 calories), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor (100 calories).
- Play competitively? Pre-game: Avoid alcohol for 48 hours prior to game (at most moderate 1-2 per day) Post-game: Rehydrate first and consume food to slow the absorption.
If you don’t drink, there is no need to start, of course! However, if you are of age and do drink moderately and responsibly, now you know how it may be impacting your training, fitness, and performance goals.
Are you looking to increase your performance in Sports? To be healthier? To see better results in your game? Keeping your body nourished is key to improved health and to create a happy, healthy, and balanced life.