We’ve all heard that alcohol isn’t great for us, but does it really have an effect on our exercise performance? The answer is yes. While research has proven that even small amounts can increase muscular endurance and output of strength, these types of benefits are very short-lived.
After 20 minutes or so, the problems will begin to surface. Let’s explore the effects of alcohol on exercise performance and why it’s best to avoid it when exercising.
The Negative Side Effects
Alcohol can reduce your strength, endurance, aerobic capability, recovery time, ability to metabolize fat, and even your muscle growth as well. Not only that but alcohol will also have an effect on your nervous system and brain. If you use it long term, you can cause severe deterioration of your health.
Studies have shown that athletes who drink excessively may experience impaired cognitive function and decreased reaction times which will affect their overall performance in the gym or during a competition. Even with short
term use, nerve-muscle interaction can be reduced which will result in a loss of strength.
Once alcohol reaches the blood cells, it can and probably will damage them. With alcohol users, inflammation of the muscle cells is a very common thing. Over periods of time, some of these cells that have been damaged can die which will result in less functional muscle contractions. Drinking alcohol will also leave you with more soreness in your muscles after you exercise, which means that it will take you a lot longer to recuperate.
Alcohol and Your Heart Health
Alcohol will also have many different effects on your heart and circulatory system as well. When you drink any type of alcohol, you may begin to see a reduction in your endurance capabilities.
Anytime you drink, your heat loss will increase, due to the alcohol simulating your blood vessels to dilate. The loss in heat can cause your muscles to become quite cold, therefore become slower and weaker during your muscle contractions.
Alcohol and Digestive System
Drinking alcohol can also lead to digestive and nutrition problems as well. Alcohol cause a release of insulin that will increase the metabolism of glycogen, which spares fat and makes the loss of fat very hard. Due to alcohol interfering with the absorption of several key nutrients, you can also become anemic and deficient in B-type vitamins.
Alcohol and Liver
Your liver is the organ that detoxifies alcohol, the more you drink, the harder your liver has to work. The extra stress alcohol places on your liver can cause serious damage and even destroy some of your liver cells.
Alcohol and Kidneys
Since alcohol is diuretic, drinking large amounts can put a lot of stress on your kidneys as well. During diuretic action, the hormones are secreted. This can lead to heightened water retention and no one who exercises will want this to happen.
Alcohol Can Increase Your Appetite
Another issue with alcohol consumption is that it can increase your appetite and lead to overeating which will put a damper on any weight loss goals you might have set for yourself. Alcohol dehydrates the body as well which can lead to fatigue during workouts and make it difficult for your body to recover after intense exercise sessions.
It has also been linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease as well as other diseases like cancer and liver disease if consumed in large quantities over a long period of time.
Decrease Your Risk of Injury with Moderation
There are some benefits associated with drinking moderate amounts of alcohol such as improved moods or reduced stress levels which can help you stay focused during workouts but even these benefits come with risks if taken too far.
Excessive drinking increases your risk for injury due to impaired judgment or coordination so moderation is key when consuming alcohol prior to exercise or competitive activities. Overall, it's best to avoid alcohol altogether when engaging in physical activity since its negative side effects greatly outweigh any possible benefits it may provide in the short term.
In short, while there may be some short-term benefits associated with consuming small amounts of alcohol prior to exercises such as increased muscular endurance and output strength, these effects are very short-lived and won't last more than 20 minutes before they start becoming detrimental instead of beneficial.
The negative side effects associated with alcohol far outweigh any potential positives—especially when considering long-term health considerations—so it's important for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike to understand the risks involved before deciding whether or not drinking is worth it prior to physical activity or competition. Ultimately, moderation is key; however, abstaining from alcohol altogether is usually the safest option when exercising.