Many people train hard to be physically fit, gain muscle mass, and accomplish a wide range of other goals. We are also social beings and enjoy spending time with our friends, which can involve drinking alcohol. What does one have to do with the other?
If your training regime isn’t quite working to help you reach your weight loss and fitness goals, ask yourself whether that might be due to regular alcohol consumption.
Alcohol has a number of different effects on the human body that can negate the positive effects of regular physical activity. To put this in perspective, there are 9 Kilocalories in one gram of alcohol. When you consume alcohol, those calories are not readily stored as glycogen – the storage form of carbohydrates – and also a desirable energy source during exercise. These extra calories will not readily be used for energy and are instead converted into fatty acids and stored as fat.
Alcohol is also missing many essential nutrients including protein, minerals, and vitamins. Regular alcohol consumption can inhibit the absorption of other vital nutrients such as Zinc, and Thiamin. Chronic alcohol consumption (more than two drinks per day) puts you at risk of muscle weakness, wasting, and damage including to the heart muscle due to the nutrients that alcohol inhibits. Not only can chronic alcohol consumption affect the way your body is reacting to your exercise regimen, but also short term alcohol use can impede lean muscle mass growth.
Alcohol’s Internal Effects on Exercise:
- Slowed muscle recovery due to lack of adequate rest during sleep
- Decrease in the body’s secretion of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) of as much as 70% which directly affects the muscle building, repair, and recovery process
- Decrease in Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which will decrease the amount of energy available to your muscles; workouts will be less effective with the lack of energy
- Increase of the stress hormone Cortisol has a direct correlation with the increased breakdown of muscle tissue
We are not suggesting that you cannot have an alcoholic beverage! At Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts, we teach our guests that a drink in moderation is fine, as is true of most foods that you enjoy. Just keep in mind that a number of your basic bodily functions will be affected with alcohol use. Remember that your body has processes that occur post workout to recover and rebuild the muscles. Fuel your body after your workout with the right nutrients that will help you reach your goals.
Kristi Docwra MS, ACSM-CPT