Effects of alcohol on your training

After your big night out the effects of alcohol are usually pretty obvious. Headaches, nausea, tiredness, and a loss of appetite are the norm for some. Usually these symptoms go within a day, (sometimes two if it’s being a really big night!).  Once the hangover dissipates it leaves me thinking, what has all that booze done to our muscles which we have been working hard to sculpt, grow or tone in the gym? Here are some fact to do with the effects of booze on the muscular system to take into consideration if you’re training hard through the week and getting wasted when the weekend comes!

What is a hangover?

It’s the Dehydration and alcohol toxicity that you can thank for how you feel the morning after your big night out. Because of these symptoms whilst training aerobically, using equipment such as a treadmill or cross trainer it can decrease your performance by 11%. If you’re exercising whilst hung over you will further dehydrate yourself which will put your body in a worse position than before you started your exercise! The more dehydrated you are the less effective your body is at helping your muscle s recover after resistance training. During training dehydration will cause muscle cramps, and will put you at greater risk of pulling or straining a muscle.

Effects of alcohol on sleep and recovery

When training in the gym getting enough rest is essential. Alcohol affects your sleeping patterns, cutting down the number of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycles you go through. During the deep stages of sleep, the body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.

Disrupting your sleep pattern with alcohol will make you tired. From a muscular point of view due to this disturbance in REM sleep your body is robbed of HGH (human growth hormone) which is essential for building and toning your muscles. HGH can be depleted by as much as 70%! Alcohol also reduces your testosterone levels which lead to a decrease in lean muscle mass and muscle recovery.

Alcohol depletes your energy

After alcohol is absorbed through your stomach and small intestine and moves into your cells, it can disrupt the water balance in your body. An imbalance of water in your muscle cells can hamper their ability to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which provides the fuel that is necessary to help your muscles contract. A reduction in your body’s ATP can result in a lack of energy and loss of endurance.

The effects of alcohol on nutrition

Alcohol has lots of calories (about 7 per gram), but your muscles are unfortunately not able to use these calories for fuel. Alcohol calories are not converted to glycogen, a form of stored carbohydrates, and are consequently not a good source of energy for your body during exercise. Your body instead treats alcohol as fat, converting the sugar from alcohol into fatty acids. As a result, alcohol consumption increases fat storage and can adversely affect your percentage of body fat.

Lastly, even small amounts of alcohol can result in a slowed reaction time and decreased hand-eye coordination. Not only can this impair performance, but a slowed reaction time can increase your risk for injury and poor judgment.

The effects of exercising with a hangover

If you’re physically active, consider how drinking will affect your gym performance. If you choose to drink, avoid alcohol beyond low-amount social drinking for 48 hours before your training session, and be sure to rehydrate and eat before consuming alcohol post-exercise.

Danny Allan