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12-05 Effects of Alcohol

Tis the season to drink alcohol!
How does alcohol really effect body fat & performance?

I am sorry to disappoint all those who enjoy alcohol. This is a time to stop reading and be ignorant if this nutrient is commonly consumed by you. Some research states a drink a day is healthy. A 1/2 a serving of wine shows some antioxidant benefits but that is about all. Alcohol promotes storing body fat. The higher the alcohol content the greater potential for a higher body fat percentage! It is my opinion that alcohol is the worst nutrient for performance and for overall health.

If you are an athlete, construction worker, firefighter, surgeon or any occupation where precision, judgment, ability to process information, focus, strength, power, and speed are required then you should not drink at least 24-72 hours before you need to perform that duty, even if you only moderately drink.

In past articles (Sept 05 and Dec 04) hydration is critical to performance. If someone is thirsty they are already at a 2% deficit of body fluids lost. Performance can be decreased up to 10-20% at this level! Alcohol can cause the body to lose 3% more body fluid in a 4 hour period! Returning the next day after consuming alcohol puts that individual’s performance and safety at serious risk! 

Alcohol can slow down the body's recovery process. The faster the body recovers the easier it is to perform at the same optimal levels on a day-to-day basis. Drinking alcohol after exercise or heavy exertion lasting at least 1 1/2 hours can slow this recovery. Alcohol calories are replacing the carbohydrate calories usually eaten. When you don’t replace the carbohydrates burned during activity the person will have less energy.

Alcohol can cause increased swelling after an injury is sustained, even in moderate amounts. The alcohol also could mask the pain. For those who are familiar with injuries, the more swelling in an injured area, the longer it takes to recover and get back to optimal form. Also if someone is already taking anti-inflammatory medications or pain relievers, drinking alcohol can increase the risks of stomach irritation and internal bleeding.

All-in-all long term alcohol abuse can cause chronic alteration of brain and nerve function, weakening of heart muscle, testicular shrinkage, male breast enlargement, impotency, elevated triglycerides, fat deposits in the liver, vitamin deficiencies, and death.


Alcohol and performance do not mix. It inhibits every aspect of performance and losing body fat! The best choice someone can do is avoid alcohol altogether; however, just saying "no" is not a viable option when the majority of people want to say "yes"! Below are suggestions to minimize the effects of alcohol on performance.


  • Avoid excessive drinking
  • Agree to a limit before drinking
  • Agree to a limit for the week
  • Avoid drinking games
  • Don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach
  • Choose low alcoholic beverages
  • For every serving of alcohol, drink 8-12oz of water, juice, or non-alcoholic beverage
  • Continue to drink non-alcoholic beverages well after consuming alcohol. ~ 24-72oz of water if hydrated between each drink
  • Avoid social drinking at least 72 hours before a practice/event
  • After practice/event re-hydrate properly before consuming any alcohol. For every one pound lost consume 20-24oz of fluids with 300-400mg sodium (i.e. V8 Juice & water, 2oz pretzels with water, Gatorade)
  • Before drinking any alcohol after a workout/event, consume at least 6-10g protein and 30-60g of carbohydrates (Yogurt & fruit, bagel with 2 T natural peanut butter) within the first 30 minutes followed by a well balanced meal in the next 1 1/2 hours.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol at least 24-36 hours after experiencing extreme soreness/aches/pains, noticeable bruising or injury.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking anti-inflammatory drugs. This includes Tylenol and ibuprofen
  • Keep bi-monthly records of body fat to muscle mass ratios

New items for the Sports Food Bag and for those people looking for a dessert

Most of my clients want to make changes to improve performance and improve health. However for those who love sweet items I have found some products that are portioned out and have a good taste without compromising the end results. They also work great for those young and picky athletes.  

  • Breyers Light Creamy Fudge Bar
  • Dole Fruit Bowls—Apple and Caramel Crème fruit Parfait
  • Dole Fruit Bowls—Peach & Creme Fruit Parfait
  • Jell-O Sugar Free Pudding
  • Jell-O Sundae Toppers

A new fruit option!

Trying to get more fruit in your daily intake? Chiquita has come up with a unique way to get a fruit serving in!!!  They are called Chiquita Fruit Snack. They come in a package with a twist top. It can be at room temperature or chilled. These are great for on the go, after a team practice or with a packed lunch. Because of the packaging even picky eaters may like them. For children the way they look can help compliance. You can find them in the produce section of the grocery store. You can add these to your Sports Food Bag list as well.

New Presentation Testimonial

"Dawn's presentation to our athletes on the topic of proper nutrition was to the point. It was concise and easy to understand. The athletes could take some 'easy-to-do' diet modifications with them from the session and begin helping themselves immediately."

Rodney L. Russell
Athletic Director
Mason High School

Multivitamin/Mineral Supplement
Can We Get All the Nutrients We Need from Food?


Another question you need to ask and research:
How many scientists work for the supplement company?

Many supplement companies have no scientists working for them. If the company has no scientist working for them I recommend not buying the product. If the company only has one I still am very cautious about buying their products. The goal is finding a supplement company that has at least three or more on staff. Scientists are an expensive labor force. However the more scientists the easier it is for the company to stay on top of current research and figuring out how to apply the research to update their products. This all takes money and time in the lab. To find out this information you will have to call the company or review their websites. I personally prefer doing both. Please take this process seriously. Certain supplements can help you prevent chronic degenerative diseases, but finding the ones that really work is the problem.

Go to if you want to know what products we recommend.

Current News

Dawn Weatherwax was interviewed by Howie Rumberg from The Associated Press about vitamins and minerals.

Dawn Weatherwax's Alcohol article (the scientific version) can be viewed at:

for the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Speaking Engagements
Dawn Weatherwax spoke to Family Physicians at Bethesda North Hospital on Applying Sports Nutrition to your Family Practice on December 13th.

Dawn Weatherwax is speaking to the University or Toledo on nutrition and performance in December. This presentation is sponsored by Gatorade Sports Science Institute.

Dawn Weatherwax spoke to a local high school on Building Muscle through Sports Nutrition on December 7th. 

New Service!
 SN2Go is working out the details to add a new service for our clients. Starting in January 2006 we are going to start measuring Sodium Chloride lost in sweat. This is important component to hydration and performance! Will keep you posted on its development and importance.

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