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