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4 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Physical Fitness Routine

Jan 24, 2018

Surprisingly, people who follow some kind of physical fitness routine consume more alcohol than those who do not.

No, that’s not the booze talking. Think about it: Alcohol is part and parcel with celebration. And celebration is synonymous with reaching a goal – such as running a marathon, winning the big game, or topping your own chin up record.

But – does that make it wise? Or, better yet, beneficial in any way?

Consider the basic pillars of what happens once alcohol enters your bloodstream:

  • Impaired judgement
  • Reduced motor control
  • Altered mood

Now read those bullet points again while picturing jumping jacks.

One of those things is not like the others.

It stands to reason that alcohol consumption can affect your physical fitness routine. Here are four of the main ways:

  • It’s a diuretic. That means it contributes to dehydration. That means your body is low on water. This delays recovery time and waylays performance. And that means you either A) can’t exercise or B) recover properly.
  • It affects your body’s inflammatory response. Consumption before your workout can have a detrimental effect on its ability to heal those muscular micro tears that are so important to strength training.
  • Alcohol tanks your glucose production – This is your body’s means of generating energy. Once your liver is tasked with breaking down that Colt 45 or tart sangria, its glucose function takes a backseat.
  • It’s a calorie leech. Just like junk food, alcohol offers nothing in the way of nutritional value, and is filled with empty calories (7 per gram, in fact, which is practically on par with pure fat). Additionally, an alcoholic beverage can often take the place of a nutritious after workout snack (protein, carbohydrates, etc.) This hinders your progress considerably.

Does all of the above mean you must drop everything and become a teetotaler? Not quite. Avoiding alcohol wholesale is not necessary, unless you are training for a specific event – in which case, it’s truly in your best interest to lay off until after your goal is achieved.

Here’s where our tried and true mantra rears its head, once again: moderation. One drink per day is not likely to derail your hard work. Four consecutive trips to the bar, on the other hand, is perhaps something to reconsider.

It is critical that you remain hydrated, however, regardless of whether you consume alcohol before or after your physical fitness routine. Additionally, it’s a good practice to stick strictly to water or sports drinks for the first 30 minutes following a workout before considering beer or wine. Alcohol affects blood flow and imbibing any sooner could raise your risk of blood clots.

Fitness Together Ellicott City raises a glass to you and your dedication to a healthier lifestyle – but just one. After all, we both have work to do. Call us today at 410-750-2228 to get started.


Schedule a complimentary fit evaluation so we can get to know you and your goals and build you a customized training program to reach them.