ALCOHOL & PERFORMANCE

Considerations for Athletes

You've waited (right!?!) 21 long years to taste the sweet, sweet nectar that is alcohol.


Perhaps you're celebrating a WIN, or a birthday, or just hanging with your friends and want to responsibly enjoy alcohol. Making smart decisions when imbibing is one thing, how alcohol ultimately affects performance is another.


Alcohol has serious performance implications outlined in this post. Keep swiping to learn how alcohol affects performance, recovery, and long-term health.

HYDRATION


Alcohol is a diuretic (more trips to the bathroom) that increases your risk of dehydration.


It also weakens the pumping force of the heart, impairs your body's temperature regulation, and accelerates fatigue - affecting aerobic and overall performance.


These impacts are especially felt during prolonged exercise in hot environments.

MOTOR SKILLS


Drinking alcohol slows your reaction time, impairs precision & accuracy, balance, hand-eye coordination, judgment, focus, and stamina.


These performance impacts last up to 72 hours and can spell a recipe for disaster whether you're rolling into training, practice, or a competition.

STRENGTH, POWER, & SPRINTING


Alcohol leads to a decline in strength, power, and sprint. It also decreases grip strength, decreases jump height, and athletes fatigue more rapidly.

RECOVERY


Consuming alcohol after practice, training, or competition, decreases Muscle Protein Synthesis - an important part of repair and growth of muscle tissue after physical activity, especially hard training.


It is a poor source of nutrients and may replace carbohydrate necessary for glycogen (stored energy) repletion - affecting both recovery and your next training session. Alcohol also disrupts restorative sleep cycles.

RISK OF INJURY


Those that consume alcohol are at an increased risk of injury due to the many ways alcohol affects performance and recovery.


It should also be noted that alcohol affects judgment and can lead to increased risk of injury both on and off the field of play.


Regular alcohol consumption also depresses immune function, can increase swelling with injuries, and contributes to delayed healing.

BODY COMPOSITION


Drinking alcohol can increase body fat accumulation as ethanol (alcohol) promotes storage of body fat, and reduces how well the body burns fat as energy.


Many alcohol beverages are also higher in calories, plus alcohol acts as an appetite stimulant, often leading to poor food choices. Regularly consuming more calories than energy needs can lead to negative body composition changes and overall weight gain.

LONG-TERM HEALTH


Heavy, regular consumption of alcohol can lead to nutritional deficiencies; altered digestion, absorption, and metabolism of nutrients; muscle damage, wasting, and weakness; and an impaired ability to gain muscle mass and strength.


Long-term, this can mean permanent changes to your liver, heart, brain, and muscle.

With anything, balance and moderation are always key.


If you choose to consume alcohol, do so responsibly, and understand the short-term performance impacts and the long-term health implications.

Thanks for stopping by!


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© 2020 by Jessica Isaacs, RD