Alcohol, the Secret Sabotager of Your Fitness

April 23, 2018 by
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The story.

According to a study published in Health Psychology,  the days we sweat, we’re more likely to swig. Researchers asked 150 adults to record their physical activity and alcohol consumption, and found on the days participants exercised, they tended to drink more booze, too. Why?

Researchers hypothesize it’s because people subconsciously use booze to reward themselves for exercise. “I did Murph, I earned this margarita!”. “Bring on the tequila shots, I PR’ed my snatch”. Another possibility: we tend to work out with friends, and then continue socializing with the Fit Fam over drinks.

OK, guilty. Tell me more.

Alcohol tinkers with our hormones and inflammatory response to exercise, so if we start sipping a cold one  before properly refueling, our body doesn’t prioritize repairing those muscles, and instead prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol (even if it’s only one beer or glass of pinot noir), explains Kim Larson, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

So hightailing it to your friend Shelley’s going away party after a workout and throwing back one or two may means the muscles you just worked might not repair and grow back stronger.

Anything else?

Yep. There’s the whole dehydrating effect of alcohol. If “dehydrate to rehydrate” is your fitness mantra, you may want to stick to something a little more, ahem backed by science. Because nothing screams dehydration quite like the combo of CrossFit, which makes you sweat, and alcohol which acts as a diuretic, says Brad Schoenfeld, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at Lehman College in New York. Fun fact: for every gram of alcohol you suck down, you pump out 10 milliliters of urine, which is about 9.5 ounces for two beers.

So if you’re going to drink: limit the amount, make sure you’re drinking lots of H20, and chow down on some macros first, says Larson. We’re not saying that one or two boozy nights will be detrimental to your health (though they may make you feel a bit out of whack the next day), but over time if you sweat then swig, your performance will probably pay.

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