Can You Drink Alcohol And Achieve Your Fitness Goals? Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a guest post from James Staring, Lead Trainer at Fit to Last. James will be exploring the impact alcohol has on your fitness. Unfortunately, alcohol can derail your progress if you are trying to improve your health and fitness through exercise. But does that mean you should never enjoy a glass of wine or a G&T again?
Can You Drink Alcohol And Achieve Your Fitness Goals?
Regardless of your fitness level, you must perform and make decisions if you’re currently working out to pursue a health and fitness goal. And alcohol can affect how well you do this.
All exercise requires a degree of coordination. You will need to coordinate different limbs in a sequence to execute the movement you have in mind. Because alcohol is a diuretic, you’ll become dehydrated when you indulge. Alcohol-induced dehydration can affect your motor skills, balance, and coordination.
In addition to physical capabilities, alcohol consumption can affect your ability to think clearly and make decisions. You may think this doesn’t matter much when working out, but think again. When you’re in the gym, you must decide if the weight is too heavy or if you need more extended rest. If you decide unwisely, you can hurt yourself. By being clear-headed, you make better choices that affect your long-term progress.
Besides reduced physical performance, dehydration also causes brain fog (your brain is 75% water, so even 2% dehydration can affect brain function dramatically). This will impair your ability to think on your feet and react, an essential part of performance.
When you drink alcohol, your liver reduces glucose production in favour of processing alcohol. Because your liver will prioritise processing alcohol over producing glucose, a needed energy source for exercise, your workout quality will be reduced because you lack sufficient energy to complete it.
Alcohol causes metabolic issues on two fronts when it comes to exercising.
Low Blood Sugar
Alcohol can interfere with your metabolism by increasing insulin secretion. Increased insulin secretion leads to low blood sugar. As you need sugar in your bloodstream to provide energy to exercise, when alcohol is in your system, you can expect to feel sluggish while you work out.
Prioritising An Unwanted Energy Source
When you exercise, your body has a variety of energy sources available for fuel. The most desirable energy source is stored fat (the one everyone wants to burn more of when working out). When your liver processes alcohol, your body will have ethanol. Because ethanol is toxic in large quantities, your body will prioritise burning it as a fuel source instead of stored fat.
To maintain a healthy lifestyle and achieve health and fitness goals, quality recovery is essential.
Alcohol consumption reduces your time in deep sleep, meaning you spend more time in REM and lighter sleep cycles. This is significant because, during deep sleep, your body produces hormones that facilitate lean muscle development.
Light alcohol consumption has been shown to increase strength losses and the time necessary to recover after working out. Heavy alcohol consumption has increased the recovery time from soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains.
Three Tips To Enjoy Alcohol And Still Pursue Your Health And Fitness Goals
If you decide to drink alcohol, you must manage your expectations and training schedule. Here are three tips to help you enjoy drinking alcohol occasionally and still pursue your health and fitness goals.
Expect The Process To Take Longer
As soon as alcohol enters the picture, you can expect that the timeline you’ve set to achieve your goals will be longer than expected if the goals can be achieved at all. Your body will operate less efficiently if you drink alcohol than if you don’t. Regardless of your goals, you’ll be exercising to make improvements. Once regular alcohol enters the picture, your best intentions will be jeopardised.
Time Your Workouts
You need to allow for alcohol to be fully processed before exercising. An essential part of exercising with a health and fitness goal in mind is consistency. For this reason, if you plan to drink, allow yourself enough time to fully process the alcohol you’ve consumed before you hit the gym (i.e. 48-72 hours). Doing this, you’ll go to the gym ready to perform at your best, and this is how you’ll achieve your goals.
Try Cutting Out Alcohol For A Week
Work out as you usually do and see how you feel. Sometimes, the best way to turn over a new leaf is to sample the other side of the fence. Afterwards, proceed with your usual routine and compare the two weeks. Did you perform as well in the gym as usual? Do you feel better by not drinking alcohol or maintaining the status quo? If you feel better by not drinking alcohol, then maybe you’re onto something.
Sometimes, you may think you can avoid drinking alcohol regularly and still maximise your fitness efforts. But you can’t have it all.
If you’re working out regularly and eating healthily to achieve a result, alcohol can be the liability that holds you back. Give it a miss or cut it back considerably – you’ll see better results faster.
I hope you enjoyed that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Staring is the founder and lead fitness coach at Fit to Last Personal Trainers, which offers a high-end, all-inclusive fitness solution for those who’ve tried everything in the past: crash diets, exercise fads, regular gyms, etc., all with little to no success or results. Fit Last works with you to create a personalised programme of exercise, nutrition (no calorie counting or weighing) and small, simple lifestyle changes to keep you on track to your goals, injury-free and bursting with energy. See: www.fittolast.co.uk