Alcohol’s Impact on Athletic Performance

Alcohol’s Impact on Athletic Performance

I’m not a preacher or a prohibitionist, but I am a post 45 Athlete who is continually striving to get the most out of my body’s ability to perform.

Its common knowledge that nutrition plays a huge role in both our aesthetics and our performance in the gym. It doesn’t come down to just what we eat, but also what we consume in liquid form. Sodas, sports drinks, and fruit juices all add relatively empty calories to your diet and likely add a few inches to your waistline too.

But what about alcohol? Alcohol is a big part of the Canadian social culture. I’m not saying you can’t have a few drinks, but rather, be informed of the consequences.

Dr. Ken Kinakin, a very well respected Chiropractor at Health First Group Clinic, touched upon alcohol’s effect on muscle growth in a Muscle Insider article.

“Several studies show the adverse effects of alcohol on muscle growth. Alcohol, consumed either occasionally or frequently, decreases protein synthesis and affects Type II muscle fibers (the kind that grows best) more than Type I (the kind long distance runners depend on). Excessive use of alcohol or binge drinking can result in decreased levels of testosterone and increased levels of cortisol (the muscle wasting hormone), a direct effect on muscle cells that can result in significant muscle wasting, especially if protein intake is not high.”

So all the vegans out there looking to pack on some muscle would be well advised to limit your alcohol intake 🙂
“The study found alcohol decreased whole-body protein synthesis by 41 percent. Other earlier studies also show alcohol has a direct inhibitory effect on protein synthesis. Further studies found both the indirect and direct effects of alcohol on protein synthesis and, with frequent use, muscle wasting.”
Having said all that, if you are going to drink, here are some tips to minimize the negative effects:
  • Light beer will cut your calories by about 40 calories per bottle.
  • When choosing a mixed drink, try and have it with water or soda water and some lemon or lime.  
  • Try to load up on water before and after you drink. This will fill you and reduce the possibility of a hangover.
  • Like most things in life, it plays to plan; stick to a pre-determined number of drinks.
  • If you decide to go a little overboard. Some supplements that can help with your hangover, such as red ginseng, ginger and prickly pear (30, 31, 32).  Prickly pear is worthy of highlighting. This is the fruit of a cactus called Opuntia ficus-indica, which is believed to be native to Mexico.  In one study with 55 young and healthy individuals, taking prickly pear extract 5 hours before drinking reduced the risk of a severe hangover by 62%.

All in all, alcohol consumption does pose negative ramifications on one’s body. This does not mean you have to go cold-turkey, but rather, be aware of the impacts and plan with safety in mind.

Post a comment