Alcohol and exercise are never a good combination. Whether it be a post-workout treat, or exercising while hungover, drinking has many adverse affects on your fitness that should be avoided. After a hard workout, it is natural to want an icy-cold beverage. But stand clear of the booze. The way your body reacts to alcohol is completely sabotaging your fitness goals. We talked to experts about how alcohol really does affect your body and your exercise. Lori Kenyon-Farley, Certified Nutritional Consultant and Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND. Both agreed that drinking before or after a workout is highly unadvised. And even working out the next day during a hangover can be very dangerous. “Save the drinking for weekends and special occasions,” advises Lori Kenyon-Farley,” and even then, enjoy in moderation.”
Your workout will not be effective if your metabolism is not working properly. Lori Kenyon-Farley, Certified Nutritional Consultant explains, “Alcohol can also affect hormone levels, affecting the way calories are metabolized, causing your body to store the extra calories. The extra calories in alcohol can really add up when you are having a few drinks daily. Save the drinking for weekends and special occasions, and even then, enjoy in moderation.”
Alcohol depletes important minerals that are important to the recovery process. “It encourages yeast overgrowth which has a whole spectrum of symptoms. It depletes the body of vital minerals such as magnesium which is an important electrolyte for muscle recovery and muscle health for those exercising and seeking fitness,” explains Dr. Carolyn Dean.
The most dangerous aspect of alcohol is it’s formation of acetaldehyde, a broken down chemical from alcohol known as ‘the hangover chemical’. “Acetaldehyde is a particularly potent toxin that can damage all the tissues in the body including the brain,” explains Dr. Dean. “Acetaldehyde also blocks the attachment of oxygen to red blood cells. Your brain uses 20 percent of all the oxygen that you inhale but stiff red blood cells cut down that amount considerably leaving you gasping for air and feeling whoozy.”
While it is well known that alcohol can cause dehydration, the dangers that go along with dehydration are often disregarded. Dehydration has dramatic effect on the body and can even impact your cognitive abilities in the brain.
Sleep is extremely important to complement a regular exercise routine. Alcohol disrupts your sleep patterns by compromising the body’s ability to return to homeostasis, its normal operating functions.
Alcohol may seem like a good idea after a workout, but you may be putting back all the calories you just worked off. An average beer has about 156 calories per bottle. Have a couple of those, and your 30 minute workout was worth nothing.
Another problem associated with irregular metabolic functions is that your body stores the alcohol as fat. After breaking down into amino acids, the body stores them in some of your major muscle areas. It also increases cortisol levels (the stress hormone) which signals your body to store more fat.