How to drink alcohol and workout effectively

August 10, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

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When I started to workout at age 16-17, my body was a lot healthier then some of my other friends as I wasn’t into trying out legal or illegal substances. Such as…? ;-) I was more passionate about fitness, health and performance. But throughout my late teen years I would inevitably begin to socialize (and rightfully so). But with socializing comes partying and with partying comes alcohol consumption.

This happens everywhere across the globe, some places more than others (The UK). But for a person that works out or is into sport as a profession, it is vital that one must control how much and how often this happens. I for one has had first had experience of this scenario and I know he effects alcohol can have on the body of someone who works out. In general one must not drink to much alcohol, as the effects will be negative, as we all know. But it is not to say one must not drink at all, as life would be pointless with out a little fun, but one must learn to control how much they consume.

What alcohol does to muscles?

As I stated, in my late teens I was very much into fitness as I still am. But I did like to go out, party and quite often drink alcohol. Every time I did this, I would wake up the next day, go to the gym and my body would feel weak, I would have a headache and be thirstier than usual. To make things even worse, I would feel a decrease in MUSCLE MASS…The very thing that I am trying to build and maintain.

Why does this happen?

After few times of experiencing this, I wanted to find out why this was case, as I liked to both party, drink alcohol and workout, and i definitely didn’t want to give any of them up.

Alcohol causes dehydration

When you drink alcohol in excessive amounts it damages your muscles and dehydrates the body, which leads to a lack of water in your muscles. Water is the very thing that your muscles need in order to grow and be maintained. So you may find that after a few weeks of drinking on the binge, you feel a lot thirstier after working out. Drinking water is the natural thing to do when this occurs, but unfortunately this won’t decrease the levels of dehydration that mass alcohol consumption would have caused.

Alcohol stunts muscle growth and shrinks them to!

The worst part of all this is that dehydration caused from excessive alcohol consumption will lead to a stunt in muscle growth and will shrink them to. Regardless of what body type you are or what workout routine you implement, you will burn fat. But when alcohol is present, your body will start to burn muscles (rather than fat) for energy when you workout. This is bad no doubt, and will only continue unless you begin to control your weekly intake of alcohol.

Wait! It gets worse

Too much alcohol can actual make you fat. Alcohol contains calories that no longer get burned like normal fat because of dehydration. So what starts to happen is you begin to gain weight, but gain no real muscle definition, therefore leading you to look fat? This is also the reason why people may say to you ‘Don’t build muscle and get to big, if you stop working out one day you might become fat!’

How often should I drink?

No level of alcohol consumption is risk-free. The general answer to that question would be to drink in moderation. The weekly average ‘safe’ amount for men is 21 units and 14 for women (1 unit = 1 half pint of beer, spirits or wine). So it’s probably a good bet to aim for a consumption rate that is below this amount. I personally started to drink more red wine. Red wine does contain microorganisms that can cause various diseases, however, because of its alcoholic and acidic nature, the microorganisms simply die out.

We do all like to party no doubt. So my final advice would be to do what I do:

Party and drink non-alcoholic drinks, as I really don’t think it is needed, unless you need to drink it to get into a merry state. If that is the case I would suggest re-evaluating your workout goals, as you simply won’t achieve anything that will be of benefit to you.

How has alcohol affected your workout routine?

See you in the comments.

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