At one time or another, most of us have experienced what a hassle a single hangover can be. You’re in pain, you cannot possibly focus, you’re exhausted, and you cannot force yourself to eat a single bite of your much-needed breakfast.
Now, imagine going through all of that and hitting the gym – not possible, right? However, while a single hangover is truly unpleasant, it’s wiser to take a closer glance at what alcohol consumption can do to your health and fitness in the long run.
This is especially vital for people who drink on a regular basis and who allow their routine to be affected by this unhealthy habit more often than not. If you’re looking for ways to motivate yourself to cut down on alcohol consumption and to protect your fitness efforts, let’s go over a few of the negative effects liquor can have on your health and performance.
Recognizing the issue
It’s just one more glass of wine with dinner, right? Alas, it’s rarely quite that simple. To put things in a bit of perspective, US-based research shows that close to 27% of survey respondents engaged in binge drinking in the past month. Another truly terrifying piece of data shows that alcohol is the third leading cause of death, and one that is perfectly preventable. What this tells us is that we need to spot an issue as early as possible and treat it with great care.
Just like with many other unhealthy habits that start with binging, you might be at risk of developing a drinking problem unless you reassess your behavior and start making some changes in your lifestyle. However, if you’ve discovered that you have crossed that line, seeking professional help and even considering rehab centers as a possibility is the best way to restore your wellbeing and go back to a healthy life.
Your muscles on booze
Now, if you’re still within your limits and you steer clear of binge drinking or heavy alcohol consumption, knowing how your body behaves when you enjoy an occasional drink might deter you from continuing with this habit.
Studies have shown that while occasional, social drinking might bring you no harm if you consume alcohol in very low amounts, anything in the higher ranges can have a severe impact on your performance and recovery rates after your training session.
As Dr. Norton points out, drinking cannot be assessed as a stand-alone habit, because it interferes with other behaviors as well. Or as he put it, if you’re too hungover to eat properly the day after you’ve had a few drinks, and you cannot really train well and with control, that can cause a secondary set of problems for your execution, risk of injury, and recovery rates.
Alcohol, dehydration, and training
In addition to healthy eating, which can obviously suffer if your alcohol consumption is high and you get hungover too often, another side-effect of drinking is, ironically, dehydration. Every athlete knows that your water intake is vital for your performance at the gym as well as proper recovery and recuperation after a grueling workout session. When alcohol joins the equation, your body is more likely to suffer from dehydration, effectively reducing your training performance and safety.
Long-time drinkers might even suffer from a condition known as alcoholic myopathy, as your muscular tissue becomes stiff, and you lose more muscle mass at an accelerated rate. Your liver and your kidneys constantly filter out toxic material from your body, but overload them with alcohol, and you risk damaging them for the rest of your life. In turn, that means that you cannot utilize nutrients properly, and that your training will be irreversibly affected.
Moderating your love for spirits
To say that you should ditch every single indulgence in your life would mean that you might as well drop birthday parties from your lifestyle altogether. That way, you avoid the cake and the booze.
But we as humans have the capacity to regulate our behavior, and that is precisely what you need to do if you’d like to enjoy an occasional drink without these severe consequences.
If you can really stick to that one glass of wine to go with your dinner every now and then, you should be safe enough to avoid the many downsides of alcohol consumption and its effects on training.
To sum up
If you’re already putting so much effort into designing a specific workout routine, followed by a detailed diet plan, it would be a waste of time, effort, as well as your fitness results to go on a booze binge.
Instead, make sure that you practice moderation and control, and never allow your nutrition and workouts to suffer due to poor lack of judgment and too much alcohol. A little self-discipline can go a long way in building lifelong health!