The Relationship Between Alcohol Consumption and Exercise

The Relationship Between Alcohol Consumption and Exercise Certain alcoholic beverages may have some health benefits, ranging from wine’s positive influence on insulin sensitivity and beer’s positive association with bone density when consumed in low to moderate amounts. However, if you’re trying to ramp up your fitness, alcohol consumption may impede your progress. Below are some not-so-fun facts about alcohol and how it potentially disrupts the journey toward your fitness goals.

Alcohol Consumption and Exercise

  1. Beverages with 4% alcohol content (or more) increase urine output. This results in a delayed rehydration and recovery process.
  2. Alcohol impairs glycogen resynthesis. This means that the rate at which your body replenishes its carb storage is hindered. In prolonged low intensity exercise (60 minutes or more), the body progressively shifts its preference for fuel to stored carbs (glycogen). On another note, exercises performed at moderate-to-high intensities already favor glycogen for fuel. Therefore, after each scenario, carb intake is essential to initiate the recovery process for your muscles.
  3. Alcohol impairs protein synthesis. In other words, it stunts the rate in which your muscles recover from training. Alcohol also induces a disturbance in the hormones that regulate muscular growth and impairs adaptations in strength/power, to further inhibit the recovery of your muscles.
  4. Working out with a hangover decreases aerobic performance by ~11%. Meaning the time you spend on the treadmill, cycle, elliptical, etc. will most likely suffer.
At 7 calories per gram of alcohol, the negative effects certainly outweigh the positives. We’re not saying alcohol consumption has no place in a diet and should be forbidden. Like with nearly anything pertaining to potentially unhealthy habits, moderation is key. We’re not saying you should never partake in another happy hour or crack a cold one with your friends. The purpose of this blog post was to dilute the commonly held beliefs surrounding alcohol and bring to light why over-indulging in nights out may be the reason you are having difficulties in improving body composition or other fitness aspirations.

For more specific information on how to make alcohol fit into your diet, if you cannot simply (or not so simply) give it up, we highly recommend contacting Elite’s registered dietician, Sarah Brunner, or consulting with any of the other nutritionists!

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