Hey guys! It’s Stefan and Marcus from Fitness Room!
In today’s email, we’re going to be discussing the effects of alcohol on your training. To preface it all, neither of us drink regularly or casually. Stefan’s last drink was around 18 months ago and mine was around 10 months ago. The purpose of this email is to inform you guys on alcohol as it relates to training, and also on the reason why we don’t drink often.
To follow on a point from yesterday’s email, alcohol contains empty calories (not nutritious) and are a liquid source of calories. Because alcohol contains calories, it adds up towards your total daily requirement. If you go over your normal intake, this will contribute to weight gain, particularly fat, as the calories are coming from something with no nutritional value. Remember that liquid calories will be readily absorbed and stored as fat if you exceed your caloric limit!
While none of that is great, the real reason we don’t drink is because of how it affects your training when it comes to recovery. The degree to which your recovery is affected is dependent on the amount you drink, however even a small amount will have some adverse effects. The first way it affects recovery is through dehydration. We all know that alcohol acts as a diuretic and being dehydrated will slow down your recovery. This is because it makes it harder for your body to get nutrients to your muscles. Alcohol also affects the pathways responsible for protein synthesis, limiting the amount of lean muscle mass you can put on from your training, even if you did a really tough session.
Both of these mean your recovery will slow down, and so you’ll have to put in way more time and effort in the gym to reach your goals.
Binge drinking takes all of these points to the extreme. You’ll be taking in a ton of empty calories all at once, which will definitely contribute to storing bodyfat. Binging also effectively ruins your training. Not only will it interrupt protein synthesis, it can actually break down your muscle fibres and place lots of strain on your internal organs, which are also trying their best to function while dehydrated.
We understand that it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to just quit drinking completely, but there are ways to cut back so your results aren’t affected too much. The obvious thing to do is to limit the amount of drinking you do. Keep the amount small and try to keep it on days where you aren’t training. While removing alcohol completely is the best choice, you can counteract some of the negative effects by eating foods rich in protein and doing a workout the day after you drink. Remember though, you’ll be returning to baseline, not progressing forward. If you’re looking to get more results, try and quit drinking for a few weeks or months, you can celebrate your goals with a (small) drink once you reach them!