Alcohol and Fitness
One of the most common questions I am asked involves alcohol and fitness.
If I had a dollar for each time, I could retire!
How bad is alcohol for me?
How many beers can I have if I only drink on the weekends?
What if it’s light-colored beer?
Wine is better than beer, right?
But vodka is clear – isn’t that better for you?
My easy answer: Yes. You can drink alcohol.
However, depending on your goal, you may choose not to.
What is your goal?
Washboard abs? More muscle? To lose fat? To look and feel better about yourself? To fit in your favorite jeans every day of the month? For your husband to see you and think “WOW”? To look good naked? To feel sexy?
Now ask yourself if your desire to reach your goal is enough to make some changes or if your goal is more of a pipe dream that you aren’t willing to work for.
Effects of Alcohol on Fitness
Fat Loss: alcohol slows this process. If you followed your meal plan all week, didn’t miss a workout, and then celebrated on the weekend by crushing a 6 pack or a bottle of wine, you’ve sabotaged your work over the last 6 days.
Performance: alcohol impairs muscle growth and slows down the recovery of your muscles. This is critical for anyone trying to pack on lean muscle and lose those unwanted pounds, especially because recovery assists in better execution of your workout. Alcohol dehydrates your body, often causing muscle cramps. Alcohol may also act as a sedative, preventing you from entering into the deeper stages of sleep. How are you going to have an effective workout if you don’t get out of bed because you are too tired or hungover, if you get muscle cramps that cause you to stop exercising, or if you are too tired to push yourself during your workout?
Nutrition: what nutrition? Alcohol is empty calories. It has 7 calories per gram, compared to protein with just 4 calories per gram. Alcohol is often paired with sugary mixers, sodas, or fruit juices, or drank with “bar food” that is high in calories and fat, and is also without much nutritional value.
If you really want to know how drinking alcohol affects you, keep a journal for the next 4 weeks. Write the date and every alcoholic drink you have. Include any mixers, sodas, or juices, the number of ounces of each, and the food you ate with those drinks. Next, track the calories associated with each. Finally, how did you feel the next day, how was your workout, did you lose weight or gain weight, how do your clothes fit, and how do you feel when you look at yourself naked in the mirror.
Now ask yourself if you are making the right choices to help you reach your goal.