Whether your going to a kegger or doing some CrossFit-style keg lifting, “Work Hard, Play Harder” is the motto around here at Go HAM. But when we’re weight training, that “play harder” part is strictly Virgin. We’re not tea-totallers, but there are some things that just don’t mix, like lifting weights and getting hammered. This may seem obvious, but for some of us it's always a tough-to-swallow reminder of what effects alcohol has on our bodies.
The Effects of Alcohol on Bodybuilders & Athletes
Think of what needs to happen in order for you to build muscle.
- Converting fat into muscle
One substance that makes all of those things harder is alcohol.
Just 2-3 standard drinks can cause:
- Impaired cellular repair
- Disrupted sleep
- Decreased strength
- Impaired reaction time
- Impaired fine motor skills
- Increased fatigue
- Decreased endurance and aerobic capacity
Alcohol stays in your system up to 48 hours after your last drink, which means if you are training for a bodybuilding competition or a marathon, plan on ordering “near-beer” for the foreseeable future.
We all know that drinking does a number on your liver function, but that has other implications for the rest of your body as well. Liver metabolizes alcohol at the expense of glycogen, a metabolized carbohydrate that is required for most cellular functions, like building and repairing muscles.
Dehydration is another primary effect of alcohol, and dehydration impacts kidney function, which in turn messes with regulating electrolytes and fluids in the body. The result? Fatigue and loss of strength.
I don’t know how important a good night’s rest is to your performance, but I do know that it’s 100% vital to my performance (in the gym, at the office, and on the sports field). Alcohol has been proven to disrupt deep sleep, causing drinkers to wake up tired (if not hungover).
And… drinking makes it more difficult to turn fat into muscle. In fact, if you’re trying to lose weight, you’d better stick to one glass of wine with dinner, max. Excessive alcohol consumption lowers the body’s fat oxidation rate, making it much more difficult to burn fat.
When it comes to athletes in training, having a few drinks comes with too high a price. It decreases the quality of your workouts, tanks your performance, and lessens your ability to Go HAM.