Whether you're a sporadic gym-goer or a daily fitness enthusiast, even a modest intake of alcohol can significantly impact your performance, undermining the fruits of your dedicated training. Sure, we all enjoy an occasional beer or a glass of wine, but moderation is key. Excessive drinking could nullify the gains you've worked so hard to achieve over months of dedicated training. 
So, how does alcohol affect your body and impact your sports performance? Let's find out! 

1. Decreased performance 

Ever felt a little sluggish during a workout after a night of indulgence? Alcohol messes with our body's ability to produce energy. It reduces glucose production in the liver, essential for sustaining high-intensity workouts. It also impairs attention span, reaction time, and focus-critical elements in sports performance. 

2. Dehydration 

That dry mouth and pounding headache the morning after a few drinks? Blame it on alcohol's diuretic effects. It prompts our kidneys to produce more urine, leading to dehydration. For athletes, this spells trouble, as dehydration not only affects performance but also heightens the risk of injury and slows down recovery. 

3. Nutrition woes 

We've all made questionable food choices after a night out. Alcohol consumption often leads to poor dietary decisions, affecting proper nutrition and fuelling for workouts. Plus, it interferes with nutrient absorption, further impacting performance. 

4. Disrupted sleep 

Contrary to popular belief, that nightcap might not be helping you sleep better. Alcohol disrupts sleep cycles, affecting the body's ability to store glycogen and leading to increased cortisol levels. This interferes with muscle repair and growth, vital for post-workout recovery. 

5. Increased injury risk 

Alcohol weakens skeletal muscles, delaying their recovery and growth. This leaves the body more susceptible to injuries and elongates recovery periods. Additionally, the strain on organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys intensifies during exercise after alcohol consumption, raising injury risks further. 

6. Delayed recovery 

If you're nursing an injury, consider steering clear of alcohol. Research indicates that alcohol impedes the body's natural healing processes, slowing down recovery times. 

7. Fat build-up 

Those sneaky calories in alcohol can lead to fat deposits and fluid retention, impacting overall performance. Moreover, alcohol consumption during workouts can reduce the calories burnt, as the body prioritises metabolising alcohol over fat. 

8. Pain masking 

Ever felt like you could push through pain more easily after a few drinks? That's because alcohol affects nerve endings, masking pain. However, ignoring pain signals can lead to further injury. Listening to your body is crucial! 
So, while that post-game beer might feel rewarding, it's essential to understand the toll it can take on our bodies, sports performance, and recovery. Moderation and mindful consumption play a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy balance between social enjoyment and athletic endeavours. 

You can even swap to alcohol-free alternatives! 

Some decent craft beers have now begun to emerge, weighing in at under 0.5% ABV. So far, we've tried Nanny State by BrewDog and that's not bad. Gin more your thing? Try Seedlip. There's two varieties available, we've tested both and we approve! Wine-wise there's a fair few bottles on the market that aren't too bad. It's worth giving them a try to see what you think. 
Remember, staying hydrated, prioritising proper nutrition, getting adequate rest, and avoiding excessive alcohol intake are key factors in optimising sports performance and recovery. Let's raise a glass to better informed and healthier choices both on and off the field! 
Interested in becoming a Sports Massage Therapist? Find out more about our introduction days and courses here! If you’d like more information, you can also get in touch with our friendly team who will be happy to help. 
Tagged as: Alcohol, Health, performance
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