Do you enjoy a beer or glass of wine when you get home after a long day? Do you go out with your friends a few times per week and have a few drinks each time? Seems harmless, right? Well there is a bigger story going on under the surface than just the noticable effects of alcohol on your body.
Alcohol is in complete opposition to the changes taking place in your body when you train. The hard work that you put in to burning fat, losing weight, and building muscle is negated on those days when you decide to have a drink or two.
Here are the ways that alcohol minimizes your training gains:
Anything you eat or drink supplies your body with energy (calories). Whether those calories come from protein, carbohydrates, fat, or alcohol, calories are calories.
However, alcohol provides almost twice as many calories as protein and carbohydrates, specifically 7 calories/gram as compared to 4 calories/gram. This means that even shots have calories.
Add to that the copious amounts of sugars that come in mixed drinks and you have a recipe for a lot of calories with not a lot to show for it… Aside from the fat that is stored as a result of the excess calories in your system.
Shuts Down Recovery
If it just stopped at coloric intake, it really wouldn’t be that big of a deal. We have all done the “How many miles to burn this off” math and at the end of the day we should enjoy food and not obsess over every calorie. However, alcohol has a much more troubling effect.
Alcohol is a toxin at its most basic level. This means that after a few drinks, your body shuts down all fat-burning and muscle-recovery processes and puts all of its energy into breaking down the alcohol and getting it out of your system. This means that the most important part of your training (recovery) is put on the back burner and incredibly important phases of recovery could be skipped altogether.
A Bad Exchange
When you consume alcohol, you are essentailly getting the bum end of the deal on both ends. You are taking in more calories per gram than any other drink option and you body shuts down its fat burning and muscle building processes. When you combine these two, it is easy to see the major drawback of alcohol.
Everything In Moderation
Here is the point: Drinking too often will have detrimental effects on your body’s ability to recover and progress.
So what is the answer? Everything in moderation.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a drink from time to time. In fact, being able to partake in the foods and drinks that you enjoy is healthy part of maintaining a healthy diet for the long haul.
Just make sure that you are being mindful of how often you are drinking. Consuming 1-2 drinks per week is a good limit for anyone who is serious about making progress in their training. Any more than that and you are shooting yourself in the foot.
Train hard. Eat well. Drink responsibly.