Alcohol and the Athlete

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Alcohol is in everyones lives and it something that can’t really be un-avoided unless you want to completely go cold turkey. However alcohol can have a significant negative impact on athlete or individuals who are training heavily for competition. For the average person working out, as long as they aren’t drinking heavily, won’t have a big impact on exercise. Drinking heavily means having 3-5 drinks or more per day. Men are recommended to have 2 drinks maximum and women to have 1 drink maximum.

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Alcohol has a wide variety of impacts on athletic performance. One huge impact is in regards to muscle repair, which can decrease an athletes or body builders potential to build muscle mass and decrease body fat. This is a huge issue with college athletes since not only are they underage, but this is prime time when they really start focusing on building muscle. Besides growth hormone, alcohol also reduces the amount of testosterone that is released in the body, which is a hormone needed to gain muscles. An important impact on athletes that play ball sports and any sport is that alcohol decreases hand-eye coordination, accuracy, and balance, which are all crucial skills needed in this type of sport. Furthermore because of all the negative impacts and its depression of the immune system, it can delay the healing process, so athletes that are already injured should refrain from drinking during the healing period.

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Binge drinking is obviously very dangerous for athletes, exercises, and your average person. The negative impacts seen above are long lasting based on the amount of drinks you have and the amount of days you are drinking in a row. The more you drink, the more your entire week of training will decrease. Also if you are working out after a heavy night of drinking 5 or more drinks, not only will your brain and body be impacted, but typically you will be sluggish and not have the power needed to push yourself through a real workout and experience gains from it.

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Dehydration is a huge issue when it comes to drinking alcohol. When consuming alcohol it leads to your kidneys producing more urine, so drinking too much can lead to a much larger urine output than normal. If you workout soon after drinking, your sweat in combination with the diuretic impact of alcohol can lead to severe dehydration. In turn, dehydration causes a negative impact on athletic performance. Also alcohol interferes with your body producing energy due to the fact that alcohol is processed in the liver, which is where glucose is produced. Therefore with low blood sugars, your body isn’t going to be able to work at the rate that it is normally used to.

I’m definitely not saying to not drink because once you are 21 it is a normal thing to have a beer or glass of wine with a meal. My recommendation is to significantly cut back on alcohol during important training periods or competitions, and consume alcohol in moderation during lower phases of training. Here are some healthier options when choosing something to drink:


Just remember to THINK before you DRINK!


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