ALCOHOL and SPORT

Alcohol is a regular after sports drink and or celebration.
A beer after a training run, a few beers after a game win or loss,
a few drinks just for “team spirit”.

Alcohol regularly affects sleep,
decreases recovery from injury causes dehydration,
headaches and negatively affects
production of hormones for muscle growth and repair.


  1. Sleep: Alcohol is shown to disrupt sleep cycles throughout the night. This has a negative effect on energy levels, athletic performance and recovery of muscle damage.
  2. Injury: When you sustain an injury, the body has an inflammatory response. Alcohol has been shown to limit this response thus increasing recovery time, masking the pain and increasing the risk of re-injury. Alcohol should be avoided for 72 hours after the injury.
  3. Growth hormone: Testosterone and other hormones are essential for muscle recovery post-exercise. Alcohol inhibits the function of these hormones thus impairing the repair processes.
  4. Dehydration: The alcohol “binge” the night before a run, a cycle, a big game can be detrimental in dehydrating the body by increasing urine output and causing peripheral vasodilation. This will increase the loss of fluid. An athlete needs to be hydrated for exercise to maintain blood flow throughout the body which is essential for circulating oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
  5. Nutrition: When breaking down alcohol, the liver will produce less glucose. This means a low level of blood sugar. Exercise requires a high level of glucose for energy. Professor Whyte explains that “if your body is forced to run from your supplies of fat rather than blood glucose; you will be slower, have less energy and won’t be able to exercise as intensely”

BOTTOM LINE:

Athletes should remain wary of ingesting alcohol following intense exercise, focusing instead on effective dietary strategies proven to enhance recovery.
To all athletes out there KNOW the negative effects of alcohol both pre and post activity. Be cautious. For more information on this you can read the following article,
Is Alcohol an Athlete’s Enemy

ENJOY YOUR SPORT. CHEERS.

Resources:

Barnes et al 2014 Ebrahim et al 2013
Haugvad et al 2014 the Ultra health network


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