Anyone who has ripped it up on the dance floor after a night of drinking would probably say that that alcohol can loosen you up and help you move. However, having alcohol in your system when you work out can actually be detrimental to any type of exercise you are trying to do.
While the occasional drink is fine (and even healthy, if you’re a red wine fan!) alcohol essentially garners all of your body’s attention when it is consumed. Having any booze in your system while you work out can diminish the regimen’s effectiveness. Other times, too many drinks will kill your workout altogether. Here’s what you need to know to lose the boozy behavior.
Alcohol demands your body’s full attention
Many people love alcohol, but let’s face it – it’s a poison. When you have alcohol in your system, almost your entire body is working to metabolize it and essentially get it out. The body prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol over burning fat and carbs, so when you are working out (even if you are fully focused on the routine) your body may not be reaping the full benefits.
Alcohol slows your muscles’ recovery
After a workout, your muscles are generally in need of repair, because vigorous exercise drains glycogen stores, the carbs that are stored in your liver and muscles. If you drink right after working out, the alcohol displaces these carbs, making the stores 50 percent lower than normal – even after a night of sleep. Skip those post-gym cocktails and help your muscles recover with a protein-rich snack instead.
Booze it and lose it – your motivation, that is
You know that horrendous feeling you get when you wake up after a night of heavy drinking? How many times have you actually wanted to get up and go exercise when you are hungover? Even if you’ve only had one too many, you may feel too tired or are too busy nursing the headache and nausea you have to consider stepping on a treadmill or lifting a finger – let alone a free weight.
Alcohol also negatively impacts your sleep, which then impacts your energy level, muscle recovery and motivation to work out. Even though it feels like you’re dead to the world when you’re asleep under the influence, alcohol has been proven to decrease the amount of time you are asleep and disrupt your zzz’s throughout the night. A bad night of sleep is certainly not going to motivate you to run a 5K.
Add in the surplus of empty calories that alcohol delivers into your body and the way it dehydrates you, and there literally could not be a worse beverage to have before (or after) hitting the gym. Like anything, moderation is key!