Happy hour. The weekend. Sunday Funday. Birthdays. Holidays. We live in a culture that promotes a certain amount of social drinking. We can find a plethora of excuses to indulge every week, but what are those drinks doing to your training?.
We all have learned that proper nutrition, rest, and training hard will produce excellent results. We know alcohol isn’t exactly healthy but it can’t undo your work can it? You earned it! You deserve to relax. Well….I hate to burst your bubble but it does hurt your progress. Significantly.
Consuming alcohol after a wod, lifting session, or competition can cancel out any physiological gains you could have had from the activity. Not only does long-term alcohol usage diminish protein synthesis and decrease potenial muscle build-up, but even short-term alcohol use can impede muscle growth. Whoa….
Let’s break this down. Firstly, alcohol use greatly affects the quality of your sleep. You need deep sleep to repair your muscle tissue. During this rest your body has access to HGH (Human growth hormone) which those muscles need to grow and get swole!! Well it’s been scientifically proven that alcohol can decrease the secretion of HGH by as much as 70%. That’s a serious percentage.
When your body metabolizes alcohol, a substance in your liver that is directly toxic to testosterone is produced. My last blog talked about how crucial testosterone levels are to your precious gains and how it is essential for the development and recovery of your muscles. Alcohol can also disrupt the water balance in muscle cells, altering their ability to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is your muscles’ source of energy. ATP provides the energy needed for muscles to contract. Alcohol is a toxic substance to your body. It goes without saying it causes dehydration which makes your recovery time between workouts longer.
I know that’s alot of science nonsense but what about your brain? Your ability to process new techniques? Reaction time? Well it really messes with that!!
When you drink, your brain’s ability to learn and store information is inhibited due to alcohol affecting the hippocampus. A little high school biology and most of us remember that is the part of the brain we use when forming new memories. New memories are fully formed when you are not thinking of the information, such as during sleep. Your REM cycle is where this magic occurs, however, you’re most likely to skip it after a night out with your buddies. Not enough REM sleep and you are clinically deprived!! The sleep deprivation also suppresses normal hormonal levels decreasing oxygen availability and consumption ….decreasing endurance. Let’s go have some tequila and run a 5K…said no one…ever.
Here are a few more statistics if I haven’t convinced you yet!!
•Consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in one night can affect brain and body activities for up to three days!!
•Two consecutive nights of drinking five or more alcoholic beverages can affect brain and body activities for up to five days!!
•Attention span is shorter for periods up to forty-eight hours after drinking!
•Even a low BAC of .03 can persist for a substantial period of time after the acute effects of alcohol impairment disappear!!
Plus….the weight gain.
Alcohol is loaded with empty calories that our body metabolizes as fat. A night of drinking leaves our body nutritionally starved. Our body will then store those empty calories as fat. There is also the poor food choices we all have made after drinking too much….or feeling the effects of a hangover the next day.
Bottom line is this. If you have serious athletic, strength or physique goals the booze has got to go. It can hold you back more than you might notice but if you have the will to cut it out, the gains can be exponential. Here’s to the Riptide Crossfit Athletes embarking on a 60 day no alcohol challenge!! You can do it!! Happy hour will be spent at a different kind of Bar 😉