“Yo it’s the weekend, it’s time to get lit!”
Woah there buddy, hold your horses. Sure, going out on the town and having some drinks with some friends can be fun from time to time. But in college, it’s usually not a “time to time” occurrence now is it? Being an older undergraduate student in a fraternity, I know I’ve had my fair share of wild and crazy nights, probably too many if I’m being completely honest. But have you ever stopped and thought about how all this alcohol you’ve been downing is costing you your gains? Probably not, which is why I’m writing this article.
Caloric Cost of Alcohol
Alcohol can’t be that bad right? What if you’re drinking a beer? Or maybe vodka? Let’s put it this way. Your average beer is around 100-150 calories. I know just about anyone can pound at least 3-4 of these suckers down no problem. Right there you’re looking at about 400-600 extra calories that serve your body no purpose and can’t really be used in any way other than fat storage. Congratulations, you played yourself.
“But what about liquor? It doesn’t have as many calories as beer, right?”
Well… no. While you may be able to pound 4 shots of liquor down and think that you’re drinking less, the size of the cup doesn’t matter. 1.5 oz of liquor is equal to 12 oz of beer in terms of alcohol, and alcohol is 7 calories per gram. This means the calories will also be the same in a shot of liquor as it would be in a bottle of beer; meaning, you’re still consuming more calories that your body can’t use beneficially.
But so what? You’re taking in a few extra calories, big deal. There can’t be any other cons to alcohol in regard to fitness, right? Well… wrong again.
Effects of Alcohol on Fitness
What’s the one thing we all dread after going out and drinking too much? The dreaded morning-after hangover. This hangover is the result of your body being depleted of necessary electrolytes and water that help keep your brain and body functioning at its full capabilities. Without those necessary nutrients, your body’s productivity and performance are going to plummet, meaning your workouts will be less than stellar (if you even have the energy to get up and go to the gym, that is).
The hangover is definitely a huge con in and of itself, but excessive consumption of alcohol can actually lead to a drop in testosterone, as much as a 20-40% drop after an insane-blackout kind of night or as much as 75% if you drink consistently over a couple weeks. So if you’re trying to put on some serious muscle, alcohol is your biggest enemy since testosterone is a vital hormone when it comes to muscle reparation and growth.
What’s also scary is that drinking can increase your chances of having irregular or unusual heart rhythms. Working out a day or two after excessive or heavy drinking places a lot of strain on the heart since it has been so busy pumping blood everywhere else to try and filter out the alcohol. In the long-term, it can have serious impacts on the body such as heart disease, cancer, and liver disease. It’s like asking someone to work a double shift, sucks when you do it once, but really starts to take its toll when you end up doing doubles all the time.
How To Minimize Cons
“Well damn, drinking can really affect my fitness and health. Is there any way to avoid thee cons?”
Absolutely there is, it’s called “don’t drink as much”! Every time you go out, you should always be counting how many drinks you are having. Plan to only have a maximum of 3-4 drinks when you go out, and I wouldn’t recommend going out more than once or twice a week. The more often you avoid excessive drinking, or drinking at all, you better your chance of staying physically fit and staying healthy. And remember: always be drinking water. If you go out and drink, be sure to have a glass of water in between each drink to minimize the risk of a hangover the next day and to keep your body fully functional.
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“Can Alcohol Affect Sports Performance and Fitness Levels.” Is Alcohol Harming Your Stomach | Drinkaware, http://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/lifestyle/can-alcohol-affect-sports-performance-and-fitness-levels/.
English, Nick. “Does Alcohol Affect Strength Training?” BarBend, BarBend, 16 Feb. 2017, barbend.com/alcohol-affect-strength-training/.