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How alcohol affects your fitness

How alcohol affects your fitness

Have you ever been in the gym after a night out drinking and been frustrated at how lethargic and weak you feel? Obviously this is going to be down to the alcohol, you are not the only person who is going to have experienced this but why is it so apparent? I’m afraid it’s not good news….

First of all alcohol is a diuretic, this means it forces the increase in the rate of urination. Specifically it acts as a vasopressin inhibitor, this is also known as ADH and this regulates the rate of water reabsorption in the kidneys. Thus meaning more water is lost during urination. Co-insiding with this effect is it’s solubility, alcohol is transported around the body in the blood plasma. It’s a polar molecule and prefers being dissolved in water as opposed to fat. This effect causes it to remove water from cells so that it can dissolve, the more alcohol in your system the more dehydrated you become.

This dehydration is going to set you back as muscles energy supply have a dependance on how saturated they are, creatine process‘ etc. Protein synthesis is also disrupted and slowed, so the hard work in the gym is lost.

Along with dehydration alcohol also inhibits the release of growth hormones and testosterone. Growth hormones are important when it comes to cell growth and development as well as bone growth. This is primarily related to when alcohol disrupts your sleeping pattern, as it’s in the early hours this hormone is released. Testosterone is also affected by alcohol, as the by products produced when it is broken down in the liver such as ethanal are toxic towards it.

So in summary when trying to build fitness and muscle, alcohol is a huge impediment but how about if you’re trying to lose fat?

The way in which your body gets rid of fat is via lipid oxidation. Studies have shown just 3 units of alcohol can reduce fat oxidation by 70%. You also have to remember the fact that alcohol is highly calorific, with it’s effects of decreasing the rate of fat loss and it’s increase in the rate of fat storage, a net result of fat gain is seen. This is obviously a undesired effect, I am also sure you have noticed how alcohol increases your appetite, lowers your inhibitions and senses so that you will most likely consume a fatty kebab or burger. I’m sure everyone has done it once in a while.

I’m not saying you should completely cut alcohol out of your life, it is a brilliant social lubricant and you will build great relationships from meeting people at parties and social gatherings. I think it’s important to be aware of what effects it does have on your fitness goals and to enjoy it in moderation to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comment below, thanks.

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