The Effects of Alcohol and Performance

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by Erik Uuksulainen

The Effects of Alcohol and Performance
By now, most of us have a handle on the ways we should prepare our bodies before, during and after exercise, both to improve performance and optimize recovery of muscle and connective tissue.

Too often though, we overlook the little things that can really be holding back strength and performance gains. I’m talking about alcohol here and what detrimental effects it can have on your training.

So, might you be alright with snagging a few weekend drinks with friends? Or, if you are really good with nutrition and portion control, can you sub out booze for food? And what about if you are in the cutting phase of your program, should you cut alcohol completely out for a few weeks or months?

These are the quandaries many of us face on a daily basis, so the real question is – just what does alcohol to do my body at the biochemical level and how does that impact muscle growth and performance development? Next, we will shed some light onto key issues, so you can take the information and make smart choices about when alcohol can be included in your nutritional plan.

Performance, Alcohol and Dehydration

Alcohol is a diuretic which is any compound that promotes urinary excretion, much the same as caffeinated products like teas, coffee and energy drinks.  If your hydration input does not match your output when you go to the bathroom, symptoms like muscular fatigue, cramping and decreased performance begin to arise because your body is trying to buffer and hydrate tissues with water that it does not have access to. Research shows detrimental effects of power and strength output when total dehydration amounts to only 2-3% loss of total body weight. Those who workout out aggressively and with higher intensities should note that rates of serious injury increase dramatically with dehydration.

Testosterone and Alcohol

Testosterone and Alcohol
Our bodies secrete chemicals naturally to help with growth, maintenance and development of various tissues and structures. Testosterone is a hormone secreted chemically by the body and a key factor in muscle development, growth and maintenance.

When alcohol is in one’s system, it negatively impacts the normal testosterone secreting process, as well as disrupts enzyme patterns necessary for testosterone synthesis. The result is lowered recovery rate, slower muscular gains and having to work harder to maintain the good gains you already have.

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