Whether you do it once, or over a long period, drinking too much alcohol affects your body and health in many negative ways:
- Bone weakness
- Kidney disease
- Cancer (throat, liver, breast, intestine)
- Brain damage
- Heart disease
- Lung infections
- Stomach ulcers
- Malabsorption of nutrients by the intestines
- Infertility in women/Impotence and Infertility in men
- Anxiety, depression and stress.
I guess most of you know this by now.
However, every now and then, we like being social, we all have friends that we want to hang out with and special occasions to celebrate, or we simply enjoy having a glass of wine with our dinner. All this is perfectly fine as long as it’s done in moderation.
Did you know that our bodies can only process roughly one glass of alcohol per hour after, you have had two drinks?
So anything more than that, will be overwhelming on your liver and kidneys.
On this article I want to talk about the most important topics concerning alcohol, the effect it has on your performance, what exactly happens to our body when we drink, and some of my best tips on what to do relating to food and training on those days you will be drinking.
Here we go:
THE FAT MYTH
I hear a lot of people say that alcohol makes you fat. Well, that’s is not necessarily true.
A calorie is a calorie, and gaining and losing fat depends only on whether you have a calorie deficit or surplus. It’s not the drinking that makes you fat. It’s the surplus calories you had on that day, whether from food or drink.
So supposedly you had a big food day + drinks, and you are on a calorie surplus for the day, you will most likely put on weight if you constantly repeat that pattern.
If you had a light/healthy food day + one or two drinks, and you are on a calorie deficit for the day, you will NOT put on weight, even if you had a few drinks.
My TIP for not going over calories with drinking: Avoid sugary drinks such as cocktails and beers. Best thing is to mix your alcohol with low-calorie drinks such as soda water, sparkling water, fresh lemon juice or just have a shot.
The idea here is to minimise the number of calories with your drinks.
Also be mindful of how many drinks you are having. This one is a tricky one for many people but it’s super important.
THE LIVER AND ITS PROCESSES
The liver treats alcohol as a poison. That’s why it cannot store it as real food. As soon as the alcohol reaches your liver, your liver will want to get that out of your body. For that reason, it’s given top priority in terms of metabolism.
As your body will be “busy” trying to get that poison out of your system, the metabolism for processing fat after consuming alcohol is reduced.
My TIP: Reduce your fat intake (all those fatty foods we usually crave) on the days you will be drinking or the next day. Those crazy food cravings we have after a night bend will most likely be stored as fat.
ALCOHOL AND MUSCLE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS
We all know that muscle protein synthesis is crucial after a training session, either for muscle recovery or for muscle growth.
The thing is, muscle protein synthesis is reduced by 37% when drinking alcohol, especially in the post-workout period.
There is only one way to make this better… and it’s by eating protein!
It’s been scientifically proven that if alcohol is consumed with a protein source, the percentage goes down to 24% which is pretty significant but don’t get too excited because alcohol still reduces your protein synthesis.
My TIP: If you are going to be drinking, make sure you have some kind of protein source before. It could be a protein shake, eggs, a can of tuna or whatever source you prefer, to offset SOME of the negative effects of the alcohol on your system.
Antioxidant foods also help, such as blueberries, strawberries, dark chocolate, and a lot of water! Give a little extra help to your kidneys and liver.
ALCOHOL AND THE GUT
Binge drinking is also known to increase the chances of “leaky gut” syndrome – allowing bacteria and toxins to leak from the intestines into the bloodstream where they are immediately detected as foreign substances by the immune system, causing further inflammatory response, tissue damage and fever.
My TIP: Make sure you look after your guts, supplementing it with probiotics capsules and fibre foods to help keep your gut bacteria healthy.
ALCOHOL AND CORTISOL LEVELS
Alcohol can also Increase cortisol levels, which also goes back into the muscle protein synthesis subject. The higher your cortisol levels, the less muscle recovery or growth you will have.
My TIP: I guess whatever you drink will interfere with your training next day. But if you drink heaps that will take even longer to be out of your body so basically, know your limits and when to stop.
If you do happen to have too many drinks that night, accept that your workout the next day will most likely be below average. Maybe a better option would be to take the day off from the gym, rather than force yourself through a workout that will not end well, possibly effecting further workouts.
My TIP: Use that day to recover and hydrate your body as much as possible for the next training session!
And most importantly, enjoy your night!
Cheers guys xxx