It’s only appropriate that on St. Patrick’s Day, there is no better time for a few gentle reminders concerning the detrimental effects of drinking too much alcohol. We tend to forget that these liquids can have such an impact on our health, exercise performance, and weight management.
Let’s take a look at some of these effects:
All alcohol interferes with your efforts in weight loss… why? Because alcohol causes your body to burn LESS stored fat for energy. Some people fool themselves into thinking that beer and wine are not really hard liquor and can be less detrimental, but this is not the case.
Beer is a very popular drink, especially for men at this time of year. Bars have many specials going on, offering everything from “all day Happy Hour” to green beer. This is all very enticing, but here is what can potentially happen and why beer can contribute to too much weight gain and bloated belly. Your body stores sugar in your liver as glycogen. When blood sugar drops between meals, your liver converts glycogen into glucose, releasing it into the blood stream. This does not take place when alcohol is present. Glucose does not get converted into glycogen. This causes your brain to think you are hungry and you begin to eat everything in sight! Sound familiar? This is usually the cause of one too many chicken wings! With this in mind, try eating a healthy meal before heading out to the bar to celebrate the day!
The other problem with beer is that barley is the protein found in most beers, and barley contains gluten, which a lot of people have a sensitivity to. Try choosing those beers that are made without gluten if this is your problem. They are becoming more and more popular and can make a difference in when dealing with bloat and digestion.
Women love their wine! This can pose the same weight gain problem. There is a lot of sugar in wine, and without food in your belly prior to drinking or while drinking can pave the way to too much food later. The many articles out there promoting the fact that a glass of wine a day is good for you is just not true! If you are trying to lose weight and maintain a consistent exercise protocol, limit the wine to social events.
Effects on exercise
Alcohol is very detrimental to performance while exercising because of how it effects the body in general. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which can lead to dehydration, especially with the combination of sweating. We always encourage drinking lots of water while exercising so that oxygen and nutrients can get delivered to the muscles and tissues of the body.
Alcohol also causes a decrease in motor skills and impairs judgement. This can be very dangerous as one can misjudge their weights, choose incorrectly, drop them, etc.
As mentioned above, when alcohol is present and the liver cannot produce enough glucose, resulting in low levels of blood sugar, performance is affected. You will have less energy and your coordination and concentration is affected.
All alcohol is high in sugar. It contains as many calories as pure fat, at seven calories a gram. Also if you are trying to pack on muscle, it is important to note that because alcohol disrupts sleep, it affects growth hormones which are released while you sleep .
Alcohol is a diuretic which forces the kidneys to urinate more than you take in.
“For every 1g of alcohol taken in, urine excretion increases by 10 ml”
Eggleton MG. The effect of nicotine on the diuresis induced by ethyl alcohol. J Physiol. 1949 Jun 15;108(4):482–490.
Your body is made up of 70% water and we cannot afford to lose more than we use daily. For all this fluid lost from alcohol, you will need to make sure that you give back to your cells. Hangovers and headaches are most often the result of dehydration!
The good news is that choosing to exercise after you have had too much to drink is one of the best ways to get rid of that “hangover feeling”. Through sweating, you can manage to get rid of all the toxins coming from the fermented sugars in your body! Nothing feels as good as getting the heart rate up, using muscles, clearing the head and BREATHING
Conclusion? Make wise decisions. Eat a well-balanced meal while you engage in the festivities or have a few drinks with friends. Drink plenty of water before and after alcoholic drinks to replenish the fluids lost. Lastly, if you do feel groggy the next day after consuming a few, get up, get exercising and replenish your body with oxygen!
By Frances Michaelson
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