It seems that alcoholism is a rising issue and it can be hurting more than just your liver. Nearly half of active duty service members reported binge drinking in 2008, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Among two-parent families in 2014, four percent of fathers and three percent of mothers reported regular heavy drinking. While heavy drinking is not necessarily indicative of alcohol abuse or alcoholism, people who binge drink are at a higher risk for alcohol-related disorders than those who don’t. And drinking alcohol in excess is bad for your health in general and also hurting your fitness.
Here are a few ways alcohol may be detracting from your fitness goals.
Alcohol causes low-blood sugar
Your body digests most foods and beverages in the same way, but alcohol is different. When you drink alcohol, your liver’s ability to produce glucose is diminished. And when you exercise, your body needs glucose. If you exercise after drinking a lot of alcohol, your body may use fat instead of glucose to burn energy. This may sound like a great thing, but it comes at the expense of your dexterity and coordination.
Alcohol dehydrates you
You probably already know how important it is to stay hydrated during a workout. When you exercise, your body loses hydration in the form of sweat. But if you’re working out after a night of binge drinking, you’re starting from a disadvantage. Dehydration can cause negative symptoms, including headaches and increased thirst. But it can also hurt your physical performance.
Alcohol equates to empty calories
If you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight, alcohol may be your worst enemy. On average, alcoholic beverages contain about seven calories per gram without any substantial nutritional value.
Even if you’re one of those people who can’t seem to gain weight, alcohol will work against your fitness goals by decreasing your calorie burn during workouts. The body also focuses on getting rid of alcohol, which is a toxin, over absorbing nutrients. Alcohol and workouts are a lose-lose situation.
Alcohol diminishes heart health
When you drink alcohol, it puts unnecessary stress on your heart and can increase your blood pressure and heart rate. If you drink regularly over time, alcohol can cause a disease of your heart muscle called cardiomyopathy. For these reasons, alcohol will have a negative impact on your workouts in the short and long term. It’s best to avoid alcohol altogether if possible. If not, try to drink in moderation and stay hydrated.
Alcohol makes workout recovery harder
Do you know that burn you feel a day or two after the workout? Well, you can expect that to get worse whenever you drink alcohol. This is especially true if you drink alcohol right after a workout. Alcohol will increase your cortisol levels and decrease testosterone, which is a bad combination for recovery.
Even in moderation, alcohol can be detrimental to your body, but its effects are especially damaging over time. If you think you have a problem with drinking, it’s time to seek help. If you’re a moderate drinker who is having trouble stopping, try going to group therapy. If you have a more serious alcohol addiction, consider joining a detox program.
Alcoholism can take a serious toll on your body and can quickly diminish your fitness level.