April 7, 2014
Did you know that consuming alcohol after a workout, practice or competition can cancel out any physiological gains you may have received during your session. Not only does long term alcohol use diminish protein synthesis that results in a decrease in muscle build-up, short term alcohol use prevents muscle growth, which is one of the reasons we work out so hard.
Now, I'm not saying you should become a teetotaler. I like wine tasting and here in Cambria we live in one of the world's great wine regions. But if you're trying to make progress
— whether you're a walker or an elite athlete
— it's wise to be judicious about alcohol consumption. We know a lot more about its effects on athletic performance today than we did back when Tour de France riders drank wine on their bikes during a race!
In view of Alcohol Awareness Month in April, here are some effects to be aware of on athletic performance when drinking alcohol:
Human Growth Hormone
— To build bigger and stronger muscles our body needs sleep to repair itself after a workout. Because of alcohol's effect on sleep the body is robbed of HGH or human growth hormone. HGH is a part of the normal muscle building and repair process and the body's way of telling itself your muscles need to grow and get stronger. It can decrease this secretion by as much as 70 percent.
Testosterone — One thing that is essential for muscle development and recovery is testosterone. But alcohol triggers the production of a substance in your liver that is toxic to testosterone. And yes, testosterone is important for women too. According to Clif Arrington, of anti-agingmd.com based in Hawaii, says it can improve memory, boost energy, revive your interest in sex, and in general increase your entire sense of well being.
Dehydration and Muscle Cramps — Alcohol slows down the body's ability to heal itself. Alcohol is a toxin — toxins travel through our bloodstream to our body's organs and tissues. By the time you become severely dehydrated your body no longer has enough fluids to get blood to your organs. In extreme situations an individual can go into shock which can be life threatening.
Vital Nutrients — Not only is alcohol lacking any nutritional value it also inhibits the absorption of thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B12, folic acid and zinc. Thiamin is essential to optimal performance. It plays an important role in metabolizing carbohydrates. Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy red blood and nerve cells. Folic acid is involved in the formation of new cells. A lack of folic acid causes megoloblastic anemia which is a lowering of oxygen carrying capacity. This will effect one's endurance. Zinc is essential to your energy metabolic process.
Energy Source — Once absorbed through your stomach, small intestines and cells, it can can disrupt the water balance in muscle cells. This disruption changes their ability to produce ATP, adenosine triphosphate, which is your muscles’ source of energy. ATP provides the fuel needed for muscle contraction.
So given all this information I will conclude that, yes indeed, alcohol does affect athletic performance. And let's face it whether we are running our first 5k, powerwalk, marathon, triathalon or just trying to build muscle and stay healthy it can effect our ability to reach our goals. I truly believe that we are all athletes in our own way and the more information we have to figure out the best way we can achieve our goals the easier it is to make those decisions along the way.