Drink Alcohol and Exercise

Edited by Train Wreck, Eng, VisiHow

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If you're considering drinking and exercising, it's important to know how alcohol affects your body. In fact, alcohol and exercise facts are very different than some of the stories you may have read about the alcohol workout, running, weight loss, or even the alcohol diet. The truth is, exercise of any sort requires you to be in good physical condition, alert, and mentally aware. If you've been drinking, chances are you're none of these. That means an alcohol workout is dangerous for you. It's also dangerous to anyone around you. Read on to learn why alcohol and exercise don't mix.

What You Need to Know about Drinking Alcohol and Exercise

Each of us is physically different. The individual effects of alcohol are also very different from person to person. However, drinking has a number of negative effects that are constant from person to person. Even though your body weight and whether you're male or female can change how fast you get drunk, alcohol is a depressant that hurts us all when we exercise. Below are some important facts about alcohol and exercise.

  1. 1
    Alcohol and Weight Loss
    Four to five drinks per week can help to improve the body's HDL cholesterol levels. This is the good kind of cholesterol. More than this, and there isn't much extra benefit. However, you will be adding extra calories. How much depends on what you drink. A shot of vodka, a glass of wine, or whiskey on ice won't have nearly the same calories as a Sea Breeze or rum and Coke. Add the sugary drinks up over an evening, and you could be consuming 400 calories or more of pure sugar. That doesn't even count the extra empty calories from alcohol, which, if you're wondering, is 7 calories per gram. That's almost as much as pure fat. You could have just had a cheeseburger and fries instead.
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  2. 2
    Drinking Before You Exercise
    This is one of the worst things you can do. First, alcohol negatively impacts your physical motor coordination. Nothing says quick hospital trip like falling off a treadmill or dropping a stack of weights on your foot. Worse, alcohol is a diuretic, meaning the body uses water to process it, producing more urine. This, coupled with the increased body temperature you'll have when working out, can quickly dehydrate you. The result is a less productive workout at best. At worst, you can dehydrate yourself, which can lead to alcohol poisoning if you drink later.
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  3. 3
    Post Workout Drinking
    If you drink alcohol after you work out, even later in the evening, you're looking at a significantly reduced level of protein synthesis. In practical terms, if you work out Friday morning, and then drink that night, you won't notice as much loss. However, it gets worse if you're drinking right after a workout, such as hitting the gym, showering, and then meeting friends for drinks. In this case you can see anywhere from a 20-40 percent reduction in protein synthesis. While it's not a huge issue if you only do it once a week, doing it two to three times a week can massively hurt your workout routine. It has also been shown to negatively impact your overall physical and mental health, as reported in a study published by Science Direct[1].
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  4. 4
    Your Heart Takes a Beating
    Drinking alcohol can significantly increase your risk for unhealthy heart rhythms. This happens when your heart starts to go a little crazy, also known as a heart arrhythmia. Sadly there's no set risk level, as it varies from person to person. This risk can be compounded by existing medical conditions too. Worse, if you're not a regular drinker, the risk actually increases for you over someone who is a more heavy and regular drinker. Over time this can stop you from exercising completely due to health complications, as reported by Drink Aware[2].
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  5. 5
    It Ruins Your Performance
    You may not have considered it, but a necessary element to working out is energy. The liver produces glucose, which is what your body needs for energy when working out. If the liver is busy processing alcohol, it's not producing enough glucose. This will result in lower energy levels, and a much less productive workout. In other words, you're wasting your time working out if you've been drinking. Plus, as we've repeatedly pointed out, it's just dangerous.
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  6. 6
    Running and Alcohol Don't Mix
    You'd think this was obvious, but actually there are many runners who swear that a few drinks the evening before a big race actually helps them. Not surprisingly, as science tends to disagree with such urban legends, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) strongly disagrees, as reported by Runner's World[3]. In fact, alcohol consumption has been proven to decrease performance and negatively impact health.
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  7. 7
    Don't Hike When Drinking Alcohol
    Not surprisingly, alcohol also negatively impacts hiking. Alice, of Columbia University[4] reports that in addition to the dehydration caused by alcohol and exercise, it also causes the body's cooling systems to stop working properly. That's why you get a red face when drinking. The body is sending blood closer to the surface of the skin to cool down. Unfortunately that blood contains oxygen, which means that overall it's not getting where it needs to be to help you perform well or exercise. So the next time you plan to hike up to that lovely vista and have a bottle of wine, consider spending the night too. Hiking back down after a few drinks is not only dangerous, it's also unhealthy.
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  8. 8
    Alcohol Calories Can't Be Stored as Energy
    Even we didn't know this, but it's true. Unlike other calories from food, the ones in alcohol can't be stored in the muscles as an energy source. This means that even though you have possibly consumed quite a few calories, you won't be able to do anything with them. Compounding this issue is the fact that since alcohol is a diuretic, you'll be expelling all of the potassium, calcium, and magnesium your muscles need in order to perform. Overall, drinking alcohol and exercising is just something you should not do -- ever.
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References on Drinking Alcohol and Exercising

  1. Science Direct
  2. Drink Aware
  3. Runners World
  4. Columbia University

'See more related tutorials: Treat Alcohol Poisoning, Get Rid of Alcohol Breath, Be a Designated Driver, Sleep After Drinking, DUI Fines, Drink Responsibly, Determine If You Have Alcohol Poisoning, Drink Without Getting Drunk, Eat Before You Drink Alcohol, Get Help with a Drinking Problem, and Drink Alcohol.

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Categories : Health & Wellness

Recent edits by: Eng, Train Wreck

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