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Is alcohol your fitness frenemy?

by Verusha Singh on Saturday 15 July 2017



You might feel like drinking helps you channel your inner spirit animal after a long week at work, but does hitting the gym give you permission to hit the bottle?  

Truth be told, it could be clawing apart those hard earned fitness goals.

Some studies say that alcohol improves your health and others state that it can have serious repercussions on your body.  

If we consider ourselves to be reasonably healthy individuals by eating right and exercising regularly, alcohol can be easy to justify. When you enjoy having a glass of wine before a meal or late night drinks after work, it can all start to add up.  

Can being a regular gym junkie negate the effects of drinking too much? Or does it still affect your fitness goals?

Here are a few things you might want to consider. 

The Calorie Load

It’s a harsh truth. Many alcoholic beverages are high in sugar, which means they contain a lot of calories, especially if you are mixing it with juices or energy drinks. Even a few glasses of wine can give you a sugar overload. So if you are intent on building that summer body, you may want to rethink your alcohol intake.

Workouts Are Harder

If you are in the middle of your gym routine and you feel like you’re lacking your usual strength and feline grace, it’s probably because alcohol is slowing you down. Your liver will be working harder to get rid of the toxic by-products of alcohol that it won’t be able to clear out the lactic acid you produce when you exercise. 

Reduced Muscle Growth

Alcohol impairs the process of protein synthesis, which can interfere with your ability to grow and maintain muscle. It can also drop testosterone levels while increasing cortisol, a hormone that destroys muscle. So if you love doing weights at the gym, you might not see results as fast as you would like.  

Slow Recovery

If you are consistently finding it difficult to recover from your work outs, it could be a result from your binge nights. Too much alcohol can interfere with how your body absorbs nutrients like D vitamins (associated with strengthening the bones), vitamin A (a powerful antioxidant that helps the body recover from exercise), and vitamin C (which assists with wound healing and cell maintenance). 


The good news is that there’s plenty you can do to get your mind and body back on track – and getting back in balance is easier than you think! 

Consider an alcohol breakup.

Don’t freak out, you can still be friends, but health experts believe a month off drinking can: 

Improve your shut eye. Drinking before bedtime can disturb normal sleep patterns and leave you waking up feeling exhausted.  
Clear your skin. Alcohol is a diuretic which dehydrates the body and can dry out the skin. 

Lose Weight. Did you know one glass of wine or pint of lager has the same calories as a doughnut? Cutting down on alcohol will reduce your calorie intake and help you lose weight. 

If that still doesn’t convince you, taking a break from booze can also:

•      reduce blood sugar levels
•      lower blood pressure
•      improve concentration
•      help the liver recover

For some people it could be unrealistic to cut out alcohol from your life altogether, but a reset might do your body some good. Consider going dry for a month and feel the difference.

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