Is Alcohol Killing Your Progress?

Your lifestyle plays a big part in your health and fitness goals. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to alcohol consumption. Socially, for many of us, alcohol is part of our life. It’s not a crime to enjoy your favorite cocktail but as far as your body is concerned, it could do without. Most people are familiar with the short-term effects of alcohol consumption but it does go deeper than that. The long-term effects are also no secret, particularly at high rates of usage.

Drinking alcohol will certainly affect our performance and body composition goals. You might feel good temporarily but the alcohol will stay with you after the effects wear off. Even in small quantities it negatively impacts our sleep and can leave us feeling less rested.

Additionally, the body will prioritize the metabolism and removal of alcohol from our system instead of focusing on other important functions like protein synthesis and absorption of other important nutrients. Our bodies increase protein synthesis rates for 24-36+ hours after we exercise. This is intended to help us recover. If you exercise on Thursday or Friday and spend the weekend consuming alcohol, you have likely suppressed your recovery from a workout you thought was already behind you. Not good.

Considering alcohol’s negative impact on our nutrient absorption and sleep quality we can make the assumption that it isn’t helping our performance, recovery and adaptation. Additionally, drinking alcohol puts us at a higher risk for dehydration. The more you drink, the harder it will be to combat with water. Our muscles love water and function much better when they have it. This will negatively impact performance in addition to brain function, mood and energy levels.

Alcohol can also impact our weight and body composition. It offers zero nutritional value. It is full of calories and our bodies can’t even use them. In fact, alcohol has nearly double the calorie content per gram than carbohydrates. At 7 calories/gram it’s close to fat at 9 calories/gram. Fats can get a bad rap, at least they offer us nutritional value. Now, this only takes into account the alcohol. Add in any mixers and additional sugars like in wine, and you can see how even a few drinks each week over time may push you away from your goals. Many times, it’s what is hindering an individual’s success by masking their other efforts towards meeting their goals in and out of the gym.

Separately, drinking alcohol doesn’t typically help with food choices. We can agree that most times when alcohol is present, poor food choices are available. This isn’t always the case but there certainly is an association between alcohol consumption, food choices and portion sizes. Yes, this does vary from person to person and I’m not saying that nobody should be drinking. That is not my claim to make. You make your own choices and they are yours to make. However, your progress and your ability to achieve your goals may take a hit. Just because you can’t always see it or feel it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. By all means, be social and enjoy time with your loved ones. I am simply an advocate for a healthier you. 

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First Capital Gym is York’s only gym that specializes in fitness over 40. We provide personal training and small group personal training programs. We are conveniently located in East York on Industrial Highway.

Michael Allen

Author Bio

Michael has been working with clients in the gym and countless adults in a physical therapy setting since 2013. He spent 3 semesters working at Towson University with student-athletes from nearly every sport at the school. He served as the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for Kennard-Dale High School during the 2019-2020 school year. His goal is to always get better and give you the safest and most effective use of your time at First Capital Gym.