We all like to cut loose and have a few drinks now and then, and maybe you even use alcohol as a little reward for a hard workout. After all, you put in the miles during the day, why not unwind with a few drinks in the evening? Depending on your definition of “a few,” however, your imbibing could be a little dent – or a major blow – to your fitness routine. Let’s take a look at what alcohol does to your fitness, and when you may want to lay off the sauce.
- Alcohol And Sleep
When people drink too much they tend to get sleepy. So alcohol must be good for sleep, right? Well, not so much. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a few too many drinks, you probably didn’t wake up in the morning feeling too well rested. Alcohol can actually prevent REM sleep, which is the kind of sleep your body needs to feel rested. And that lack of sleep will end up costing you in the gym, impairing your ability to build muscle and recover.
Alcohol is empty calories. You really aren’t getting any nutritional value when you throw back a few drinks after dinner. And that means you’re putting a ton of extra calories into your body without any kind of benefit for your workout. Many of your favorite drinks are packed with sugar to make them taste better, and just a couple could put you way over your limit for the day. Plus there’s the issue of those late-night pizzas or burritos. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, and makes it a whole lot easier to give into your cravings after you leave the bar.
Drinking after a workout is a bad idea, simply because alcohol doesn’t contain anything you need to recover, but also because alcohol acts as a diuretic, forcing you to pee more often and dehydrating your body. You probably already need to rehydrate after a workout, so grabbing a couple beers to celebrate your new mile time is a bad idea.
Also, drinking the night before working out isn’t a great idea either, for pretty much the same reason. You’re going to wake up dehydrated and possibly with a hangover. Your performance is definitely going to be affected, and you just won’t get the most out of your workout routine.
- Moderation Is Key
We know this all sounds pretty rough, but you actually can still drink alcohol and maintain a fitness regimen. It’s all about moderation. Drinking in moderation will lessen all of the effects listed above, and it can also raise good cholesterol and lower stress.
If you’re like most of us, you don’t want to give up your beer or wine completely, but you still want to see results at the gym. The easiest way to do this is by drinking in moderation and getting the proper nutrition for recovery. Check out our protein bars for a good way to get your body what it needs after a tough workout!