Month: April 2018

How Your Favorite Beer is Sabotaging Your Gym Gains

Month: April 2018

If you’ve ever enjoyed a night of heavy drinking after a long week, chances are you’ve noticed diminished results in the gym the next week. What you may not realize is that a single night of heavy drinking can undermine weeks of effort.

How alcohol affects your body

You already know that alcohol impairs your judgment, cognitive functions, and motor skills. The more you drink, the more alcohol impacts your health. The immediate impact of alcohol is most apparent when you consume a large amount of alcohol in one sitting. However, consuming small amounts of alcohol regularly also takes its toll on your body.

Cardiovascular performance drops

Your cardiovascular system is the engine that propels your body. One of the tricks of getting fit and building muscle is learning how to take advantage of your heart rate to maximize its effectiveness.

But if you drink regularly, your cardiovascular system struggles as a result. Drinking alcohol can raise your blood pressure, throw your heartbeat out of rhythm, and make it harder for blood to pump through your body (Healthline). All of these things tax your body, forcing you to work harder for diminished results.

Recovery is slower

The repercussions of drinking aren’t limited to your heart rate, either. Exercise builds and shapes your body by stretching and tearing your muscles. When you exercising, you are literally tearing down your body and rebuilding it. But again, alcohol interferes with this process.

When you eat something, your body has to digest the food before it can begin metabolizing it. But when you consume alcohol, your body immediately starts to metabolize it (Shape).

What does this mean for your workout? When you’ve engaged in strenuous exercise, your body sets to work repairing the damage cost and rebuilding the tears in your tissue. But when you drink, your body can’t focus on rebuilding your muscles because it’s busy trying to metabolize your drink. This slows down your recovery process tremendously. If you drink enough, you can negate your entire exercise.

Say hello to gains…fat gain, that is

The other thing you need to know is that, like sugar, alcohol tends to metabolize into fat. A single beer can have anywhere from 60-300 calories (The Efficient Drinker), and most of that ends up metabolizing into fat. It’s called a “beer gut” for a reason, after all. So although you’re busy burning calories in the gym, you’re also taking in empty ones at the bar, undermining all the work you just did.

The solution?

Don’t despair — working out in the gym doesn’t mean you have to forgo alcohol entirely. A single beer or glass or wine once or twice a week will have a minimal effect on your body, especially if you don’t drink on days you exercise.

But if you’re up to multiple beers a night, the story is a little different. Alcohol is known to be one of the most difficult and dangerous substances to detox from (Daylight Detox), so you’ll need to decrease your intake gradually. But if you want to make real progress in the gym, the effort is worth it.