Will Alcohol Ruin Your Progress?
It’s common for me to be asked about alcohol and training. Typically, people are looking for me to say that you can do both. In reality, that’s not the total truth. The situation depends on the context around what you’re doing.
Obviously, it’s known that alcohol isn’t the best thing for your body. The body has a tough time breaking it down and it can dampen many natural processes that take place. That being said, alcohol doesn’t have to be avoided completely. You can still enjoy yourself and get results. Let’s break it down a little further.
How Alcohol Affects Your Body
First off, we have to discuss one of the main reasons that alcohol can stagnate progress; calories. Alcohol has about 7kcal/g when consumed. This can quickly add up if you are having a night of beers or cocktails. A six pack of even light beer can come out to around an extra 500 calories consumed.
Both men and women also need testosterone within a certain balance. It’s the hormone that is responsible for many things, but especially muscle growth and fat loss. When there is a misalignment in testosterone, issues can arise when it comes to metabolism and making progress towards your goals. Alcohol has a direct impact on your levels of this hormone. Consistently consuming alcohol can lead to a huge reduction in your testosterone.
Alcohol also has an impact on one of the most important processes for your health, sleep. Sleep is usually of poor quality after a night of drinking. It can lower the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep that you are getting. This is, in fact, the most important type of sleep for your health, recovery, and weight loss. This explains why you may feel as if you didn’t rest at all day after drinking. You are also messing with important hormones while disrupting your sleep. When we have a lack of sleep, the hormone ghrelin will be elevated. This is the hormone that makes us hungry! Ever felt like you couldn’t stop eating after a long night? This is why. An increase in ghrelin is directly correlated with a higher number of calories consumed.
There is also a reduction in the ability of the immune system to fight off invaders after drinking. The body is so focused on processing the alcohol through the liver and pancreas, that it cannot focus its attention in the right place. This in turn can lead to you catching a cold or getting sick in some form or fashion. While you can recover from this, that’s valuable time not spent training. All in all, it could set you back.
Lastly, there’s a huge impact on your brain. The thing that holds it all together. Alcohol dampens your ability to focus and can even create a sense of “brain fog”. We also dampen our judgment, which may lead to less ideal choices when it comes to food and exercise. All in all, we just don’t operate at our best when consuming large amounts of alcohol.
Drinking Moderation and Making Better Choices
Now, we’ve discussed what alcohol can do to your body, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever have it. There’s a balance to what you can and can’t do if you are looking to keep progress moving.
Moderation is key. Yes, you’ve probably heard that a million times but it’s true. When drinking in moderation, the body can handle it. It has time to break things down, and it lowers the impact that it can have on you. There’s definitely a difference in having one or two drinks as opposed to getting belligerent. This is where you want to hang out.
The best time to do this would be the weekend. It will only set you back if you are breaking it out during the week, especially if that’s when you are doing your training. Save it for the weekend as a treat. Make it something special and keep it in moderation.
Also, ensure that you are just making better choices. If it’s a birthday weekend, and you really want to celebrate, then make sure you are choosing a wiser option. Instead of a heavy drink like a dark beer, go for something like a seltzer or light beer. If hard liquor is your drink of choice, make sure that you aren’t using any calorie rich mixers. You can’t go wrong with some clear liquor, soda water, lime, and ice.
I can’t recommend that you actually consume alcohol, because that won’t give you the BEST results. However, if you are disciplined and stay within reason, you can still see some awesome changes.
Alcohol isn’t the greatest thing you can put in your body. However, it’s a part of some great conversations, culture, and sometimes letting loose. It’s going to come about at some point. Obviously, if you want to maximize your results, then you’ll want to avoid it all together. However, there are ways to approach it that can lessen the negative impact it can have on your body. Be mindful and use moderation if you want to keep driving progress.