Want to stay fit but can’t give up booze? Wonder how alcohol affects your gains? Even though alcohol and fitness don’t mix, you can still have a drink occasionally. The key is to make smart choices and avoid calorie-laden beverages, such as liquors and cocktails. Certain drinks, such as red wine, can actually boost your health and help you shed excess water.
How Alcohol Affects Your Training
Whether you’re a casual gym goer or a pro athlete, it’s important to know how alcohol affects your performance. Most women have a weakness for cocktails and other fancy drinks that are packed with sugar. Men, one on the other hand, prefer beer and spirits. Overall, alcoholic beverages are detrimental to sports performance. However, some drinks cause less harm than others.
Alcohol boasts strong diuretic properties, so drinking too much may cause dehydration. Working out a few hours after having a drink makes dehydration worse, leading to decreased performance. It also elevates your body temperature, so you’ll sweat more and overheat. If you want to have a beer or other drink, do it after training.
Secondly, alcoholic beverages affect metabolism. Basically, they interfere with the way your body utilizes energy. Alcohol lowers blood sugar levels, which reduces your energy and stamina. This can negatively impact your workouts, leaving you tired and fatigued. As a result, you won’t be able to work out as harder as you’re planning to. Alcohol also affects mental focus, concentration, coordination, and reaction time.
Research indicates that alcohol impairs protein synthesis and makes it harder for your body to absorb B vitamins, amino acids, and minerals. Drinking just two beers per day can lower the levels of anabolic hormones, such as testosterone. Women produce testosterone too, but in small amounts than men do. Testosterone levels in women are 10 to 14 times lower than those in the make body, but they can still make a difference to your training results and sports performance.
Another problem with alcohol is its high-calorie content. Many beverages that are popular among ladies, such as margarita, pina colada, and Irish cream, are loaded with sugar and empty calories. Mixers only make things worse. If you mix alcohol with fruit juice or energy drinks, you’re basically giving yourself a sugar rush with each sip. Like it or not, alcohol can ruin your diet as well as your waistline.
Does Alcohol Have Any Benefits?
Having a drink once in a while is pretty much harmless. Just make sure you stick to one or two glasses. Studies have found that moderate wine consumption improves cardiovascular health and lowers HDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Beer has the ability to reduce C-reactive proteins, which are linked to heart disease. When consumed in small amounts, it can boost immune function and ward off infections, colds, and flu.
However, not everyone agrees with these findings. When it comes to alcohol consumption, the medical community has conflicting opinions. Some experts claim that there is no such thing as safe alcohol consumption and alcoholic drinks increase the risk of cancer, diabetes, and neurological disorders. Others recommend an occasional drink as a way to relax and keep your heart healthy. Many athletes and fitness models actually drink small amounts of red wine before competitions to eliminate excess water and increase vascularization. One thing is for sure: if drinking is good for you, ditching the alcohol is even better.
Which Alcoholic Drinks Are “Healthiest”?
As a female lifter, you want to stay lean and make the most out of your workouts. Alcohol can lead to weight gain and affect your strength, performance, and recovery time. However, not all alcoholic drinks are created equal. Some are “healthier” than others and cause minimum damage.
In general, spirits are the lowest in calories. Vodka, gin, whiskey, rum, and tequila have fewer than 100 calories per serving. However, their alcohol volume is quite high (up to 40 percent). If you want to stay slim, hard alcohol is your best bet. You can also enjoy a glass of red wine, which boasts about 120 calories and 14 percent alcohol per serving. White wine has 12.5 percent alcohol and 110 calories per serving. A glass of champagne won’t ruin your diet as it has just 88 calories and five grams of carbs.
If you love beer, go for light varieties. Amstel Light, Coors Lights, and Bud Light contain five or six grams of carbs and 70 calories per serving. Regular beer has 130 to 170 calories. Cider and malt beverages boast up to 40 grams of carbs and 350 calories in one serving. Mixers such as tonic water, coke, and cranberry juice, are quite low in calories, but high in sugar. You really don’t need those extra carbs! Cocktail aficionados can have a Hot Toddy, Tom Collins, Mint Julep, or a Mojito, which are lower in sugar and calories compared to other beverages.