Athletic Performance & Recovery
Alcohol has a number of effects on the body that can impair performance and delay recovery by:
- Impairing muscle growth in the short-term – decreasing gains you’ve worked for in the weight room and on the field
- Disrupting your sleep cycle, which impairs how you learn and retain/recall information (slowed reaction time on the field several days after consumption)
- Decreasing blood testosterone levels for up to 24 hours after consumption which decreases aggression, lean muscle mass, recovery and overall athletic performance
- Causing nausea, vomiting and drowsiness for several days after consumption
- Alcohol interrupts your sleep cycle, which decreases your body’s production of HGH (human growth hormone). HGH promotes muscle mass while decreasing fat mass, is critical for recovery (by stimulating protein synthesis) and is important for immune system functioning.
- Alcohol suppresses testosterone production.
- Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and metabolized first, before food so extra calories from food are stored as body fat. Because your liver is busy processing alcohol, fat metabolism is delayed.
- Alcohol also inhibits your body’s absorption of vitamins B1, B12, folic acid and zinc.
Alcohol is a diuretic that leads to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. And, dehydration can increase one’s risk of muscle cramps and other muscle injuries.
For all of the younger athletes reading this who feel peer pressure about drinking, think about this, the effects of 3 drinks will last a few days. Drink on Thursday and your reaction time on Saturday will still be impaired (and it may be impaired on Sunday too). Need an out? You just got one. Need another out? Use my all time favorite response when someone asks if you want a drink, “That’s a Clown Question, Bro.”
- J Clin Endocrin & Metab 1980;51:759-764.
- Firth G. Manzo LG. For the Athlete: Alcohol and Athletic Performance. University of Notre Dame; 2004.
- J Am Acad Dermatol 43(1 Pt 1):1-16.