Effects of alcohol on sports performance
The consumption of alcohol, as we already know, is not an activity that benefits our health. However, it is very popular even among athletes or sports lovers, so the questions we want to ask ourselves today are: how can it affect us when it comes to sports performance? And why?
Let's start by talking about hydration. Many of us know that it has a diuretic effect (and you can easily see this by counting the times you go to the bathroom when you go out for drinks), so it provides the perfect conditions for dehydration. This surely is not a surprise to you, because the hangover the next day is evidence enough... What you may not know is that just that hangover can greatly affect athletes. In one study it was found that athletes had an aerobic performance up to 11.4% worse than those who had not drunk the night before.
Additionally, alcohol consumption can have an effect on our metabolism, for example lowering available levels of muscle glycogen and thus causing inefficient use of carbohydrates as fuel for our muscles. There is also inhibition of gluconeogenesis, a metabolic pathway necessary for the production of aerobic energy.
On the other hand, the psychological effects that it causes can play an important role, since alcohol consumption can cause us a depressed mood, headaches and hypersensitivity. This obviously affects the way athletes can perform and their concentration and affects functions such as balance, reaction time, visual search, memory, recognition and fine motor skills.
It also affects our rest, disturbing its quality through a decrease in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
But what happens next? Since we put in the effort and managed to train, what about recovery? Well, recovery requires protein synthesis to be able to repair our muscle fibers, thus achieving hypertrophy, essential for muscle growth. When we consume alcohol, it can affect this protein synthesis, so despite training, our muscles will not see the benefits. It has even been suggested that its consumption could have an important impact on sports-related injuries, since there seems to be a 54.8% incidence of injuries in people who drink alcohol as opposed to 23.5% in those who do not drink.
Now that you have seen all the consequences that it can bring, you may want to rethink its consumption the next time you go out with friends, especially if you have specific goals, because avoiding its consumption will reach you in much less time. Trust us, you won't miss a hangover.
O'Brien, C., & Lyons, F. (2000). Alcohol and the athlete. Sports medicine, 29(5), 295-300.
Vella, L., & Cameron-Smith, D. (2010). Alcohol, athletic performance and recovery. Nutrients, 2(8), 781-789.
What is Epigenetics and what is it for?
What is behind this modern study?
Vitamins for Immune System strengthening
Keep yourself healthy with the help of these vitamins!
Athletics & Epigenetics
Are athletes born with their talent?