Alcohol is one of mankind’s most cherished social lubricants. After the Sumerians first brewed beer there was no turning back. For almost as far back as recorded history, alcohol has been the balm after (or during) a hard day’s work. It’s not surprising that many are concerned about giving up alcohol when starting a fitness program.
The good news is, moderate amounts of certain types of booze – namely beer and wine – have been shown to have beneficial effects. Drinking beer can improve cardiovascular health and wine has antioxidant properties. So drinking and fitness can coexist? Well…yes and no.
It really all depends on the current condition of the person drinking. If you’re genetically predisposed to liver failure or alcoholism, it might be best to stay away. But if you have no risk factor for these, it’s not that simple either.
There’s a lot of studies and interesting science behind the effects of alcohol on the human body and a lot of weird things have come up.
- Regular drinkers as a whole, weigh less than non-drinkers. There’s a slight, but definite correlation between how much you drink and how much you weigh. But weighing less does not equal fitness. In fact, that weight loss might be attributed to alcohol screwing up your hormonal balance – which you probably don’t want in an uncontrolled scenario.
- Moderate drinkers live longer than non-drinkers. This is a definite plus.
- Alcohol is almost a wonder drug. Its consumption has been linked with preventing Alzheimer’s disease, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and even the common cold. Some types of cancers are also less prevalent in moderate drinkers. Depression symptoms are also relieved by moderate consumption. The problem is, not everyone reacts the same way to it – which is why you won’t have doctors prescribing you Jack Daniels or Heineken any time soon.
- Alcohol makes you drowsier – but it’s poor quality sleep. This might mean you’ll find it harder to push yourself to your limits. This might mean you can ruin your workout schedule, or miss opportunities to improve. Also, there’s not much point to being fit if you always find yourself out of energy.
- Alcohol can have an effect on your body’s ability to use protein. This can mean that if you’re trying to bulk up, your exercising will only make you leaner or make it harder for you to increase mass.
- Alcohol doesn’t work the same way for everyone. This is perhaps the most frustrating part about it. Sometimes it makes you chatty, other times it makes you morose – something most of us are familiar with. But its effects can be volatile depending on an extremely wide range of factors, not limited to genetics, mental states, built-up tolerance – and even social settings!
- Alcohol can help your body lose weight – but also prime it to overeat! Alcohol’s metabolic effects have a slight effect on your body’s ability to break down carbs. However, its disinhibition effects make it very easy to overeat.
There’s obviously a lot more than just these seven effects. You could right a few books on just the the weird effects alcohol has on your body.
The answer to how good alcohol is for you won’t be cut and dried in the near future. But as a general rule of thumb, moderate drinking should do you some good. If anything, it will make it easier to bond with friends after a workout.
Health and Fitness Editorial by FitFarms UK. We are a UK Weight Loss Holiday Retreat with a Holistic Approach and without the Fitness Boot Camp regime.