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Does Alcohol Affect Performance In The Gym?

Does Alcohol Affect Performance In The Gym?

We all enjoy an occasional drink or two at weekends, but how much does that extra drink effect your progress in the gym? Laura Ciotte, a Personal Trainer from Worthing sheds the light.

Before you say yes to an extra pint on a Friday night, did you know that alochol contains 7 calories a gram? That’s almost as many as pure fat! As alcohol is is made from sugar and starch, we refer to the calories from alochol as ’empty calories’ as they have no nutritional value. If that wasn’t shocking enough drinking alcohol also reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. Unlike protein, our bodies can’t store alcohol, meaning our system wants to get rid of it quickly, therefore other processes such as burning fat, absorbing nutrients are interrupted.

If the above doesn’t make you think twice about your alcohol consumption, alcohol has also been found to affect recovery post resistance training. If you’re only drink the occasional time you can relax, with regards to quantity there are some studies that have found no significant impact on recovery when only drinking a moderate amount. Just to clarify, the studies counted moderate as two drinks for men and one for women a week. This leads to the conclusion that the negative effects of alcohol (at least on performance in the gym) are pretty similar to that of consuming junk food- it’s essentially ‘empty’ calories which have no real nutrients and therefore little benefit to the body.

So.. what should you do?

Limit alcohol consumption to moderate amounts and if following my usual 80/20 rule- include it in the 20% of your calories that come from ‘bad’ foods. The easiest way to do this is to pick drinks wisely so you’re not causing yourself to go over your calories just by going to the pub.

Here are some more calorie friendly options:

Swap a pint of beer (300 calories) for a vodka and diet lemonade (64 calories), a vodka lime and soda.

Swap a pint of guinness (210) for a gin and diet tonic (73 calories).

Now if you like cocktails you can:
Swap a long island iced tea (780 calories) for a martini (176 calories), or swap a pina colada (644 calories) for a mojito (168 calories).

Something else you need to watch out for when drinking that can seriously affect your athletic performance is dehydration!

Written by TPW Writer and Personal Trainer Laura Ciotte.

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