Alcohol has been shown to make up to 5% of an athlete’s calorie intake, and consumption in any volume can interfere with performance, recovery, muscle building, vitamin function, and hydration. As an athlete, your goal is to improve performance. Here are some important factors that are affected when alcohol is involved:
Alcohol can dehydrate your body; altering your body’s ability to regulate its temperature. A small change in body temperature will affect your reaction time, motor skills, balance, and even your memory during performance.
Alcohol can cause muscle cramps, pain, and hypoglycemia. Having sufficient glucose allows your muscles to heal and stimulate growth after a workout. Recuperation time is vital in making sure your body is able to rejuvenate itself post-workout.
Growth hormone (GH)
Plays a huge role in recovery. This is an important hormone that stimulates cell and bone growth and development. GH is secreted within the first few hours during sleep, but if you’re not sleeping well or getting enough sleep, this process is disrupted. Alcohol often disrupts sleep cycles, thus affecting growth hormone and therefore, cell development and overall performance.
Calcium (Ca) and vitamin A
Alcohol inhibits absorption of these vitamins. Ca is stored in your bones, teeth, and in your bloodstream. A lack in either vitamin D or Ca can lead to Osteoporosis, Liver disease, and increased risk of fractures. Your bones need to be strong and healthy in order to perform. If you have brittle bones, you’re at risk of fractures and possibly ending your career as an athlete.
There are 7 kilocalories (kcals) per gram in alcohol. Anywhere from 7-14 drinks per week can tack on an easy 600-1800 extra calories which can lead to a long-term weight gain. Here’s a table to show the calorie intake of different drinks.
12oz Beer 135-145
12oz Light Beer 100
3.5oz Red/White Wine 70-75
6oz Martini 143
0.5oz Hard Liquor 98
10oz Margarita 550
Pina Colada 490-520
Long Island Iced Tea 530
Rum and Coke 160
Vodka and Cranberry Juice 170-175
When it comes down to it, alcohol doesn’t have any nutritional benefit regarding performance. If you want to feel your best and perform your best, staying away from alcohol is encouraged. Being an athlete means you need to treat your body like the temple that it is. So next time you’re out with friends or encouraged to have a drink before a game, think twice.
Thank you to these journal articles for providing me the information I needed for this blog entry: