Many of us enjoy the odd tipple every now and again, whether it’s a quick pint after work on a Friday to celebrate the weekend or a special occasion such as Christmas or a birthday.
However, most of people don’t realise the effects alcohol has on your body or the effects that it has on your workout routine.
Alcohol-related deaths in the UK may slowly be rising but in 2014 there were over eight-and-a-half thousand deaths relating to alcohol through problems such as liver disease, alcohol hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Of those 8,697 deaths in 2014, 65% were in males. Liver disease and cirrhosis are serious results of alcohol but the UK’s most popular drug can also have less serious effects that affect your daily routine.
Over time, alcohol can affect areas such as the brain, heart and immune system in daily life. Alcohol can interfere with your brain’s communication pathways which can lead to increased mood swings and make it harder to think clearly.
One of the most common areas alcohol can damage is your liver. This is in two ways. As the liver breaks down the alcohol the chemical reactions involved in doing so can affect the cells in the liver leading to inflammation and scarring as it tries to repair itself. Alternatively, alcohol can damage the intestine and let toxins from the stomach into the liver which also leads to inflammation and scarring.
When it comes to the pancreas, alcohol causes a production of toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents successful digestion. Alcohol can also weaken the immune system which will make the body more liable to diseases, even small problems like a cold or cough.
But when it comes to exercise, exercising with alcohol in your body is not the wisest idea as alcohol is a diuretic. This means alcohol dehydrates your body and will be detrimental to your performance as you need to be hydrated whilst exercising to ensure the flow of blood around the body so that your muscles can receive the oxygen they need to exercise.
With alcohol in the body you will also produce less glucose leading to low bloody sugar. Good blood sugar levels are essential during exercise to make sure you have enough energy to exercise and perform to the standard you want.
Over a longer term period, alcohol will cause unusual heart rhythms, especially for irregular drinkers. The risk of unusual heart rhythms increases if you are exercising and can still affect you up to two days after you’ve had a drink.
Alcohol can also affect recovery from sports injuries. Boozing will slow down your recovery process after injury meaning you cannot exercise for longer and therefore prolonging your period of regression after weeks or even months of training.
Remember, alcohol contains sugar meaning that it is high in calories. A pint of Fosters contains 227 calories, whereas a pint of Strongbow contains 239 calories. A 100 gram glass of wine can have 83 calories in it, whilst a shot of vodka alone has 97, that’s before you mix it with something such as coke, red bull or lemonade. As alcohol is not a nutrient it can only be stored as fat, your body will prioritise breaking down the alcohol over fat and carbs, meaning if you want to lose weight, it will be much harder if you are a regular drinker.
Finally, alcohol also affects sleep. Studies have revealed those who drink more often have reduced sleep and increased wakefulness. A disrupted sleep cycle can reduce the output of the muscle-building human growth hormone by as much as 70%.