How Does Alcohol Affect My Fitness?

Did you know that alcohol can have a negative impact on your performance and recovery as an athlete? Here in the United States, alcohol is a cultural element of many social gatherings, especially sports events, often making it difficult to avoid. In fact, according to research studies, around 80% of student athletes drink alcohol. Although drinking in moderation isn't a bad thing, drinking in excess may sabotage your fitness goals.

Let's take a look at how alcohol can affect your fitness and performance.

Drinking Before Your Workout

Alcohol's effect on your athletic performance is based on a number of factors, including the amount you drink, the type of sport you play, and your body's composition.

If you don't stay within the healthy limit, your blood alcohol level starts to rise. Gradually, this leads to the depression of your nervous system. As a result, you'll experience changes in your balance, judgment, reaction time, coordination, and motor skills. These bodily shifts negatively impact your athletic performance and may increase your risk of injury.

Effects of Alcohol

Many athletes like to enjoy a drink after a workout or game. To recover after physical activity, your body needs many things, like the replenishment of glycogen, the restoration of fluid levels, and the synthesizing of muscle proteins. When you have a few drinks after a game or workout, you'll feel the need to urinate over and over again, which slows down the body's hydration process.

Some athletes drink beer after a game believing that the electrolytes and carbohydrates in beer will boost their recovery process. The truth is that the number of carbs and electrolytes found in beer aren't enough for proper recovery. Plus, if you drink beer after a game or workout, you will be depriving yourself of the protein-rich foods that your body needs to adequately recover. With insufficient protein intake, your body won't stimulate the process of protein synthesis, which can in turn hinder muscle repair and growth (Academic). 

Does Alcohol Affect Your Recovery?

According to Barnes' research, alcohol consumption may increase the loss of force linked to muscle damage induced by exercise. This may slow down the rate of recovery, but only when the level of damage is quite serious.

In other words, having a lot of alcohol may negatively impact your post-workout inflammatory response and protein synthesis. Especially in combination, this may slow down recovery and impede your progress.

What is a Safe Amount of Alcohol?

Binge drinking isn't good for anyone, let alone athletes. The amount that you drink can impact your hydration, recovery, and performance, according to Barnes. In the United States, a standard drink is 1.5 ounces for liquor, 5 ounces for wine, and 12 ounces for beer (CDC).

So, what is a safe amount to drink for athletes? The CDC defines moderate drinking as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men (in a single occasion). This means that having two or three drinks in celebration after a game is just fine, so long as it doesn't become a regular habit. 


Staying within the recommended limit for safe drinking is a great choice for athletes. Excessive drinking may affect your recovery, performance, and ability to stay fit. No athlete wants to jeopardize all of their hard work, and binge drinking may do just that. 


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