You probably know that alcohol is not so good for your sports and nutritional goals. You gain weight and exercising with a hangover doesn’t work very well. However, there are more ways how (too much) alcohol can get in the way of your goals. In this article, I explain in which ways alcohol can have an effect on your nutrition and sports goals.
The content of this article is based on scientific publications and was written in collaboration with medical specialists/nutritionists.
Influence of alcohol on muscle building
Alcohol contains metabolites that have a direct inhibitory effect on muscle building. Metabolites are metabolic products.
Alcohol also has an indirect inhibitory effect. Alcohol has an inhibitory effect on the attachment of testosterone to muscle protein.
This attachment promotes muscle protein synthesis, which leads to muscle building. This muscle building is prevented by alcohol.
In addition, more cortisol is produced by the intake of alcohol. This stress hormone has an adverse effect on muscle building. Stress can also have a negative effect on your motivation to exercise.
Long term alcohol use
In the long run, regular alcohol consumption can cause your hormonal balance to become unbalanced. As a result, the build-up of muscle tissue and strength increase can no longer proceed optimally. There is a good chance that no muscle building will take place at all.
Influence of alcohol on muscle recovery
For muscle building, it is important to recover sufficiently after a muscle effort. Alcohol can make the recovery process less successful. In the last part of this article, I will discuss some aspects related to this in more detail.
The moisture balance
After exercise, the lost fluid must be replenished. Sufficient fluids must be present to exchange nutrients between muscle cells and blood. This allows muscle growth to take place.
Drinking alcohol causes fluid loss. This ensures that the aforementioned processes run less smoothly.
Alcohol inhibits the production of ADH (antidiuretic hormone). This causes a shortage of important minerals. With a lot of fluid loss, muscle breakdown can also take place.
A day of rest from sports after a night of drinking is not even enough. This is because you start the day with a fluid loss. If you do exercise, the performance is considerably less due to the loss of moisture.
During physical exertion, lactic acid is formed in the muscles. This must be broken down in the body. This process can cause muscle soreness.
If you drink alcohol after physical exertion, the breakdown of lactic acid is hindered. Your liver prefers to break down alcohol. It can take 1 to 1.5 hours per glass of alcohol before all alcohol is broken down.
The blood cells
Alcohol can destroy muscle cells because alcohol can damage the red blood cells. In the long term, this can lead to reduced muscle function. This is because the affected muscle cells will die.
Relationship between alcohol and energy intake
The relationship between your alcohol intake and energy intake should also not be forgotten. After all, many alcoholic drinks contain calories that disrupt your energy intake. Read on to find out exactly how!
Energy in alcohol
1 gram of alcohol contains 7 kcal. A glass of beer can vary between 113 and 150 kcal. That is comparable to more than 1 slice of bread. A cocktail can even contain 400 kcal.
If you eat normally and drink alcohol, then you have a good chance that your energy intake is higher than your energy needs. This can lead to obesity in the long run.
You can compensate for this with your diet, but if you do this regularly, it is not healthy. You then miss important nutrients from the foods that you then skip. Alcoholic drinks do not contain any essential nutrients.
Eating more because of alcohol
Another factor that can result in overweight is the fact that alcohol can lead to an increased appetite for (unhealthy) foods. This mainly happens during drinking, but also the day after drinking.
1. While drinking
While drinking alcohol, you may feel more inclined to eat (unhealthy) meals and snacks. Because of alcohol use, you become more impulsive and it can increase your appetite.
Boundaries are also blurred by the effect of alcohol. This can lead to you ignoring your nutritional goals and therefore eating more. This can also have a negative influence on your sports goals.
In addition, snacks are often served during an evening of drinking alcohol, such as nuts and fried snacks. Before you know it, you’ve already eaten a few handfuls of nuts.
2. The day after drinking
If you drink a lot, you will most likely wake up the next day with a hangover. This feeling can make you reach for unhealthy meals and snacks more quickly.
If you’ve slept in for a long time, skipping meals can also lead to more food. Skipping meals can cause you to overeat.
This is because you have become very hungry in the meantime and eat faster than usual. Because of the fast-food, you do not notice that you are already full. It can take about 20 minutes before you feel full.
Of course, you can drink a beer or wine every now and then. It is especially important to consider how often you want to do this and how you limit it. This way you can enjoy yourself and still achieve your sports and nutritional goals.