Alcohol & How it Affects Fitness

Most people like to have a drink from time to time. However, it could have a negative effect on your fitness goals. Here are a few ways that alcohol affects fitness.


For the most immediate impact it can have, alcohol is a diuretic. This means that it dehydrates your body. Proper hydration is essential for fitness, so deciding to have a drink or two before you exercise could affect your performance. Dehydration is not only a concern for the occasional bit of day drinking; the dehydration effect will carry over from the previous night of partying to the present day of working out.

Muscle Growth

A study by Hong-Brown, Frost, and Lang from Pennsylvania State College of Medicine showed that alcohol hurts muscle growth. Protein synthesis is a necessary part of muscle growth, and alcohol impairs this process significantly. The study shows a twenty percent decrease in protein synthesis at twenty four hours after intoxication. Alcohol also inhibits several different activators and receptors needed for the process.

Empty Calories

Most beers typically have around one hundred and forty to one hundred and eighty calories per can/serving. These calories provide next to no nutrients or benefits to your diet. They are the definition of "empty calories", and the calories in beer are more calories you have to account for in your macros. These extra calories can make your weight loss goals harder to achieve, and the dehydrated feeling you get from drinking will decrease motivation.

Liver & Glucose

Your liver is necessary to break down alcohol as it enters the body. However, your liver also converts glycogen into glucose. Glucose is the primary source of energy for muscle function, and your body needs it after working out during your recovery period. The liver can only do so much at once, and so it prioritizes filtering out alcohol before producing glucose. This is just another way that alcohol impairs muscle function directly, and prevents a real recovery after working out.

Sleep & HGH

Getting a good night's rest is essential for recovery after working out, as your body produces a natural form of HGH, or human growth hormone at this time. Growth Hormone is a hormone in the body that, as it says, stimulates growth and development. Alcohol may allow a person to fall asleep more quickly, but it disrupts several bodily processes during sleep, such as REM. Alcohol's effect on your sleep schedule can throw off vital processes, and make it harder to make gains.

To Drink or Not to Drink?

This is not a request for people to stop drinking; social drinking or drinking among friends has long been a natural part of human history. But those committed to fitness should know the effects such an activity can have on them, and make informed decisions based on the information at hand. Drinking in moderation and understanding the impact a drink will have on you the following day can help you better plan out your fitness schedule around days you may drink.Want a drink you can that is a positive influence on your fitness? Click here to read about the metabolic benefits of drinking water!