So just what does drinking alcohol really do to our training performance and more importantly, our behaviour and choices?
Unsurprisingly, research shows alcohol can have a detrimental effect on performance. 800
and 1500 metre sprint performance, power, strength and performance of high-intensity
exercise have all been reduced as a result of low to moderate intake of alcohol.
Since each gram of alcohol contains 7 calories (carbohydrates and protein 9 and 4
calories per gram respectively) it may not be too much of a shock that drinking in excess of
your daily 2-4 units per day may scupper your fat loss campaign. A study by The New
England Journal of Medicine discovered that ethanol (alcohol in it’s purest form)
decreased 24-hour energy expenditure and decreases lipid oxidation (use of fats as a
fuel). In a nutshell, habitual consumption of alcohol in excess of energy needs probably
favors fat storage and weight gain.
It’s not just the actual consumption of alcohol that can be detrimental. With your blood
sugars crashing down as quickly as you were downing shots last night, your body
demands sugar in the morning. Consequently you are much more likely to make poor food
choices the following day. Alcohol also increases your appetite. So, if you’re the type of
person to put 5 sugars in your coffee, polish off a full English breakfast before you skip your
scheduled gym session, then think about whether the short-term fun is really worth it!
By Daryl Browne MSc