The effect of alcohol on your fitness success — Ask Dr. Kirsten!

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Bars and restaurants have reopened and summer’s still here. When the sun comes out, it’s great to have drinks on a cozy terrace. But since most of you also love to workout, this raises the question how these two things can be combined. Drinking could prevent you from gaining those sought after rewards from the workout you sought in! Want to know why? Here’s what happens with your body during happy hour.

The effect of alcohol on the body


As most of you have experienced the morning after a fun night out, alcohol dehydrates the body. Alcohol is a diuretic, that means that your kidneys produce more urine. The usual: “a pee after every beer phenomenon”. Therefore, alcohol dehydrates your body. A workout after drinking alcohol can make this dehydration even worse since you start to sweat during the exercise.

Due to dehydration, your exercise performance can be impaired. So you need to be hydrated during exercise for good blood circulation and your oxygen molecules and nutrients can be transported to your muscles, thus optimizing your performance! In addition, alcohol is broken down in the liver, which normally also functions as a glucose producer. If the liver is involved in the process of breaking down alcohol, you will be less able to generate energy and get tired sooner. Finally, alcohol can cause a delayed conduction in the nerves, which is the relaxed feeling you feel during consumption. This effect needs some time to wear off, which means that your balance, reactivity and coordination are temporarily not as good as normal.


Alcohol and BMI


Researchers have shown that “moderate drinking”, which is a maximum of 2 drinks a day, is not associated with a significant increase in weight or BMI. They also compared different type of drinks versus weight/BMI gain. This showed that people who drink wine are less likely to gain weight when compared to people who drink cocktails or mixed drinks. Not a complete surprise given the fact that the latter category contains a higher percentage of sugars and calories.


But the fun, does that count too?


Alcohol the night before a heavy workout: is the devil’s choice between moderation or experiencing the consequences. However, meeting up with friends at night could lead to creating agreements to go to the gym together, which is very conducive to your sports performance. So the advice is, go for the social get-togethers, but have a 0% drink or a glass of water at the end of the evening so you can put in your best efforts at RowStudio the next day!


Who’s Dr. Kirsten? Kirsten Pothof, 27 years old, living in de Pijp, Amsterdam and will provide you every two weeks with all the answers to your burning Health questions. Aiding you with tips and tricks so you can train responsibly!


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