You might think that people who work out tend to not drink as much as people who don’t prioritize healthy living. But researchers are finding that alcohol and exercise have a, maybe somewhat tempestuous, relationship.
Research from the University of Houston suggests that exercise causes a cross-tolerance to alcohol meaning you need more alcohol to feel the same effects. University of Miami also found a correlation between alcohol and working out. On average, heavy drinkers exercised 10 more minutes a week than moderate drinkers and 20 minutes more than abstainers. The study also found that drinkers of all ages and both genders with 10 percent more likely to engage in vigorous exercise like running.
But before you go running to the local bar, make sure you understand that alcohol and exercise don’t have a cause/effect relationship. You might want to consider a few of the negative effects drinking can have on your exercise routine:
Opening a cold brew might seem like the perfect thing after that long bike ride, but alcohol in your system right after a workout seriously slows your recovery. Your glycogen stores have been depleted and need to be restored. If you consume alcohol, it displaces those carbs and leaves your stores 50% lower even eight hours after. Skip the post-workout beer and opt for a proper recovery drink or snack such as this All Natural Endurox R4 Recovery Drink.
When alcohol is in your system, your body is not only dealing with empty calories but it also prioritizes burning the alcohol instead of carbs and fat. In addition to that, alcohol raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol which contributes to fat storage in the midsection—a.k.a. beer belly.
While it may seem like alcohol helps you sleep, it really only helps you fall asleep because of its sedating effects. But alcohol consumed before bed can disrupt the second half of your night and not just because you wake up to pee. The second half of the sleep cycle is disrupted. Overall sleep duration is decreased and restlessness is increased. This not only deprives your body of full recovery but will make the next day a little bit harder.
Shortage of Water and Nutrients
Alcohol not only dehydrates you, but it irritates the lining of your stomach inhibiting the absorption of nutrients. And we all know how alcohol dehydrates your body once you break the seal.
But…Before you swear off the drink, there are some real benefits to alcohol as well. Alcohol helps increase your HDL Cholesterol (the good kind) and helps block LDL Cholesterol (icky bad kind). There’s also some research that suggests that moderate alcohol consumption can help protect against brain disease like Alzheimer’s.
The key is making smart selections and avoiding excessive amounts allowing you to reap the benefits of alcohol. Switch to water at least a couple of hours before bed, and limit yourself to one or two drinks.
What to Drink
Wine has a wealth of benefits without containing a ton of extra sugar. It contains antioxidants, phytochemicals and resveratrol. It’s also anti inflammatory. A glass of day could not only keep you looking young, but it’s good for your heart and protects against arthritis.
If wine isn’t your thing, hard liquor is not a bad option depending on what you mix it with. Water or club soda are great options. Ask for a piece of fruit for added flavor. You can even go with diet sodas. Steer clear of juices because most bars use juice cocktail which are packed with extra sugar.
If you’re hankering for a cold one, opt for a light beer with less than a 100 calories per 12 ounces. If you’re going for a more natural diet, beer and wine are both great options.
Living a healthy life isn’t about completely eliminating questionable things like alcohol or sugar or cheesy 90’s pop music. It’s about understanding that there needs to be a balance. We explore the balance in our 80/20 article. So enjoy your drinks but make sure it’s part of the 20%.