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Alcohol Performance

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Alcohol is almost impossible to avoid. It is a part of many social gatherings, events, and widely available in most restaurants. Not only that, but it can be synonymous with ‘having a good time’ on the weekend, of which we are all guilty. This doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy a beer or a glass of wine on occasion, but moderation is the key to life.

Let me preface this post by saying that by no means necessary should you ever exercise inebriated. Not only is it dangerous for yourself and others, but your coordination and reactions are slowed considerably. A good rule of thumb is seeing your body as a machine. You wouldn’t drink and drive, then don’t drink and train. Save your shots for the dance floor and midnight guilt-stricken fast food runs past midnight.

Alcohol and Performance

The moment alcohol reaches your blood stream (about 20% of volume absorbed in the stomach within the first 30 minutes of ingestion), your body prioritizes alcohol to be processed immediately by the metabolism, putting any fat or carbohydrates to the wayside. Alcohol is an anti-nutrient, competing for space in our cells for other nutrients, as well as providing zero nutritional value. At 7 calories per gram, the empty calories in alcohol can add up, considering the ‘standard drink’ in the United States contains about 14 grams of alcohol or more [1]. Plus, Alcohol can inhibit your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates [2]. This will make your workouts seem more difficult, as your muscles are fighting to use the inefficient alcohol stored as fuel. Not to mention alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes you to flush fluids out at a higher rate, resulting in dehydration. Also, protein synthesis is the mechanism by which the body repairs damaged muscles, which can be slowed or even halted due to alcohol consumption as well as growth hormone secretion reduced to a whopping 70%. [3]. All these effects can last up to several days post consumption, depending on the amount or frequency of alcohol consumed.


As previously stated, moderation is key. Having a drink or two daily will not cause all the previously listed side effects, as those are typically present during binge or chronic alcohol drinkers. There are even studies that suggest the cardiovascular system received a boost from resveratrol – an antioxidant found in red wine [4]. So sure, have that glass of wine with dinner, just don’t binge an all-nighter of tequila shots the night before a competition or hero wod.


[1]. NIH. (n.d.). What Is A Standard Drink? Retrieved August 21, 2018, from

[2]. Kim, S.-J., & Kim, D.-J. (2012). Alcoholism and Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes & Metabolism Journal, 36(2), 108–115.

[3]. Parr EB, Camera DM, Areta JL, Burke LM, Phillips SM, et al. (2014) Alcohol Ingestion Impairs Maximal Post-Exercise Rates of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following a Single Bout of Concurrent Training. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88384. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088384

[4]. Vidavalur, R., Otani, H., Singal, P. K., & Maulik, N. (2006). Significance of wine and resveratrol in cardiovascular disease: French paradox revisited. Experimental & Clinical Cardiology, 11(3), 217–22