Yes, I know cracking a beer at the end of a long day or sipping that vintage vino with your dinner sounds like an incredible idea, but is it ruining your workout?
Simply put; it sure is.
The consumption of alcohol is a prevalent part of North American and European cultures. Whether it’s introduced to us at a family get together or at friend’s wedding, it is always around. In fact, it is the most abused drug.
While I understand its place in society, I fail to comprehend why people like us – those who change their diet and lifestyle to get fit and lose weight – still consume so much of it. Maybe we just aren’t seeing the big picture.
Now, with this perfectly placed segue let me tell you exactly why booze has no business being a part of your fitness lifestyle.
Alcohol Diminishes Your Ability to Use Fats for Energy
Whether you’re body building or just trying to lose a few pounds, a small serving of alcohol will quickly diminish your ability to use stored fat as energy. To properly metabolize fat, your body must maintain a certain condition. In a group study using men, after two legal servings of alcohol with only 90 calories each, the average man’s ability to metabolize fat dropped by 78%.
The reason for this is merely science. Alcohol passes through the stomach and digestive track which then quickly delivers it to the blood and liver for processing. Converted to acetaldehyde then acetate, it significantly stunts the metabolizing of fat until the acetate has depleted. This means your fat just kicks back, relaxes and makes itself comfortable until the acetate burns off.
Alcohol Has Catabolic Effects on Your Muscles
Just to be clear, a catabolic effect means it breaks down muscle; anabolic would therefore imply building muscle. Part of working out and getting fit relies on building up your muscle mass. Resist the urge to picture a massive hulked out body and shake your head at me. I simply mean the more muscle you build and maintain the more fat you will ultimately burn.
It is believed that alcohol impacts the development of the hormone testosterone. For those of you who aren’t familiar with hormones and bodybuilding, testosterone is an important hormone in regards to your muscles. Yes ladies, this includes you too!
Higher levels of testosterone is what allows men to more easily build muscle and shed fat, unlike their female counterparts. Not only does it support muscle development but it promotes a more positive metabolism and therefore speeds up fat loss.
Long story short, enzymes that are critical in the development of testosterone are being unjustly diverted to breaking down your booze thus diminishing your ability to build muscle. Not only does alcohol cause a dip in testosterone, but it causes a spike in cortisol which further exacerbates the situation.
Couple all this knowledge with dehydration and cocktail-induced munchies and you’re probably starting to wonder why you even worked out. Seems to me that happy hour wasn’t such a good idea after all.
I’m not saying to completely forgo having a casual drink every now again, just keep this info in the back of your mind. If you’re working hard but that last five pounds just isn’t melting off your body it might be time to take a page out of Jamie Foxx’s book and “blame it on the Goose, got you feeling loose [...] Blame it on the a a a a a alcohol!”
What do you think? Do exercise and alcohol mix, or do you think you should leave the booze alone? Tell us in the comments…