The summer heat just lends itself to a nice cold drink! However, moderation is extremely important when it comes to consuming alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, they can really hijack the results that many people are working for and it’s important to understand some of the effects that alcohol can have on performance.
What Constitutes A Drink?
- A 12 ounce beer at 5% alcohol content
- A 5 ounce glass of wine at about 12% alcohol content
- A 1.5 ounce shot of 80 proof liquor
It’s also significant to note that different types of beer, wine, and liquor can vary greatly in their alcohol content. Serving sizes at bars and restaurants are very large and can be more than twice a single serving and double the amount of alcohol that you are consuming.
Alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories and sugars. The alcohol alone contains 7 calories per gram. Liquid calories can be consumed very fast and contribute to weight gain. Even worse, it’s much more likely to make poor food choices when under the influence of alcohol.
Negative Effects of Alcohol
- Weight gain.
- Reduced blood flow to muscle.
- Increased conversion of testosterone to estrogen causing more fat deposits and fluid retention.
- Imbalances in blood glucose.
- Build-up of fats in the bloodstream.
- Reduced oxygen supply to the brain.
- Depressed central nervous system.
- Reduced reaction time, accuracy, hand-eye coordination.
- Decreased endurance.
- Diuretic effect increasing risk of dehydration.
- Sleep disorders by way of disrupting the sequence and duration of sleep states.
- Altered total sleep time and the time required to fall asleep.
- Inhibits the breakdown of nutrients into usable substances by decreasing the secretion of digestive enzymes from the pancreas.
If you want to increase muscle mass, decrease fat, manage weight, or improve general health, it is in your best interest to abstain from drinking alcohol, or do so in moderation. If you are looking to make lifestyle changes to reduce your alcohol consumption, see if these steps can help.
Steps to Cut Back
- Start tracking how much alcohol you are consuming. You may be having more than you realize.
- Pay attention to serving sizes. You could be consuming 2-3 servings in every drink you have.
- Set goals for how much you are allowed to have in a given week. Are you only going to allow yourself a drink once per week? On that day, what are you going to limit yourself to?
- Pace yourself. Drink slowly and drink water too.
- Include food. Drinking on an empty stomach allows it to absorb more quickly.
- Find healthy alternatives to drinking related events. Going for a walk might relax you as much as you think a drink will.
- Avoid triggers. It’s not uncommon for many people to drink when they hang out with particular people or go certain places.
- Find social support. Let others know that you are trying to cut back and start spending time with people who lead a healthy lifestyle.
Even small levels (1 drink for women, 2 for men) can be too much. There are certain situations when alcohol should be avoided altogether. Do not drink alcohol under the following circumstances:
- You should never consume alcohol if you are going to operate machinery or a vehicle of any kind.
- If you have a medical condition or are taking medication.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
- If directed by a health care provider.