Alcohol & Recovery

6 mins read

Rum, Gin, Lager and my favourite, Whisky. Alcohol has been and will always be part of any human culture. Today, it is much easier to get your hands on a bottle of wine and drink the night away. Alcohol can and will make you feel good but at the same time, it might be a problem for body recovery and inhibits lower physical performance.

Let’s get right to it.

What Is Alcohol?

Right, so as easy as it might seem, alcohol is the by-product during the fermentation process in which a catalyst like yeast is used to convert sugar into alcohol.

Alcohol once consumed, is then metabolised by the liver. The enzymes in your liver, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) will metabolise the alcohol into acetaldehyde and which is further broken down into acetate, and lastly into water and carbon dioxide to be removed from the body.

Some people have a gene deficiency causing their liver to produce a “poorer” version of ALDH and therefore not being able to fully break down the alcohol ergo, producing the redness of the skin.

How Does It Affect Physical Performance?

An increase in the consumption of alcohol over a longer period has shown to increase cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a hormone which is produced when one is under stress.

An increase in cortisol level is detrimental to one’s health. [1] For example, it will increase your appetite (which is why stress eating is a real thing), shrinks immune function response and various other health issues.

An excess in alcohol levels will very so often reduce muscle recovery and reduces muscle protein synthesis ergo, impeding recovery and future growth. [2] Alcohol consumption before bedtime will reduce the quality of sleep and thus not putting your body in a proper state of rest.

Reduction in Testosterone Levels

An excess in alcohol consumption will reduce a man’s testosterone levels and impedes a man and women’s reproductive ability. [3] As we know, testosterone is needed for improved muscle strength and growth. By having lower testosterone levels, you will have a diminished return in muscle growth.

An increases levels in alcohol consumption has also shown to reduce sperm quality and results in smaller testes.

How Much Alcohol Is Considered Excessive?

Too much alcohol will result in intoxication which is what we call getting drunk. Binge drinking over the weekends is way worse than having moderate amounts daily.

For men – more than 15 drinks a week

For women – more than 8 drinks per week

You can learn more from the CDC here.

Caveat

Alcohol consumption following an exercise doesn’t seem to show much degradation on the physical aspect, however, do note that the study was done on athletes and not the average daily office fella and its sample size is fairly small. [2]

Drinking alcohol is a social skill and not just having a fun time. It is showed that consumptions in moderate amounts have no significant impact on one’s physical performance in the short run. This does not defeat the fact that drinking alcohol in excess in the long term will lead to various health issues such as stroke, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

What You Should Do Instead.

Go have a drink and enjoy your life – in moderation. Unless you’re a competing athlete, then you might want to save it for the celebrations afterwards. Keep it to 710ml of 5% beer for men and 150ml of wine for the ladies. Just rough gauge of the number would do.

You can learn more from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention or from HealthHub.

Outtake

Every vice in moderation is key. You’ve one. Life to live, so live and let live. However, not to the extent of hurting yourself and those around you. Take care of your body, and it’ll take care of you. You can find out more about the effect of alcohol here.

References

  1. McEwan, B. S. M. (2009, April 7). Central effects of stress hormones in health and disease: understanding the protective and damaging effects of stress and stress mediators. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2474765/
  2. Lakićević, N. (2019). The Effects of Alcohol Consumption on Recovery Following Resistance Exercise: A Systematic Review. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, 4(3), 3–17. https://doi.org/10.3390/jfmk4030041
  3. Yetman, D. (2020, September 4). How Alcohol Affects Testosterone. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-alcohol-affects-testosterone

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