Alcohol is no workout partner

While the occasional drink generally won’t do us harm, it’s important to understand the effects alcohol can have on aspects of your exercise regime. We caught up with personal trainer and Bupa Wellness Health Club manager, Jos Delavega, and asked four questions about the potential impact of alcohol on you’re fitness.

1. How does alcohol affect exercise performance?

Alcohol can have a pretty big effect on exercise performance. It can reduce your balance, hand-eye coordination, reaction time, strength, endurance and energy levels.

If you’ve had a drink the night before your workout, you’re also likely to be dehydrated. This is because alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it can make you need to go to the toilet more than usual. As dehydration increases, you’re likely to experience a gradual reduction in both physical and mental performance.

2. Many of us are familiar with the dreaded ‘beer belly’. Is alcohol undoing our hard work and making us fat?

I have no doubt drinking alcohol regularly can lead to weight gain.

Think about all the extra calories you put in to your body, both from the alcohol and the tendency to make poor food choices when under the influence. Plus, you’re less likely to want to or have capacity to do much physical activity after a big night. 
Man lifting his shirt to show his beer belly

3. To get the most from our workouts, would you recommend completely swearing off the booze?

I’d probably steer away from it or, at the very least, set yourself limits and stick to them.

I think many of us have worked out or competed in a team sport after drinking alcohol the night before and have noticed a difference in our performance, and recovery too. I have no doubt that alcohol can really detract from your workout gains.

4. What are five potential benefits of breaking from the booze?

  1. Reclaim the day after.
  2. Lose excess weight.
  3. Experience less headaches and stomach complaints.
  4. Sleep more soundly.
  5. Stay healthier for longer.
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