Alcohol And Fitness

Dehydration, Injury, And Mental Fatigue: PT Reveals the Damaging Effects Drinking Has on Your Fitness Goals

Friday night at the bar after a leg day session underneath one? Here’s how your favorite vice might be jeopardizing your performance in the gym.

You’re hitting the gym Monday to Friday, eating a balanced diet, and sticking to a healthy routine but come to weigh day, you’re hit with a reality check as the results you expected aren’t forthcoming.

Luke Hughes, a PT at OriGym, reveals how your boozy weekend seshes could be threatening to thwart your hard work and, worse, affecting your health.

How does alcohol affect our bodies?

The recommended alcohol limit is 14 units over a week; this is the equivalent of six pints of beer or ten small glasses of wine. Drink Aware says nearly a quarter (23%) of Brits consume over the suggested amount.

How alcohol affects your body: 

  • It usually takes the liver about an hour to remove one unit of alcohol from the body, so after a heavy session, your liver struggles to remove all the drinks you’ve consumed – causing the dreaded hangover. 
  • Alcohol changes the way we think by binding to the neurotransmitters responsible for calmness and sedation. Therefore we feel more social and confident, but less inhibited after we’ve had a few drinks.
  • If you drink more than 12 units over a short period, you’re putting yourself at risk of developing alcohol poisoning, which can cause interference with the body’s automatic functions.

5 PT-approved tips to get back on track after a heavy session

How does alcohol affect our body?

1. Drink your water

It’s not uncommon to experience a hangover the day after a heavy night of partying. Still, drinking water between each alcoholic drink can limit dehydration of the body, which is what causes that awful feeling of sickness the morning after. 

Drinking water the day after a heavy session will help restore necessary fluids. Although it won’t completely cure your hangover – your body will indeed thank you for the rehydration!

Resist the cravings

2. Resist the cravings

When we’re hungover, our body naturally craves salty and fatty foods. This is because alcohol encourages the brain to release galanin, the neurochemical that promotes a need for fatty foods.

Resist the urge and opt for an electrolyte drink with healthy fats, salts, and carbs from fruits and nuts. The body will replenish, and your calorie intake won’t be sky-high, meaning your fitness goals won’t be in jeopardy.

Take a nap

3. Take a nap

If you’re feeling sluggish the day after a night out, missing a day at the gym won’t put your fitness goals at risk. 

Alcohol reduces our rapid eye movement sleep as we fall into a deeper sleep when intoxicated. Missing out on that all-important REM sleep our body and brain so desperately needs for dreaming, memory, emotional processing, and healthy brain development means it might be a safer bet to skip the workout if you’re feeling exhausted and catch up on your sleep by taking a nap to recharge. 

In the evening, after a heavy session, aim to catch up on a full night of uninterrupted sleep to make up for the sleep deficit and allow your body to repair.

4. Let drunk you thank sober you by being prepared

Are you guilty of emptying your wardrobe onto your bed as you prepare? Or does your kitchen resemble an empty bottle dumping ground after hosting pre-drinks? 

Take some time to tidy your space – drunk, you will thank yourself for it! Nothing is worse than coming home to an unmade bed you can’t just fall into.

Instead of rushing to the pub, take some time to make sure your bedroom is clean, your phone charger is at the ready, and you’ve stocked up on bedside water and paracetamol.

Don’t torture yourself in the gym

5. Don’t torture yourself in the gym

Exercise increases brain oxygen flow and boosts energy by releasing those all-important endorphins. So, if you can muster the strength, a light-to-moderate workout will benefit your body. 

Make sure you’re avoiding injury by refraining from any intense exercise. Our attention, muscle coordination, and decision-making skills are impaired when we’re hungover.

Our body is already dehydrated when we’re hungover so we must replenish any water lost before, during, and after exercise. 

Luke says: “The key to staying on track when on a fitness journey is ensuring you’re informed about the effect particular food and drink can have on your body.

“A night out could seriously hinder your progress because of the excess calories and the effects on the body. If you’re hungover and sluggish, you’re much more likely to reach for a takeaway and skip the gym.”

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