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Effects of alcohol on training

Whether it's catching up with friends over happy hour or grabbing a drink with your significant other at the end of the day, alcohol can be a fun social thing to do. While you can absolutely see results from training and consume alcohol (preferably not simultaneously for safety reasons 🤪), it's important to know and understand how alcohol consumption can affect your training. 1. Sleep Although alcohol can make you drowsy, it does not enhance your sleep. Alcohol can increase chances of snoring and sleep apnea, which affects your quality of sleep. It can also affect your ability to spend proper time in each sleep phase (REM and NREM), which inhibits your recovery both from daily life and training. 2. Recovery Have you ever checked your fitness watch after a night of drinking? Perhaps your resting heart rate was higher overnight, your HRV was lower, your sleep score was down, and/or your body battery was lower than usual. I ALWAYS recommend asking yourself how you feel first before checking your watch stats, but these measurements can be a sign that your recovery was slightly down after a night of drinking. Lack of recovery can make you feel sluggish, moody, or disinterested in the thought of training the day after drinking. Remember, you can only train as hard as what you can recover from. 3. Injury You might not think of how alcohol consumption can affect your ability to become injured in sports-related activities, but one study (PMID: 10840864) shows that there's a higher risk of injury in those who drink alcohol vs those who do not. It also shows there's a reduction in performance up to 11.4%. Injury comes back to maintaining strength and ones ability to recover, which as we learned in number 2, recovery is down after alcohol consumption, therefore making it more challenging to maintain or gain strength. 4. Food choices Alcohol hinders your ability to make some decisions. It's likely that if you've consumed alcohol before, you may or may not have made some poor choices here and there. This applies to food, as well. Does a late night 'za or midnight T-Bell run sound familiar? Although seemingly delicious at the time, it's unlikely you were in tune with your hunger cues after a few too many brewskies. Heck, we don't even have to go as far as the late night mishaps. Have you disregarded your hunger cues at a Mexican restaurant because you're with your friends, having margaritas, and there's a bowl of chips and salsa calling your name? Although not the end of the world, this can have effects on your training and wellness goals if it happens frequently. It's completely possible that you may not feel any of these effects listed above. And, I'm not here to say how frequently or how much alcohol you should or should not consume. As I said, it's still possible to consume alcohol and see results. These tid bits are just important to know and understand, especially if you begin to notice a change in your ability to recover from your training.

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Katharine Moustakes
Hey, friend!

I'm Katharine.

I'm a personal trainer, running coaching, and nutrition coach who's stoked about lifting, the outdoors, summit snacks, and my dog.

 

I understand that fitness is not your whole life. Fitness is a PART of your life. I approach training in a way that adds value to your life and longevity, so you can enjoy being active whether you're romping around in the mountains, playing with your kids, or signing up for your first 10K race.

I'm here to meet you where you are, so you can train safely and effectively, and gain strength and confidence both in the gym and on the trails.

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