Pros and Cons of Alcohol*

Wednesday, 26 September 2018, By Cameron Dawkins

It's been a long stressful week, but finally the weekend is here!
The first thing a lot of people want to do is get out, have a drink of their favourite alcoholic beverage, and relax.

We all know that alcohol can be a detriment to your health and fitness, but just how much does it affect you?

Imagine you're at a party and you consume 6 bourbon and colas over the course of a six-hour timeframe, this might be thought to be quite acceptable. However, consider how you would feel and how it would look if you ate 10-12 potatoes at the same party over the same timeframe? This is the food equivalent of the 6 bourbon and colas.

Still not convinced? Let's look at some pros and cons:

Pros

  • Variety of options to suit all preferences
  • Liquid courage
  • Red wine contains antioxidants
    • An alternative source of antioxidants is blueberries, which actually contain more antioxidants per 100g than red wine.

Cons

  • Alcohol is a toxin; therefore, your body wants to get rid of it first. This means all of the carbohydrates and fats you have recently consumed get put aside and probably stored while your body deals with removing the toxin.
  • Raises your body's cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which leads to higher fat storage and increased sugar cravings.
  • Lowers testosterone and growth hormone; both of which assist with muscle building and fat burning.
  • Lowers quality of sleep. Although alcohol might help you get to sleep, you are lowering the quality of the sleep you are getting and affecting your deep REM cycles (where your body does most of its healing).
  • Long term abuse can lead to liver damage, which is detrimental to maintaining optimal health.
  • STOPS protein synthesis (your body's ability to use the protein you are consuming to rebuild muscle). When implementing weights training into your program, the rate at which your body repairs muscle can greatly affect your recovery time.
  • Decreases vitamin and mineral absorption. Therefore, if you consume alcohol with your meal, your body will not absorb as much of the good nutrients as it would after a meal without alcohol.

Here are some tips for those "unavoidable" drinking occasions

  • Alternate between alcohol and water to minimize dehydration. Also, drink a full glass of water at the end of the drinking session, this will help your body flush out the alcohol as quick as possible.
  • Be conscious of the carbs and fat you eat with the alcohol, as they are likely to be stored as fat later on.
  • If you're drinking hard liquor, try to drink it straight or on the rocks (to avoid added sugar). For example, scotch on the rocks or vodka, lime and soda.

To leave you with some "drink for thought", here's some alcohol vs. exercise equivalents to consider:

250ml Red wine (12%) = 22 minutes of moderate pace walking (4.8km/hr) or, 9 minutes on the rowing machine.

500ml Full strength beer (5%) = 23 minutes of moderate pace walking (4.8km/hr) or, 10 minutes on the rowing machine.

Drink wisely.

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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