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You work hard at staying fit and take pride in the way you present yourself to the world. Yet when you hit the bottle hard (or even a little for some), you may not be hitting your fitness goals as quickly or at all. What you are drinking may be causing adverse effects, even if you are doing everything else (conscientiously eating, lifting, doing cardio) “correctly”.
Why are you drinking?
Some holiday workplace parties are still happening, and what better way to quickly get comfortable at your office party than downing a drink quickly? The weather’s crummy, it gets dark early and you feel bored and stuck inside. Why not throw back a couple while watching Netflix? What better way to relax after a long, hard workday than with a drink or two,or three?
I’ve had many conversations with clients and friends about the way alcohol affects their workouts, their weight, even their motivation. Below, I’ve quickly broken down why alcohol may be affecting one or all of these for you.
How Booze Affects your Workouts
When drinking, you likely eat more than you usually do. Inhibition does not end at the lampshade on your head, but instead it usually ends with your face in the fridge. Both can cause indigestion and sluggishness. Whiskey gut + core workout = not a fun time. Fogginess and/or headaches can make you not work out as hard as you usually do (not finishing sets, or cutting the time short). Worse yet, is skipping your workout entirely. The best thing you can do for your body after a night of drinking is to get up and get moving.
How Booze Affects your Weight
First of all, the calories. Alcoholic drinks contain a lot of empty calories (your body gets almost absolutely no benefit from what you are consuming). And the calories from the drinks aren’t the only ones you’re likely ingesting. Alcohol can also make you eat more than you usually would (as mentioned above). Many of us have gone out for a night on the town, and right before we crawl into bed we tear the refrigerator apart. Or, on the walk home we stop by a fast food place. Someone who normally eats smart and clean can often become a victim of the Fourth Meal.
And it’s not just calories. Alcohol can mess up the normal, inner workings of your body.Your body processes alcohol first. It wants to get it out of your system as quickly as possible. After that, it’s on to processing the likely unhealthy items you’ve been consuming (no one ever had beer and baby carrots… and enjoyed it). Alcohol also causes inflammation of your organs (specifically, liver). Your body does not respond to things as well when your organs are inflamed.
Consuming a lot of alcohol can also affect the way your body absorbs nutrients. When you are lacking in a certain nutrient, possible outcomes are fatigue and depression, etc. This is obvious, but feeling fatigued and or depressed will not help you stick to your workout routine.
How Booze Affects your Motivation
You likely didn’t sleep as well after a night of drinking. This combined with above said things is going to make waking up early to get in your workout a huge stretch. This can turn into a bad routine if you’re drinking regularly. The fix? Make sure that you plan your workout times and stick to them. You’ll only workout once hung over (hopefully) before you realize it’s just not worth it.
Enjoying a glass of wine or a beer here and there can be fun and relaxing. Try just consuming alcohol when you go out and not on a daily basis. If you are training really hard for a goal, I would eliminate alcohol completely. It’s easiest if you make sure you don’t have any in the house to tempt you. I’m not saying don’t have fun or enjoy yourself. I’m just saying to be mindful of what you are consuming and what it’s doing to your body. Is it worth the potential set back of your hard work? Or the additional struggle it will take you to reach your fitness goals? Keep those questions in mind before you reach for a (or another) drink.
Contributor Kelly Sturdy is a Certified Personal Trainer and Specialist in Fitness Nutrition. While not training her clients or competing in Bikini Class body building competitions, Kelly can be found in her organic garden, possibly talking to a chicken or two. For more of her articles, click here.