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How Alcohol affects your training 2015-01-13

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We may think that festive season is over now that Christmas and New Years have come and gone for another year, but we still have months of warm weather, daylight savings, parties and celebrations which are all a catalyst for alcohol, and lots of it.  

Now don’t hate us yet, we aren’t saying swear off the sauce. Studies have shown alcohol in moderation is ok and some say it can even ward off some nasties such as heart disease, but have you thought about how alcohol consumption is affecting your training?

Alcohol stalls Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Your Friday night bevies are often the precursor of poor quality sleep and in turn a low release of HGH. See Sleep your Way to Peak Performance. HGH is crucial to turn all that hard work you did at the gym into muscle gain and aid tissue recovery. An adequate supply of HGH is released when you are deep in your REM (rapid eye movement) state of sleep, levels of HGH released during a poor quality sleep are next to nothing. If you hear people saying they sleep well after drinking they are mistaken, ‘Passing out’ and REM are very different things.

Alcohol steals from your energy reserve

Those three Appletini’s (yes they are delicious and no, I’m not embarrassed)  you had last night won’t be disappearing by themselves. Your body uses energy reserves, the same energy reserves you use for training, to breakdown and expel the alcohol from your body. So after your crappy night’s sleep and poor recovery from yesterday’s training, you will have even less energy to drag yourself to the gym.

Alcohol takes a swipe at your testosterone levels

Put simply, the more testosterone one has (both men and women), the easier it is to develop and tone muscle. Alcohol (as if it hadn’t already done enough!) is toxic to the release of testosterone, having a similar effect to depletion of HGH. 

So far we have learnt alcohol basically steals your recovery power and saps all your energy, but it also makes you dehydrated, increases your heart rate making exercise seem harder and adds extra calories to your intake. Wow. 

Now don’t get too down on yourself for having a glass of vino with dinner, remember most things in moderation are ok. So if you are out with friends and the mood strikes, don’t pass on the plonk for good, just pick your times and monitor your intake.

For more information on alcohol consumption and alcohol related issues see