How Does Alcohol Affect Athletic Performance?

If you are on the road to losing weight, implementing a gym routine and trying to eat better, then you have surely wondered how last night’s beer affects your progress. Life is all about moderation and cutting out drinking from your life altogether may not be for you, but it is valuable to understand how alcohol affects your body and fitness so you can make better choices. From a place of understanding, you can be happier and healthier moving forward to achieve the body you desire.

As mentioned, alcohol in moderation is okay, according to government dietary guidelines women are recommended one drink in a sitting and men, two drinks. So sticking to these rules will leave you good on your way and without a nasty hangover. But when it comes to muscle and booze, well, they don’t mix. Alcohol drains your energy, hinders fat burning and significantly dehydrates your body.

Let’s take a more in depth look at how alcohol affects your fat loss journey as well as what moderation and a standard drink actually looks like.

Low Energy

When your body breaks down alcohol, the liver is hindered from producing as much glucose as usual, leaving you with low blood-sugar levels and significantly less energy. If you have ever had a late night at the bars, and downed one too many, you will feel sluggish when waking up and not have the chipper mindset towards fitness that you normally may have.

Alcohol’s process of moving through your body takes more negative energy and is not going to allow you to perform a high intensity workout with ease. Along with energy from your body’s normal functions, you do not go into deep sleep the same way when alcohol is coursing through your body. Your sleep is less valuable while drunk and does not allow you to let your body repair for the next day.

This in itself may help you stay away from those one or two extra drinks at the end of the night.

Fat Burning

There is a misconception that alcohol is stored as fat, which is not true. Alcohol enters your body like any other substance, and is classified as a carb. The reason you may seem more pudgy or not able to achieve weight loss goals when drinking is because when you drink your body ignores the nutrient absorption of foods and immediately tries to eliminate the toxic substance (alcohol) from your body.

Because of this, the other calories you took in as a food source are stored as fat because they are deprioritized. In technical terms, Ethanol (alcohol) is converted into acetate andacetyl-CoA, which signals the body not to burn any sugar or fat. This is not good when it comes to workouts and weight loss.


Alcohol makes you produce more urine as well as dehydrates your body. Alcohol suppresses your body’s antidiuretic hormone which allows your body to flush water and toxins at a normal rate. Therefore, you are slowing down the hydration process leaving your cells dried out.

Not being properly hydrated will lower your performance substantially as your body will have trouble regulating your temperature and maintaining blood flow to make sure the necessary oxygen and nutrients get to your muscles.You should ideally drink at least one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you ingest, you will thank me the next day when your friend’s hangover is twice as bad as yours.


Alcohol does not contain any beneficial nutrients, it is full of empty calories. Seven calories per gram in fact, as much as pure fat. The more alcohol you ingest, the more your body will crave alcohol and food, hoping to get some useful nutrients. If you are serious about building muscle and burning fat, you want to avoid taking in calories that have absolutely no value to your body.

It is okay to splurge on a drink every once in a while, but as we can tell from the scientific evidence, excessive alcohol will not help you achieve your fitness goals. Find special occasions to drink and remove it from your day to day life. You will begin to feel better, look better and enjoy the gym more.

  • January 29, 2020
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