Alcohol's Effect on Athletic Performance

Australia is one of the worlds leading alcohol consumers and has a strong drinking culture embeded in all walks of society across the nation and much of it is tied into the sporting culture.

Many amateur players enjoy knocking back a few pints after a hard game of football, whilst many professionals will abstain from drinking during the season - but what impact does it actually have on athletic performance.

To find out check out this excellent article by Alan Aragon on the topic:


Musclehead's Guide To Alcohol

Here are the key points I noted:

- Alcohol is a macronutrient with 7 calories per gram, however your body can't process and use it for fuel hence it is viewed as a toxin.

- Effect on fat loss is unknown - studies show alcohol drinkers doesn't have an effect on BMI and in one case the alcohol drinkers lost more weight than the non-alcohol drinkers

- Author's guess is alcohol effect is neutral effect, whilst some research suggests it may help you lose fat (increase insulin sensitivity via enzyme triggering)

- One to two thirds of alcoholics (>6 drinks per day) end up with alcohol myopathy (muscle weakness and atrophy)

- Effect on testosterooe - study showed 2-3 beers per day lowered Testosterone count by 6.8% over 3 weeks, but increased DHEAS levels by 16.5% (decreases risk of cardiovascular disease)

- Effect on post-exercise hormone responses - study showed no effect over 5 hours with half the subjects given 5 standard drinks - cortisol elevation only for a slight period in the alcohol drinking group

- Effect on strength, endurance, muscle damage, soreness or stiffness - study showed no difference in alcohol drinker who were given six drinks and tested for strength and endurance before, during, 24 and 48 hours after ingesting alcohol

- Beware of dehydrating effect - more concentrated an alcohol source the greater it's dehydrating effect - 40% alcohol drink can have you pissing out 4 times the amount you drank

- Research on rugby players shows anaerobic performance doesn't suffer, but aerobic performance does after a night of heavy binge drinking

- Research shows moderate alcohol consumption can have some positive anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy effects

- Overall message is don't binge, but if you drink moderately, there's no reason to stop doing so from a scientific POV and it can even help keep your heart healthy.

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