I finished exams today!! So it seemed like an appropriate time to do a post on alcohol. Alcohol and training is a bit of a taboo topic. You’ve probably heard before that alcohol is just empty calories, which is true, but that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to happy hour forever. For me, alcohol was not worth the negative impact it was having on me bother physically and mentally and so I made the decision to no longer drink. My priorities were my mental and physical health. This doesn’t mean I think everyone should give up alcohol. Having a drink can be fun and sociable and if you enjoy a night out then that’s okay. It is important, however, that it is done in moderation. There are obviously lots of reasons why this is the case, but let’s talk about it in relation to training.
Alcohol doesn’t fill you up but alcohol is very calorific! Alcohol works out almost as high as fats but doesn’t offer your body the same benefits as fat does in your diet (it basically lacks nutritional value) and so just speeds up fat storage. If a drink is what you choose to use your calories/macros on, that is fine but only as a one off. Your body doesn’t need alcohol (or some cheesy chips on the way home… I am totally guilty!) but your body does need macro and micronutrients so alcohol should not act as a replacement for such things.
Beyond the calories, alcohol can have a huge impact on your training performance. Out bodies absorb alcohol really quickly but it takes a long time to metabolise, which means it will still be impacting your insides even after the big night. This means decreased strength, dehydration and you’ll probably be knackered. This really does mea you have to prioritise. If a big night out is more important that progress then that is absolutely fine and completely personal choice, but you do need to consider the fact it will have an impact and so sacrifices will have to be made somewhere.
It is also important to consider mental health when talking about alcohol consumption. For a sufferer of anxiety and low moods, alcohol just exaggerated these problems and really wasn’t worth it. Not only did this have an impact on my training but also my general mindset, which can be extremely detrimental. Of course, not everyone will suffer from these side effects from alcohol, but, if you do, there is no shame is making the decision not to drink. I have found since giving up alcohol, I have still being able to go out and have a good time without having to deal with the mental and physical aftermath the next day. Deciding not to drink and being a University student can be difficult, particularly when you have drank before as many people will not understand or support your decision, but do not feel pressured to have a drink. Think of all the money you’d save on the taxi home (not the mention the drinks!).
Training and alcohol don’t have to be worst enemies but they are also never going to be the best of friends. People train and drink alcohol, the two do not have to be mutually exclusive and you have to be realistic. If you like the odd glass of wine ever so often then that is absolutely fine. If you want to go out to a club for a friends birthday, that is also absolutely fine. Just consider your priorities and, just as with food, don’t let yourself feel guilty if you happen to make the most of happy hour.
If you’re interested in finding out more about alcohol and what you should be drinking, you can take a look at the site. Fitness on Toast also nicely breaks down the calories of some of the most popular drinks so you can take a look here if you want to plan your night in advance.