Alcohol and……




Alcohol use cancels out gains from your workout

Working out while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous because of the likelihood of injury.  In addition, consuming alcohol after a workout, practice, or competition can cancel out any physiological gains. Not only does long-term alcohol use diminish protein synthesis resulting in a decrease in muscle build-up, but even short-term alcohol use can impede muscle growth.


Alcohol causes dehydration and slows down the body’s ability to heal

Speeding the recovery of sore muscles and injuries is integral to optimal performance. Alcohol is a toxin—a toxin that travels through your bloodstream to every organ and tissue in your body, causing dehydration and slowing your body’s ability to heal itself.


Alcohol use prevents muscle recovery

In order to build bigger, stronger muscles, your body needs sleep to repair itself after a workout. Because of alcohol’s effect on sleep, however, your body is robbed of a chemical called “human growth hormone” or HGH which is part of the normal muscle building and repair process, and the body’s way of telling itself your muscle needs to grow bigger and stronger. Alcohol, however, can decrease the secretion of HGH by as much as 70%!  Also, when alcohol is in your body, it triggers the production of a substance in your liver that is directly toxic to testosterone. Testosterone is essential for the development and recovery of your muscles.


Alcohol use depletes your source of energy

Once alcohol is absorbed through your stomach, small intestine, then finally into your cells, it can disrupt the water balance in muscle cells, thus altering their ability to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is your muscles’ source of energy, providing the fuel required for contraction. Alcohol also reduces energy sources by inhibiting gluconeogenesis in which glucose is formed from substances other than glucose. When alcohol is oxidized by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, it produces an elevation of NADH, which ultimately reduces the amount of a coenzyme that is essential in the production of ADP. This loss of ATP results in a lack of energy and loss of endurance.





Preparation is essential to peak performance

However, alcohol can have a devastating effect on this process.  When there is alcohol in your system, your brain’s ability to learn and store new information is inhibited due to compromising of the hippocampus, a structure deep in the brain vital to the formation of memories.  If you cannot form new memories, you cannot learn.


Alcohol hampers memory and retention use

Not drinking just while studying is ineffective. Memory formation is a complex process that takes a long time. Many memories are solidified when you are not thinking about the material. In fact, much of memory formation occurs while you sleep. Alcohol affects your sleep cycle by disrupting the sequence and duration of normal sleep, reducing your brain’s ability to learn and retain information.  Even drinking up to six hours before you got to sleep will negatively affect your sleep cycle. Drinking after a day of classes, or studyi ng reduces retention of material.

Five or more drinks in one night can affect brain and body activities for up to 3 days. The same intake for two consecutive nights affects five days.





Alcohol use constricts aerobic metabolism and endurance regardless of amount of exercise

Alcohol use requires increased conditioning to maintain weight.  Alcohol calories are not converted to glycogen, and therefore are not a good source of calories during exercise.  Each drink contains 100-150 empty calories. The body treats alcohol as fat, converting alcohol sugars into fatty acids.The body can only metabolize alcohol at a fixed rate, therefore excess drinking results in weight gain.



Alcohol use inhibits absorption of these nutrients

thiamine (B1), key to protein and fat metabolism and hemoglobin formation, B12, essential to healthy red blood and nerve cells, folic acid, integral to the formation of new cells, and zinc essential to energy (endurance) and metabolic processes.






Most athletes who consume alcohol believe that once the "high" in over, so are the effects of alcohol on the body. Alcohol's adverse effects linger long after its blood concentration has fallen to zero.

  • Reaction time, balance, coordination, strength, power and speed

  • Alcohol interferes with a multitude of chemical and hormonal reactions in the body.

    • Cardiovascular system (raises blood pressure)

    • Burns up supply of B complex vitamin

    • Slowly depletes vitamins already in the body and interferes with the absorption and storage of new nutrient

    • Reduce your blood sugar levels so your energy levels are lowered

    • Increase your risk of dehydration, alcohol has a diuretic effect



The American College of Sports Medicine has a position statement regarding the use of alcohol in sports. The two key points in the statement are that:

  • Consuming a large amount of alcohol at one time can limit skills that require reaction time, balance, accuracy, hand-eye coordination (for 12 to 48 hours after consumption, even 2-3 drinks)

  • Alcohol decreases strength, power, speed, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular endurance.


  • Depletes aerobic capacity for up to 48 hour

  • Distorted perception affecting accuracy for up to 48 hour

  • 2 nights of back to back high risk drinking (5+) can have an effect for up to 5 day

  • Disrupts sleep patterns, sequence, duration, sleep cycle… most important memory happens when you sleep

  • In the exercise recovery phase, (after the game/ practice) alcohol has been found to interfere with the loading of carbohydrates in muscles (muscle glycogen synthesis), and to lengthen the recovery and rehabilitation from injury. In short, drinking alcohol will decrease an athlete's ability to train and play hard.



The Drinker’s Check-up


Evaluate Your Drinking


Alcohol Screening


Collegiate Alcohol Use


Facts on Tap

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