If you've ever attempted a sweaty elliptical sesh the morning after having one too many tequila shots, you know things do not typically end well. From dizziness, to nausea, to the sudden urge to wear your Ray-Bans indoors, drinking and deadlifts just don't seem to mix. Still, you continue to hit the gym, even after a side plank on a hungover stomach nearly makes you puke, and you wonder, does alcohol affect your workout?
From being a depressant to slowing your recovery time, it's pretty clear that drinking doesn't impact your time in the gym positively. Some fitness fanatics have even chosen to abstain from alcohol completely so their bodies feel amazing and ready to slay a cardio circuit at a moment's notice. In fact, one of the most influential people in the fitness world, Kayla Itsines, proudly abstains from alcohol and has said she'll probably never drink again in her life.
Elite Daily spoke with Dr. Anthony Balduzzi, founder of the Fit Father Project, to learn about some of the effects that permanently chucking your Cabernet out of your life may bring to your #gains.
Here are five things you may notice in the gym when you abstain from alcohol -- you know, besides being able to sweat it out sans sunglasses.
1. Abstaining From Alcohol Improves Sleep Quality
Going to the gym is hard enough already, but when you're tired AF, it's nearly impossible.
Dr. Balduzzi tells Elite Daily,
Alcohol selectively disrupts rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is one of the body's most essential forms of sleep for exercise recovery. During REM sleep, growth hormone naturally rises to repair damaged muscles, while also burning fat.
Interestingly, Dr. Balduzzi explains that alcohol's impairment of REM sleep is based on the tolerance of each person.
But, generally speaking, the more you drink, the more your sleep will be affected. Abstaining completely will be the surest way to improve your sleep and your ability to recover after a challenging workout.
2. Alcohol May Interfere With Muscle Growth
According to research published in the American Journal of Physiology, alcohol consumption is associated with a decrease in muscle and lean body mass. The research revealed that alcohol might negatively impair the proteins that activate muscle growth, thus halting the #gains.
And if that doesn't convince you to toss your bottle of tequila, another study from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine showed that drinking decreases levels of human growth hormone (HGH) by about 70 percent. HGH is important for both muscle growth and repair, so heavy drinkers might just be sabotaging their progress in the gym without even knowing it.
3. Drinking Affects Your Metabolism
Dr. Balduzzi explains some of the negative effects alcohol can have on your metabolism, and in turn, your fitness goals:
Our bodies view alcohol as a metabolic toxin. When we drink, our livers kick into overdrive to break down alcohol and eliminate it from the body. In the process of metabolizing and eliminating the alcohol, our bodies 'put the breaks' on fat, carb, and protein oxidation.
Dr. Balduzzi adds that, the more you drink, the greater that blunting effect on fat burning.
After a heavy night of drinking, your body can take up to 48 hours to completely eliminate the alcohol. Removing alcohol completely from your diet ensures you avoid this scenario.
4. Alcohol Can Slow Your Recovery Time
You know those torturous post-leg-day feels? Alcohol can actually enhance them.
Scientists from Massey University in New Zealand found that people who tended to be heavier drinkers experienced more soreness after a session in the weight room.
5. Avoiding Alcohol Helps You Stay Hydrated.
There's nothing worse than feeling dehydrated during a lengthy elliptical sesh. No matter how much water you drink, adding alcohol in the mix can make it difficult to stay properly hydrated.
Dr. Balduzzi tells Elite Daily,
Alcohol is a diuretic. After drinking, your brain releases a series of hormones that tell your kidneys to increase urine production significantly to help the body get rid of the alcohol. If you've ever 'broken the seal' while drinking, you know what I'm talking about.
He explains that, since your kidneys are working “over-time” with your liver to metabolize the alcohol, your body pees out key minerals that play important roles in things like bone health, blood pressure, and more. Losing minerals (and hydration) is sure to negatively impact fitness progress in the long-run.