- Alcohol stops fat metabolism
When the body metabolizes alcohol, it first breaks it down into acetylaldehyde and then to acetyl-CoA. Acetyl-CoA is a compound that the body can use to make ATP (the universal source of fuel).
Since the body flags ethanol and acetylaldehyde as toxic, these organic reactions take precedence over all others, thereby shutting down the metabolism of other fuel avenues. This means after you drink alcohol, your body diverts all of its resources to get it out of your system, so it stops processing other forms of energy, storing them for later.
- Alcohol inhibits nutrient absorption
Exercise is a stress. It’s a good stress, but a stress nonetheless and the body needs the ability to recover from this stress if you are going to reap the benefits. Nutrients are essential to your body’s ability to recover and adapt to a good exercise program. Alcohol metabolism inhibits nutrient absorption so that what you are eating doesn’t necessarily make it to the tissues and organs that need to recover. If you are an exercise enthusiast (3 or more sessions weekly) AND moderate alcohol consumer, (1-2 drinks daily for men, 1 drink daily for women) you should be bolstering your recovery with AT LEAST a quality multivitamin, fish oil, and BCAA’s on the days that you choose to have a drink.
- Alcohol dysregulates hormones
Hormones are a buzzword in modern-day fitness theory. And for good reason. Too much insulin makes you fat. Too little testosterone destroys confidence, muscle, and libido. Too much cortisol causes athlerosclerosis. Too little estrogen causes depression and mood swings. This list goes on and on, and in many ways our health, fitness, perceived well-being, energy, and body composition are a product of the natural regulatory response of hormones to our internal and external environment.
Lifting weights, sleeping well, and minimizing sugar intake are well-established ways to positively impact your hormones.
But what about alcohol?
Moderate to high levels of drinking (10 or more drinks per week for men, 7 or more for women) lowers testosterone, increases oestrogen, and elevate cortisol (through poor sleeping patterns). These changes will increase fat mass, decrease muscle mass, increase muscle soreness, and decrease your energy levels, all while rendering you more susceptible to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and overall, feeling like garbage.
- Alcohol may improve immunity, reduce cardiovascular disease, increase life span, and stave of Alzheimer’s
Low to moderate alcohol consumption may actually have several positive effects on fitness. Low to moderate alcohol consumption (particularly red wine) improves immunity and reduces cardiovascular disease (presumably due to high levels of antioxidants) through a reduction in inflammation and elimination of free radicals. Immune system and heart aside, alcohol seems to be beneficial for the mind in small doses. The manageable stress placed on the brain by low to moderate consumption has a similar effect as the stress of exercise on the brain. Low to moderate drinkers are 25% less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimers, according to a study that followed 365,000 for over 20 years!