To drink or not to drink?
The other day I had an interesting conversation about alcohol and it’s effects on our training and recovery. With the holiday season in full swing (and our own holiday party THIS week) I thought it was a good time to share some of that info.
This particular subject goes very deep and could be mined in many different directions, so today I want to keep it relatively focused and specific. It came up in relation to acquiring new skills while trying to overcome plateaus in training and/or weight loss.
With so many holiday meals and events happening in the last quarter of the year, temptation will be everywhere. Not just at social events, but we also tend to spend more time indoors and less active as the weather becomes less than inviting.
Now just to be clear, this isn’t where I’m going to tell you no drinking alcohol. For many people that may not be realistic, and for others it may just not be much fun!
The first thing to consider is what your priorities are. We must always remember that our priorities are not what we say they are…our priorities are what we actually do.
What this means is that if you say you priority is to cut fat and build lean tissue, and you eat really well and exercise 5 days a week- but on the weekends you indulge, have a “cheat day” and/or drinks…well, then maybe loosing weight & building muscle isn’t actually your priority.
…and again, I’d like to reiterate- that’s ok!
Sometimes our priority is to not have to be constantly tracking food, adhering to a strict nutrition profile, and abstaining from alcohol. We may value the social interactions that include those things over the abs or PR that we say we want.
So,that being said, let me offer to you three reasons why you should cut alcohol IF you want to make that a priority for you:
Reason 1- Hydration:
Our muscles and bodies are only getting stronger, leaner and better when they are at rest and recovering. A vital part of those functions is proper hydration. Even a 1-2% decrease in hydration can mean a 10-15% decrease in performance!
Alcohol consumption will dehydrate you, starve your muscles, and fatigue you.
Pro-tip:If you’re going to drink, have a glass of water between each one, and drink a glass of water before bed.
Reason 2- Sleep:
Building on my last point, we need to sleep to get the rest necessary to restore & rebuild our bodies. Less than 6 hours a night means no CrossFit at all. Your body actually burns a ton of calories while you sleep, and deep regenerative sleep is essential to recovery from any form of intense activity.
Alcohol consumption causes multiple sleep disturbances, and while you may be “knocked out” it isn’t a high quality sleep.
Pro-tip: Try and stop drinking at least two hours before bedtime, and refer to ‘reason 1’ for additional support.
Reason 3- Nutrition:
Your liver processes any alcohol you drink, but also many of the nutrients you take in from the food you drink, as well as regulating your hormones and hunger. Even when eating a healthy diet, your liver will always process the poison (alcohol) first.
Alcohol consumption means all the great nutrients from the food you’re eating may never have a chance to be utilized properly since your liver is pre-occupied processing the booze first.
Pro-tip: Eat first and give your food some time to digest, and then consume any alcohol moderately. Also, refer to ‘reason 1’ again.
So there you go. I’m just sharing a little info, I’m not here to preach. If you enjoy your alcohol and the holidays are a care free time for you to enjoy social gatherings & family time and all of the traditions that are included with it? Please enjoy fully- it’s the season!
If you have been questioning some of your progress, want to try to take things up a notch, or tighten up the belt a little bit, then I invite you to consider some of the above points and give it a shot.
As always, I’m available any time for support and to answer questions- firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great week!