CrossFit South Rockland

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alcohol Will Make You Suck!

If you’ve been doing CrossFit for any significant amount of time and you are stuck on something like not being able to do a pullup, always complaining about being sore, not “leaning out” or feel like you’re getting weaker…it most likely is a problem with your nutrition, alcohol intake, & sleep.

Today we’re going to talk about alcohol. Research overwhelmingly suggests that alcohol use and athleticism do not go hand in hand. Although it might not be realistic for some of you to quit drinking altogether – if you want to thrive in the athletic environment you should take steps to limit and eventually eliminate it because…

Alcohol can cause severe dehydration and huge electrolyte imbalances. After only one night of long drinking, it can take several days to a week for full recovery. While dehydrated, you are greater risk for many injuries including: cramps, muscle pulls, and muscle strains. Also, dehydration can lead to severe brain impairment and even death when coupled with extreme temperatures and intense practices. Dehydration also leads to muscle loss – muscle which you are working so hard to gain.

Alcohol, when consumed in amounts typical with most college aged drinkers, will dramatically decrease testosterone levels. Less testosterone = less aggressiveness in workouts, loss of motivation, weakness, & once again muscle loss. Your balls will shrink and the quantity & quality of your sperm will decrease. Ladies, don’t think you’re off the hook…for you it increases the amount of of estradial – which increases your risk for breast cancer.

Aside from messing with your coordination, endurance, & judgement (not just when you’re drunk, but afterwards too). Alcohol also interferes with lactic acid breakdown, which means you stay sore longer.

So, here’s the deal on alcohol & “leaning out for the summer”… Aside from taking in over 1,000 calories on a conservative night of drinking…alcohol is stored much like fat in the body.

More importantly alcohol destroys amino acids and stores them as fat. Yeah that’s pretty messed up… it actually drinking actually converts protein to fat.

The most commonly used energy pathway – the glycolytic pathway is the most severely impaired and will cause you to be lacking in energy, recovery, & increased soreness.

You need sleep to recover. If you do not get quality sleep and enough of it – your body will store fat as a defensive mechanism. Even though it seems that alcohol might help you “fall asleep”, it affects the quality of your sleep.

It will disrupt and fragment two stages of your sleep, where your body produces the most human growth hormone.

Bottom line is that if you’re not getting enough sleep – your body will not recover, you won’t grow stronger, and your energy levels, mood, & performance will suffer.

CrossFit Journal
University of San Diego Intercollegiate Athletics

I’m not going to preach to you and tell you that drinking is “bad” and you shouldn’t do it at all. Hell, who doesn’t like to have a cold beer or a nice glass of wine every now and then? However, you’ve gotta realize what drinking does to your body, performance, and ultimately health.

Personally, I’ve completely eliminated drinking for the past 6 months and it has been the best decision I’ve made for my athletic performance. (I did drink 2 beers to celebrate placing in the Tough Mudder competition a few weeks ago, but I HIGHLY regret it as it took me over 2 weeks to fully recover from the race and alcohol afterwards). I’m sleeping better, feeling sharper during the day, past an athletic speed bump I encountered, and have the energy & motivation to be the “workaholic” some people might say I am.

Ultimately, the decision is yours – you know the facts. This has been my personal testimony and I hope it encourages you to make changes.

If not, don’t come whining to me on why you’re getting weaker – it’s not our programming – it’s YOU.

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