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Is Booze Giving Your Workout a Hangover?

Okay, so we know that drinking may have a positive effect on longevity. But how is it impacting your workout and your results? Spoiler alert: It’s mostly not good.

First things first, alcohol is packed with useless calories. Alcohol contains a sobering 7 calories per gram – compared to 4 calories per gram with protein and carbs, and 9 calories per gram with fat. But the problem isn’t just with the calories. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that less than 5% of alcohol calories are stored as fat. But the same researchers also discovered that for several hours during and after drinking, “whole-body lipid oxidation” (i.e., your body’s ability to burn fat) was reduced by 73%. That’s where the beer/alcohol gut comes from.

In addition to oxidation, alcohol can negatively affect protein synthesis, ATP output, testosterone and quality of sleep. All of these things can be moderate obstacles in your quest to realize your fitness goal. Frequent drinking can be like taking two steps forward and then one step back.

Many people enjoy the liberation caused by drinking. Indeed, it diminishes control and contributes to loss of judgment. But that same loss of judgment often finds its way into food choices. Research shows that drinking while eating causes people to consume more food calories than when they’re not drinking. According to one study:

When a group of men were given a meal and allowed to eat as much as they wanted, they ate more when the meal was served with beer or wine rather than a soft drink.

But it’s not all bad news. Certain grapes used in red wine production are rich in antioxidants. And some research suggests that healthy, active people who drink moderately are 30% less likely to develop heart disease than nondrinkers. There is also research to suggest that drinking moderately can lower blood pressure and lower the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly.

The bottom line: If you do drink, do it occasionally (i.e., not every night) and moderately (i.e., not until you pass out with your face on the toilet) to minimize the negative effects and maximize the positive ones.

Are the health impacts of heavy or abusive alcohol consumption enough to keep your binge drinking to a minimum? Let us know in the comments below!