Drinking & Fitness: The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body

At the end of a stressful day or when Friday night rolls around the first thing people find themselves wanting to do it reach for a beer or glass of wine.

Your Friday night can easily go over 1000 calories in drinks alone. (Not including late night food, hangover food the next day, and the slowing down of your metabolism.)

  • 1 shot of Jagermeister has 103 calories
  • 12 ounces of Budlight has 110 calories
  • 1 glass (or 5 oz) of Red Wine has 125 calories
  • 1 can of Budweiser has 145 calories

So, what actually happens when we drink alcohol?

Aside from the nutritional disasters associated with drinking, alcohol in your system is detrimental to any kind of fitness activity. Alcohol leads to a slower recovery, increased fat retention, disrupted sleep, & depleted water and nutrients.

Drinking severs the connection from the frontal lobe of the brain to the rear lobe of the brain, which directs our primal instincts of survival and procreation. In effect, it shuts down the activity of the pineal gland, impairing our ability to think clearly and intuitively (which means you make poor nutritional choices or fail to stop at ‘just one drink.’) It also erodes the production of serotonin and oxytocin, which is why the day after drinking alcohol we feel so dreadful.

Slower Recovery

Hard workouts drain the glycogen stores (carbs stored in the liver and muscles) and leave your muscle tissue in need of repair. High levels of alcohol displace the carbs, leaving your stores still 50 percent lower than normal even eight hours later, according to one study.

Packed-On Fat

When boozing, your body prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol over burning fat and carbs. Alcohol also breaks down amino acids and stores them as fat. It also increases levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), which further encourages fat storage, particularly in your tummy area.

Disrupted Sleep

Boozing also blows your muscle recovery and performance by sapping your sleep. In a study of 93 men and women, researchers found that alcohol decreased sleep duration and increased wakefulness, especially in women, whose sleep time was decreased by more than 30 minutes over the night. Disrupting the sleep cycle can reduce your human growth hormone output—which builds muscle—by as much as 70 percent.

Depleted Water & Nutrients

Alcohol irritates the stomach lining, which can reduce your capacity to absorb nutrients (the reason you have an upset stomach after a few too many). Alcohol also causes an increased in urination. As little as 2 percent dehydration hurts endurance performance.

Instead of grabbing a beer, reach for this Piña Colada Protein Shake instead!

5 Comments on Drinking & Fitness: The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body

  1. Patty @ Reach Your Peak
    January 31, 2014 at 4:05 pm (4 years ago)

    great facts! I don’t go out that much, probably 1-2x a month but I definitely feel it the next day. I know a lot of people who do happy hours all the time but they just make me feel like crap afterwards plus they interfere with my evening workouts! 😉

    • Toned & Fit
      February 15, 2014 at 6:08 pm (4 years ago)


      I completely agree! I think it’s just like anything else – When you are constantly eating fast food or drinking, your body is able to tolerate it. When you cut those particular things out, you finally realize how good you CAN feel and when you do indulge, your body protests.


3Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Drinking & Fitness: The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body

  1. […] During prep, I prefer to eat my normal healthy and balanced diet while making simple macro adjustments. I do not cut out carbs or treats. This would lead to a binge/restrict mentality. Instead, I will (within the means of my macros) allow myself treats alongside my increased lean proteins, veggies, and water. Not that I am a big drinker to begin with, but I will be avoiding alcohol during my 12 week prep. Alcohol slows metabolism and recovery. […]

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