8 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Workout

It’s common knowledge that alcohol takes a major toll on your body, but have you ever considered exactly what that means? Even if you’re able to get yourself to the gym the next day, one night out can have a significant impact on your performance. These eight gifs illustrate what happens within your body when you drink.

  1. Poor motor skills

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    Even if your BAC returns to 0, you’ll experience a decrease in reaction time, decision making, focus, coordination, accuracy, stamina, strength, and speed for up to 72 hours after heavy drinking. So, essentially, everything that helps you perform better.
  2. Higher injury risk

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    With your motor skills not at their best and your head not completely in the game, you risk doing some serious damage to your body. According to UW Performance Nutrition, heavy drinking increases risk of injury during workouts by 33.1%.
  3. No gains

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    Research has shown that alcohol intake can cause a major setback in muscle growth and reaching fitness goals. It’s like you didn’t even work out (kind of like how it feels when you forget your fitness tracker).
  4. Impaired recovery

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    Since alcohol is metabolized before any nutrient you take in, that means muscles don’t get the carbohydrates, protein, and fat needed to recover. In turn, this slows the body’s ability to heal and repair, which is why you may temporarily feel like you’re dying.
  5. Lack of energy

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    Alcohol impairs the absorption of nutrients and vitamins from food. It also decreases the body’s ability to produce and store energy in muscles by 33%. With a loss of endurance of 11.4%, forget about going the “extra mile.” It can be tough enough just to get started.
  6. Diminished hydration

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    Wondering why you’re constantly thirsty the day after drinking? Alcohol is a diuretic that causes dehydration, leading to greater risk of cramping, pulled muscles, and strains. It’s challenging enough to keep yourself properly hydrated during a workout, and alcohol adds another layer to that.
  7. Interrupted sleep

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    Alcohol intake disturbs the sleep cycle, specifically the REM cycle, which is necessary for recovery and memory. Even if you allow yourself plenty of time to catch some zzz’s, you likely won’t feel fully rested.
  8. Poor memory and learning  

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    You may notice feeling a bit fuzzy after heavy drinking. Alcohol decreases the brain’s ability to learn and remember information, skills, plays, drills, etc., putting you at a disadvantage and giving you some Michael Scott cluelessness.

What you decide to put into your body plays a big role in what you’ll get out of it. The next time you go to pour yourself a drink, take time to think about the effects alcohol can have on your body not only during a tailgate or a night out, but in the days following. Try UHS’s eCheckup to learn more about your drinking habits and find out about resources available to you on campus