Can I drink and still make good progress in the gym?

Diet can be one thing that really affects your training progress, have a read here. Alcohol can be another!

We all work hard Monday to Friday and when Friday comes along that Friday feeling hits! One drink turns to ten and we wake up with our face plopped in a kebab and a very foggy head.

Not only did I get that Friday feeling, my best man was over all the way from England last Saturday. I haven’t had more than a couple of drinks since new year so when Sunday morning hit I was a write off. Then when Monday came and work called, I was still a write off. I thought I would hit the gym and sweat it all out – it wasn’t pretty! Alcohol massively impacts our strength, recovery and will hinder your progress. Here’s why…

  1. Alcohol reduces sleep quality – I was surprised to read this. I can sleep anywhere when drunk! Reduced sleep quality reduces alertness and increases fatigue. Meaning those workouts on a Monday are going to be much more tiring!
  2. Alcohol is a diuretic and therefore leads to dehydration! – This is definitely the case for me, I don’t know about you but when I ‘break the seal’ I am going every 5 minutes. Dehydration reduces endurance and performance substantially. In fact your work capacity can drop by up to 30% depending on the level of dehydration
  3. There is a possible increased risk of injury due to reduced alertness and dehydration
  4. Alcohol negatively impacts muscle growth and repair. If you are looking to build size then stay off the drink.
  5. Alcohol can affect our food intake and increase weight gain – you know that kebab that you woke up with your face lying in. Not only are we taking in extra calories as alcohol BUT possibly extra unwanted calories with our end of night feast.

So let’s put it bluntly. If you drink regularly you cannot expect to perform optimally and you certainly cannot expect to make the fat loss, strength gains, increase in mass that you want.

However, there is good news…

And a here’s a few tips to help you to keep making progress even when you do have the odd splurge

  • Avoid drinking mixers or drinks high in sugar. The alcohol will mean the body stores the sugar as fat – so go hit the whiskey on the rocks! Or even better gin or vodka. Clear alcoholic drinks have less impurities.
  • Try and recover/rehydrate as quickly as possible:
    1. Drink a couple of glasses of water before bed
    2. Leave some water by your bed for when you wake up
    3. Drink water constantly throughout the dreaded day after
    4. Coconut water is full of natural electrolytes and great to help rehydrate
  • If you are counting macro’s account for the alcohol for that day when planning your meals.
  • Get straight back to your regular diet/regime the next day – I always crave a pizza or something the day after! Time to build some will power!
  • If you are going to crave food at the end of the night, make something healthy to eat for when you get home. Don’t make it when you get home, I don’t want you burning your house down!
  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach and eat a meal containing protein, fats, and carbs before heading out. The food will slow down the body’s absorption of the alcohol.

What are your hangover cures? How do you rehydrate and recover the next day?

I probably should finish by saying – please drink responsibly…

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