The Impact of Alcohol on Health, Performance, and Recovery

You might have encountered this dilemma before: you want to enjoy some drinks with friends, but you’re worried that the alcohol and extra calories might negatively affect your training. It’s difficult to weight the pros and cons in this situation if you aren’t familiar with the ways in which alcohol can affect your body. In this post I’ll cover how alcohol impacts different aspects of your health, athletic performance, and recovery. Hopefully this information can help you to make more informed decisions regarding your drinking habits and behaviors.

Impact of Alcohol on Health

The truth is I can’t tell you exactly how alcohol consumption will impact your health because everyone is different. There are several factors which influence the way alcohol is metabolized in your body including genetics, biological sex, body mass, nutritional status, activity level, and amount/timing of consumption (Barnes, 2014). Here I’ll give you a general overview of the science behind alcohol metabolism and how it affects health.

Hydration

You probably already knew this one, but one of the most noticeable effects of alcohol is its ability to dehydrate you. Normally, a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) helps your body to retain water and keep your cells well-hydrated and functioning properly. However, ethanol, the type of alcohol in drinks, blocks the effects of ADH leading to excess urination and dehydration (Shirreffs and Maughan, 2006).

Wikipedia tells us that strength training, when performed properly, can “provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being.” I call it the “Fountain of Youth.” Train correctly and you can expect bigger and stronger muscles, less fat, better joint function, and reduced potential for injuries of all kinds, as well as greater heart health.

However, to experience the benefits you need to do it the right way! I am a HUGE advocate of making sure you know what you are doing. Today, in no particular order, you will find the “10 Strength Training Mistakes 🏋🏼.” This is NOT only for triathletes and runners, but also for athletes that have been doing strength training for quite some time. And here we go with Dave Letterman’s version of

“Top 10 Strength Training Mistakes 🏋🏼”

10) Comparing Yourself to Others 

This is probably one of the biggest causes of injury in the gym. Whether weightlifting, strength training, or enjoying an aerobic workout, never compare yourself to anyone else. There are always going to be people who are bigger, stronger, and leaner than you are. No two people are identical, and when you start allowing someone else’s superior gene pool, diet, and workout program to affect your attitude and expectation of your personal results, you are headed down a path of endless frustration and injury.

As a triathlete, if you start comparing yourself to other athletes in the pool, the road, and the gym, this could cause injury.  For example, you need to develop and follow your own plan as a triathlete, and be proud of your efforts, because only you know what to expect from yourself. I tell my athletes, leave the EGO at the door!

Jen Rulon - Ironman - 70.3

Here is a conversation that I hear all the time about 70.3 Ironman Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon in Lubbock, TX.

Athlete: When is your next race?

Me: In 1.5 weeks. 70.3 IM in Lubbock.

Athlete: OH MY GOD. You are doing Lubbock?

Me: Yeah. Why not? It’s a great race.

Athlete: It’s hot. It’s hilly. It’s Lubbock.

Me: Oh, have you done that one?

Athlete: No that is what I have heard

Me: So, you have never done Lubbock but you are listening to someone else fears about the course?

In 2001, I wanted to do an Ironman 70.3 and back then, it wasn’t event called Ironman 70.3!  I saw one in Texas. Signed up for it!  Yes, it was Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon. I had NO IDEA of what I was getting into and honestly didn’t know how challenging the course really was. But, I knew I wanted to do a half Ironman before my full Ironman (IM-WI in September 2002).  I chatted with my coach at the time and we discussed things about Lubbock:

What I knew about Ironman 70.3 in Lubbock:

Skip to toolbar