If you’re like me you have had your fair share of alcoholic beverages. So many, that you’re starting to wonder about the actual effect it has on your training, recovery and progression. I am here to shed some light on the topic.
For some background information, I’ll let you in on some of my alcoholic experiences.
Growing up from about 18 – 25 I drank a substantial amount of alcohol. For example; from hump day Wednesday sessions following through to Sunday sessions. It was ridiculous. I drank for a few reasons (some subconsciously some consciously).
- I enjoyed the taste of a cold beer on a hot day.
- Red wine complimented my pasta.
- Espresso martinis. Enough said.
- I enjoyed feeling numb, nothing-ness after a ‘long week’.
- It gave me wild confidence.
- I thought it was the ‘cool’ thing to do.
- I drank because everyone else was and if I didn’t I would get some backlash.
- Sometimes drinking would fill the void on some things that I didn’t enjoy in my sober life.
- I did it to fit in.
Then from about 25, I really started to think about whether these reasons for drinking where actually ok. I had definitely had these thoughts previously but I was so ‘accustomed’ to doing what I’d been doing for so many years. It was a hard habit to change.
In 2018 while I was studying my Master Trainer, I remember I was walking Ziggy who I walked every morning before I got on the train at Mandurah to head up to Perth to go to class at The Australian Institute of Fitness. I would listen to podcasts about health, wellness, spirituality and everything in between. I remember it was a warm day and the gardens were so green where I lived and they where just so nice to walk around as there was usually no one else around at that time of the morning. I was listening to a podcast and they spoke about some of my reasons I enjoyed drinking and the effects of alcohol to the body and the mind. It confirmed that I just did not want to drink nearly as much as I had previously. I made a conscious decision to drink less and to ensure that my reason for drinking was for enjoyment. Do not get me wrong, I have STILL had massive nights/days drinking but they were for ‘special’ occasions. Also, as of today, I haven’t drank for 11 months (13 days until 12 months) and I feel so much better for it. I have been through all the motions of whether to drink or not and I think I will, but we will just have to wait and see.
Since listening to that podcast, I realised I wasn’t the only one drinking for some of the wrong reasons. I knew that I could be more, do more and achieve more without it. Since learning about alcohol during my studies too, it has confirmed that a little bit less alcohol in our systems is ideal.
the effects of alcohol to our sleep, training + recovery.
Some think they sleep better after a few beers. But did you wake up feeling fresh? The answer is probably no. OR you’re a seasoned drinker and your body has found a new homeostasis and it’s your new normal. Our bodies are very smart at adapting to find a new equilibrium.
When we drink, we may fall asleep faster because potentially you’re thought processing is switched off so your wild thoughts aren’t keeping you awake at night, so you’re able to fall asleep. But what happens while we sleep is that your body isn’t able to get into its deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycling. These REM moments allow your body to completely rest and recover so you wake feeling refreshed.
Waking up feeling fresh allows you to reach for the healthier food choices (because you aren’t needing the sugar hit for energy) and you’re able to perform a good workout (because you have all the energy you need).
drinking alcohol after a workout.
Drinking wildly after a big workout because we ‘deserve’ it (I’ve been there before and I am not judging if you do this). Then the next morning you wake up more sore than ever and really it wasn’t that big of a workout to make you hobble around the house for the entire day. The reason you’re so sore after a big night out is because alcohol is (simply put) poisoning your body, your body stops recovering your muscles and works to flush the toxins out. Which this stops your normal metabolic process of using your stored energy (previous meals your consumed) as energy to burn, it’s working to get the alcohol out fast.
There is also some research that shows that good quality alcohol consumed in moderate amounts have some benefits. Just don’t let that be the reason you actually drink. That’d be slightly silly and you can get those ‘good things’ like polyphenols from berries, artichoke, chicory, some tea and many other foods.
My overall conclusion is that if you are going to drink alcohol, it’s probably best to have good quality over quantity and drink for the right reasons.
I am one to get into the science and really dive into the research that has been done so I have put some links below if you’re interested to dive a little deeper. Is anyone else like this (super nerd like)? I would love for you to reach out to me on Instagram and let me know.
Until next week,
Sending lots of love + peace
Teags Lee x