The Effects of Alcohol

No one wants to be the person who orders a water when all your friends are getting the drinks in, but it’s something we need to strongly consider. Alcohol has a number of effects, several of which are detrimental to our overall health and fitness.

It’s no coincidence that the people who experience the most gains are those who cut alcohol out of their lives completely. If you think of every goal you have set for your health and fitness, alcohol consumption is likely to provide the complete opposite outcome to what you want.

So why is it so detrimental to our health?

I wish I could answer that question in one simple sentence. The truth is that there is a huge list of detrimental impacts caused by consuming alcohol. Now I couldn’t possibly go through them all, but let’s take a look at a few.

Firstly, alcohol is toxic. When our body is subjected to toxic substances it fights to remove that substance. The truth is that when consuming alcohol, acetate becomes present in our bodies. As a result our bodies choose to use the acetate as its fuel source – 100% of the time. So if when you’re having that beer, or that glass of wine, if you’re tucking into some Doritos as well, they’re being stored as fat.

Think of it like this, your body continues to use acetate until it is completely removed from the body. So in the time that is occuring, the carbs, proteins and fats that we consume aren’t being used as a fuel source, and will just be stored as fat.

When we look to lose weight, or in particular sustain a healthy weight, the ultimate aim is to get our bodies to metabolise its own fat. This means that you’ll probably be in a caloric deficit and losing weight. So you might think that you’re in a perfect place – you’ve got a decent nutrition program and you believe your body is metabolising its own fat. Unfortunately, as soon as alcohol is present in the body, this no longer applies.

This presents a problem – if I do have a drink, should I be eating or not?

Well for one, you’ll probably have realised that if you haven’t been eating throughout the day, and then start drinking, you tend to feel more drunk, more quickly. But this doesn’t stop people from doing it of course. The theory there is that you can offset the alcohol by consuming less calories during the day. Unfortunately again, the calories are just one aspect of alcohol that you need to be aware of.

I’m going to be perfectly honest – if you are fully committed to achieving the most you can, then cutting out alcohol should be the first thing you do. Particularly if you’re looking at building large amounts of muscle mass or competing at body building, alcohol should be a big no-no.

However most of you out there will enjoy a drink every now and again, and it’s not the end of the world. Of course I’ll always discourage alcohol consumption, but there are some things you can do.

The first thing you should do is set yourself a limit. If you know you’re going out that evening, set yourself a 3 beer limit, or 3 glasses of wine, or whatever you think is suitable. By having that figure set in your mind you’ll be less likely to binge on drink.

We all know that alcohol dehydrates us – so if you are drinking alcohol, make sure you’re having water regularly before, during and after you drink.

And when it comes to eating? Well you want your body to be metabolising its own fat as much as possible. So don’t worry about justifying alcohol consumption through food deprivation – just make sure you are cautious with your drinking.

A few beers now and again aren’t going to jeopardise all the work you do. But if you use this and then say, ‘oh, a few beers a week is fine’, then you are wrong. You don’t need to cut out alcohol completely to sustain a healthy lifestyle, but as with everything in life, you need to make sure you do it in moderation.

Ollie Lawrence
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