How does alcohol effect sports performance?

So, I am breaking two rules today…the first, don’t talk about something you are not 100% certain about. The second, try to stop writing date dependant blogs. But today is St. Patrick’s day, and what better than to celebrate with a pint of the famous black stuff…

 Happy St. Patrick’s day ?

So, how does alcohol intake effect sports performance, particularly endurance sport?

Firstly, the honest answer, I don’t fully know the response to that one. I have not studied the literature in any depth, but my thoughts are as follows:

1) If we treat alcohol as a food… IMHO there are no good or bad foods. That said, all foods should be consumed in moderation, and anything in excess is bad. So from the same stance, a moderate amount of alcohol is not a bad thing. (That said, I generally don’t drink, other than consuming large quantities of good Champagne at special occasions). The question would be in relation to alcohol what is considered moderation.

2) If used wisely, and not to excess, I think it can be a great stress buster and relaxant for some…but not all….and it can be easy to slip from 1 or 2 glasses as a relaxant, to polishing off a bottle, and then intakes go up.

3) Generally, in excess, not a great idea. We all know the stories of guys knocking back vast quantities and exercising well the following day. I find these stories happen far more infrequently as we get older. The real question here….would the individual have gone even better if they didn’t have alcohol related dehydration, or a raging headache.

4) I know of one study undertaken at an academic and national sporting institute where post exercise alcohol consumption (to a large quantity) actually didn’t impact on athlete recovery of glycogen stores. Surprising, the institute decided not to publish this data!

5) The main consideration for most of the athletes I would work with regarding alcohol intake, is in reducing empty calories, and therefore making it easier to achieve a race weight. So again, if anything, moderation is advised.

6) None of us are pros and this is just a hobby.
Life is about finding the balance between family, career and self development. (Thanks to Upps for this one – he does continue, but for various reasons I omitted the additional remarks. [smile])

So happy St. Patrick’s day, and enjoy the glass (or two) of the black stuff!

Garry