We all love a cold bottle of beer or even a glass of wine. Many of us enjoy cracking open a cold one with the boys every once in a while. Nonetheless, some of us are probably taking more alcohol than our body can handle.
If you’re trying to shed some weight or work on those abs, then you are about to find out what an excess in alcoholic drinks can do to those fitness goals. Read on to learn more on the general effect of having alcoholic substances in your system and why you do not want to be consuming too much alcohol if you want to stay fit.
Alcohol In Your System
It is important at this point to explain what happens to alcohol when it enters the body and the effects it can carry. This will help you understand how alcohol is metabolized in the body, how it’s absorbed, and how the body excretes it.
When you drink alcohol, it passes through the digestive system. This means about 20% of it is absorbed into the body through the stomach. Meanwhile, the remaining 80% is absorbed through the small intestine. Then, it reaches the liver where enzymes metabolize it to form a byproduct known as acetate.
Acetate is very toxic to the body. Thus, the liver prioritizes its digestion above everything else. This then means the body’s main aim is to excrete the toxic acetate to prevent its accumulation. As such, the digestion of fat, protein, and carbohydrates is halted until the alcohol is cleared from the system.
The end product of this digestion is excreted by the kidneys and passed in the urine. Once alcohol enters your bloodstream, it distributes quickly to every organ in your body. Within a few minutes, the alcohol reaches the brain where it slows down cognitive functioning, causes changes in your judgmental abilities, affects your mood, and changes the way you respond to stimuli.
But what about the specific effects of alcohol on your health?
How Alcohol Affects Your Health
Alcohol has often been associated with several diseases and deficiencies. Let’s look at the general effects of alcohol on health.
Alcohol isn’t always seen as bad for the health. In fact, a small amount of alcohol has been shown to help improve insulin function and promote cardiovascular health. This is on top of being able to boost the immune system as well.
Despite the above-mentioned, however, it’s important to emphasize that one doesn’t need to be consuming a lot of alcoholic beverages to maintain a healthy body.
Metabolic Nature Of Alcohol
The body always metabolizes alcohol and excretes the resulting acetate before it pays attention to anything else. Therefore, when you drink alcohol, the metabolism of fat, carbs, and protein is halted until alcohol is cleared from your system.
Such alcohol intake can result in an increase in appetite, more food intake, and an increase in positive fat balance. The accumulated fat is then deposited in the abdominal area. In other words, all the aforementioned results can lead to weight gain.
A glass of alcohol a day isn’t harmful. But if the habit becomes more frequent and makes it difficult to stop drinking, then you need to watch yourself and practice self-control. Excessive and prolonged alcohol intake is a cause for concern because it is very damaging to your overall health.
Additionally, when it comes to the digestive and endocrine system, alcohol slows down the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Consuming too much alcohol is one way to put on some unhealthy weight. An unhealthy increase in appetite also takes place as an effect of excessive drinking.
Link Between Alcohol And Cancer
Excessive drinking can also damage your digestive tract. Digestive tract ulcers and hemorrhoids are common in people who drink excessively. They may also be at risk of cancers.
Moreover, excessive drinking also causes the abnormal activation of digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas, which may build up and cause inflammation of the pancreas or pancreatitis. But how else does an excessive intake of alcoholic drinks affect one’s body?
- Liver Damage
- Long term alcohol use damages the liver and interferes with its function of clearing toxic substances from the body. It also increases the risk of inflammation and scarring of the liver (cirrhosis).
- Central Nervous System
- Long-term alcohol use interferes with the brain’s ability to communicate with the body, leading to a loss of coordination, slurred speech, and loss of balance.
- A person may begin to experience tingling sensations and numbness of the hands and feet with excessive alcohol intake. Alcohol abuse can affect long term memory and your ability to think clearly and make rational decisions as well.
A very common occurrence amongst heavy drinkers is dependency or addiction to alcohol. When an alcoholic gets to a point wherein he/she doesn’t have access to alcoholic substances, he/she can begin to experience withdrawal symptoms like restlessness, anxiety, high blood pressure, tremors, and sometimes seizures and hallucinations.
Effect Of Alcohol On Fitness
If you’re working on shedding some weight or staying fit, then one thing you might have heard is that alcohol can hinder your fitness goals.
Nobody is saying you should completely keep the drinks away. Nevertheless, it can help to keep your indulgences to a healthy limit. Alcoholic drinks should be consumed in minimal quantities if you want to maintain a certain level of physical fitness. Moreover, several research results have proven that there is a link between a decrease in alcohol intake and better fitness. Thus, maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires limiting or even abstaining from drinking alcoholic drinks in the long run.
What Alcohol Does To The Body
Here are some effects you should consider when it comes to alcohol and your fitness goals:
Alcohol Halts Fat Metabolism
Just as we have said earlier, the body labels alcohol as a toxic substance. So, its metabolism is considered first before any other’s. This means that when you hit the bar frequently, you might not be burning fat even if you do visit the gym regularly.
Alcohol Causes Abnormal Hormonal Changes
Hormonal imbalances can affect your health and fitness plans negatively. High levels of alcohol lower your testosterone levels and increase your stress hormone (cortisol) levels.
Additionally, too much alcoholic beverages can cause insulin resistance, thereby increasing your blood sugar levels. These changes will decrease your muscle mass, increase fat mass, decrease energy levels, and render you more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and depression.
Alcohol Inhibits Nutrient Absorption
Your body always needs to recover from the stress of the exercises you do to stay fit. To do that, it absorbs nutrients fast. Alcohol consumption can be detrimental to this, as it inhibits nutrients absorption. An excess in alcohol consumption can lead to a delay in your body’s healing process, as nutrients are not being absorbed properly by the tissues and organs that need them.
Alcohol Slows Down Performance
Most sportsmen avoid alcohol because of the way it slows down their cognitive functions, their reaction time, and their speed. This applies to anyone with a regular workout routine or even those who spend a lot of their spare time in the gym.
Sports and workouts require attention, energy, stamina, quick reaction time, and good cognitive functions. Since alcohol is a central nervous depressant, it can therefore slow you down and make you less active. It impairs your ability to function at your highest level, making you end a game or workout earlier than usual.
Simply put, alcohol can hinder both your fitness goals and fitness progress significantly. It is thus advised that you keep alcohol intake to the barest minimum. However, if complete abstinence from alcohol isn’t feasible for your fitness journey, then prepare to support your body using supplements to avoid malnutrition. Prepare yourself for noticeably slower results as well, since alcohol can significantly slow down your progress.
Reversing Alcoholism With Exercise
Alcoholic drinks can be detrimental to your health. But rest assured, having a fitness regimen does a great job in controlling your intake and putting a halt to alcoholism. Studies show that the more you exercise, the less you tend to drink. Why is that so?
Exercising helps pump up your blood and improves your circulation. This leads to the release of natural hormones like dopamine, which makes you feel good and relaxed. In effect, this can prevent you from seeking alcoholic drinks when you need to deal with stress and other negative emotions.
Working out is thus a great stress reliever. It leaves more lasting, positive effects than drinking. Instead of reaching for a bottle of beer, opt to go for a run instead to help clear your mind during times of stress. Your body will thank you later on for taking the more responsible route.
Drinking At Social Gatherings
There may be times when you’re expected to drink at certain social gatherings. After all, drinking isn’t always about the act itself, but rather a way of connecting with friends and family. It can be an avenue for sharing and enjoying special moments. In this case, some people may avoid socializing altogether in an effort to avoid drinking.
It is advised that when you do need to drink, you should moderate your intake. Most importantly, know when you’ll be drinking so you can properly adjust your diet, which might involve consuming more protein. Stick to drinks with fewer calories like white wine or clear spirits in case you find yourself in a situation that calls for imperative social drinking.
Make sure to avoid binging on alcoholic drinks. One night of excessive drinking can make a big negative impact on two days’ worth of fitness goals, so be careful. Do not drink at all if you don’t think you’re capable of stopping after a few glasses.
While trying to stay fit, don’t forget the changes required with regard to your eating and drinking patterns. Cutting down on your consumption of alcoholic drinks is necessary for you to stay fit. If you find it difficult to control how much alcoholic beverages you consume, then perhaps you should steer clear of them altogether and see a doctor for expert care.
Since exercise and staying fit is essential to mitigating the effects of long-term alcohol use, why not consider purchasing a workout station or some other exercise tool? Having access to exercise equipment can greatly assist in maintaining your physical well-being, so it won’t hurt looking into some gym memberships or at-home equipment when you can.
Alcoholism has a lot of negative effects on your day to day activities as well as on your fitness plans. It would be difficult to reach a reasonable level of fitness if you cannot control your alcohol intake. But worry not, as overcoming such a problem is possible so long as you maintain the right amount of exercise, a positive mentality, and seek some professional guidance when necessary.