I love wine and I especially love bubbly. That's a fact. I love to relax on a random Friday night with a glass of Cab, I love to celebrate something with a bit Cava and love cooking while sipping some Riesling.
However, if I need or if I want, I can go without drinking anything with no problem at all. I've had periods in my life when I have been on some sort of detox or clense to clean up my system, and then, alcohol has been kicked out from the menu.
I must admit, I felt great when I gave up all the alcohol: My mind was clearer and I definitely leaned out quite a bit. I also got rid of my brain fog.
Some people, especially in health and fitness world, live like this all the time. They pretty much never touch alcohol. But I do love my wine. I don't want to give up on it and because I'm not trying to lose any weight, I'm not forcing myself to do so.
But let's talk about drinking in a bit larger amounts… Not only a glass here and there, but more than that. What does it actually do to our bodies and how it affects our workouts?
All the Calories
It's no news that alcohol contains a lot of calories. I'm not even talking about sugary mixed drinks that may have more calories than a full meal. I'm talking about a simple glass of wine or beer, that comes with about 120 calories. Two to three glasses a night, when having them too often, will eventually add up and start to show on the waistline.
That's exactly what happened to me when I first came to the US to study here for a year. Oh those long nights out, all the wine and greasy food! I went back home about 20 pounds heavier, despite all the running I did. Alcohol was definitely one of the main things to blame.
If you are trying to figure out why your weight is not coming off, even though your diet and workouts seem to be on point, look at your booze intake. You may not like it, but the fact is that even those two glasses of beer or wine that you have with dinner may be enough to not letting you to lose weight.
Impaired Absorption of Nutrients
Alcohol is foreign for a human body. It's a toxine and causes damage in the cells. Therefore, when alcohol enters the body, the body immediately gets to work hard to get the toxins out of the system.
To do that, our bodies use energy that the would otherwise use for other things, for example, absorbing nutrients. Drinking booze affects especially the absorption of folic acid, zinc and vitamin B. That means that even if we eat great food, we may not get all the benefits of it if we are drinking at the same time.
That's how the body works: First, kick out the bad stuff, then let the good things to absorb.
Dehydration and Muscle Cramps
Drinking makes us to use the bathroom really often… I'm sure you have noticed it and know how annoying it can be. I've realized that especially beer seems to be doing it (that's one of the reasons why I almost never have beer. It's just too much work :)). Also, if you have ever had hangover, you know the insane thirst you probably experience the next day.
It happens because alcohol is diuretic, meaning that it takes the water out of the cells and secretes to the bladder. In order to manage all that fluid, you will need those bathroom trips over and over again.
Together with water, we also lose electrolytes and important minerals. That again may lead to muscle cramps.
Make sure you don't forget to drink water when drinking your booze. It really helps to keep you hydrated.
If you are having a hangover, it's smarter to avoid working out the next day. When drinking, you have lost a lot of water already, and you will lose some more if you are working out and sweating. Take a rest instead, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Doesn't it feel just great when you finally get to hit the sack after a long and booz-y night out? At that point, sleep is all you can think of.
At first, you may fall asleep deeply, but then keep waking up multiple times during the night. The reason is that when alcohol starts to wear off, the body will come out from deep sleep.
When you get up in the morning, you feel far from rested. Sleep is supposed to be the time for the body to restore itself, but alcohol won't let that happen.
If you haven't slept well at night, it's probably smarter to skip the workout. Your coordination, reaction and balance may not be as good as they usually are which means that you are more likely to get injured. Your body is just not ready to tackle another challenge, so give it some rest.
Drinking may also cause digestive issues, especially when drinking to an empty stomach. Alcohol upsets the mucosa of the stomach, which then produces more acid than usually, and causes pain.
If you get upset stomach when drinking, it's worth finding out if you are possibly sensitive to some ingredients found in alcohol. Yeast or grains found in beer or sulfites in wine may cause stomach issues. Gluten free and organic drinks may be better options.
Unstable Blood Sugar Levels
We all know that it's important to keep the blood sugar levels stable. Alcohol causes the blood sugar levels to swing: First, the levels spike up and then drop rapidly. Again, the effect is most noticeable when drinking to an empty stomach.
A bottle of cold beer after a workout may seem like a perfect idea, but be careful. Alcohol absorbs the best right after a workout when you have used up a lot of water and are probably hungry. And it definitely doesn't help with the recovery.
Just like with foods, there should be moderation in drinking as well. I believe that it is possible to drink without doing too much damage to our overall health.
That said, alcohol can cause some negative health effects. It has been shown that some beverages, like red wine, have some health benefits, but I'm sure that it's nothing that your body will miss if you don't drink. Alcohol is definitely not a mandatory part of any diet. If you can go without it, good for you – nutritionwise, you don't miss out on anything.
I'm pretty sure that I will always have my wine here and there, and as long as I'm able to enjoy it in reasonable amounts without ruining my mostly healthy lifestyle and diet, I'm okay.
Do you drink? Why or why not?