KB Reader question: What effect does alcohol have on the body of an athlete? Is it bad to drink a beer or two right after a cardio workout? Are some forms of booze (wine and beer) “better” for you than others (hard liquor)? What about that Japanese favorite, sake?
Alcohol has long been a discussion topic in the martial arts. After all, the adult beverage is a staple in many of the countries and cultures in which the arts were born.
Ethanol—the form of alcohol we drink—is the intoxicating ingredient of beer, wine, rice wine (sake) and hard liquor. In modern society, moderate consumption is defined as a woman having one drink a day or a man having one or two a day. For either gender, the body absorbs the alcohol more quickly than it does food. Why do we imbibe? Because drinking dulls our senses and subdues our higher cognitive functions.
QUICK NOTE- to stay on track, try to make this your ‘Happy Hour’ Mon-Friday, leaving your drinks to a 2x a week outing! Its the PERFECT KB Body compromise …
umerous side effects are associated with drinking, and they last much longer than the buzz—which is why most athletes, including competitive martial artists and fighters, abstain while training for big events. First, muscle tissue doesnʼt grow as well in the presence of alcohol. In males, specifically, it inhibits testosterone production.
For men and women, drinking is not recommended during post-exercise recovery. Your body views alcohol as a toxin, which is why your liver labors to process it. That means fewer internal resources are available for tissue repair—recall that exercise breaks down muscle tissue so it can grow back stronger. With alcohol in your system, you wonʼt realize maximum benefit from your workouts, and youʼre more susceptible to injury in future workouts.
Another drawback involves calories. Alcohol is a source of “empty calories,” which means it has virtually no nutritional value. If you need to lose weight or hit a certain number at a weigh-in, that could spell trouble.
The KBBody plan outlines a specific nutritional prescription. This is vital when it comes to you drinking. Follow closely the Energy In vs. Energy Out concept- if you follow it you will be able to factor wine and other alcohol into your diet successfully, with out weight gain. HOWEVER factoring too much alcohol is a poor habit, you might not gain weight if you account for the correct caloric balance (as is outline in the KB Body Series Program and Book) BUT if you use your ‘Energy In’ calories up on poor quality foods and drinks you will NOT develop strong, lean tissue.
Drinking is okay, but systematic drinking is not. A glass of wine is okay if you do not have substance issues, dependency and if you are of age, however systematic drinking and over-drinking is a clear indicator of poor health and a lack of discipline.
Is having a glass of red wine a night okay? For many people it is perfectly fine, but they are NOT dependent on it. They drink it because they want to, but if there was no wine there would be no withdrawal. If you are dependent on any food or drink- cut it out for a bit. Dependency breads weakness and stress in your life. But, if you simply enjoy it, like it, look forward to it- that is fine! BUT having two, three or more glasses of wine, sake, alcohol every single day is not advised. You will not gain strong tissue and lean muscle mass drinking at sure a high daily quantity. One night a week having several glasses when out with friends is fine! But you should maintain activity through out that day, and never make such accessive behavior a daily process.
If you choose to drink, it pays to consider the timing. After a night of boozing, youʼll have less energy and strength the next day, not to mention a greater potential for dehydration. That combination makes you more likely to suffer an injury in a hard workout, so plan accordingly—especially if youʼre going to be slinging weights or weapons around.
If you elect to drink after you train, you can expect different side effects, depending on the type of athlete you are. Marathon runners and triathletes sometimes down a beer after a long training session. Why? Because itʼs full of recovery nutrients like magnesium, potassium and calcium. At the end of major races, you often see beer tables. Before you sidle up to the bar for a cold one, know that unless youʼre an endurance athlete whoʼs run hard for more than 90 minutes, beer is not the ideal recovery tool. After a moderate workout, a brew will suppress fat burning and possibly increase your craving for sweets.
If youʼre serious about your KB Body, your strength gains, your weight-loss or a specific sport (like martial arts for example) I would recommend keeping an eye on how often and how much you drink alcohol. It is okay to still want to drink socially, but you should devote some thought to what goes down the hatch. Wine is the healthiest option, with red wine being less sugary than white. Red wine, in moderation, is termed “heart healthy” because the antioxidants it contains may help prevent heart disease and increase the levels of good cholesterol.
Sake and hard liquor (vodka, rum, gin, tequila, etc.) may not be as healthy as wine, but theyʼre better than imbibing sugar-laced cocktails. If you want to spruce up your alcohol before sipping, use club soda, which doesnʼt contain sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
My final bit of advice: Strive for moderation in all things. Overindulgence in alcohol has been linked to increased risk of weight gain, cancer, liver disease and other health issues. On the other hand, having a drink or two on your day off is not a big deal—especially if youʼre a noncompetitive martial artist who has an occasional glass of wine to reduce stress.
XoKb- Dasha, MS, NASM-PES, NASE, MKC
XoKb- Dasha, MS, NASM-PES, NASE, MKC