Sugar spikes and efficiency decline: how alcohol affects training

Sugar spikes and efficiency decline: how alcohol affects training

After the long New Year holidays, many decide to give up alcohol for a while. This will not only have a good effect on your overall well-being, but will also allow you to get even more benefits from each workout, writes British Vogue.


“Alcohol, as a diuretic, removes fluid from the body,” says Caroline Wilson, nutritionist for health food brand Kitchenistic. She adds that 90% of hangover symptoms are a direct result of dehydration. Water keeps the body in healthy working condition and also helps regulate its temperature. Therefore, when you are dehydrated, it is harder to exercise than usual.

“If you have alcohol in your system, your heart rate will increase faster than normal and your body temperature will rise significantly, making exercise uncomfortable,” says the nutritionist. “You will also sweat more than you are used to, which will lead to even more dehydration.”

Dehydration can be alleviated by alternating an alcoholic drink with water.

Muscle fatigue

Lactic acid can cause cramps. It accumulates when we drink alcohol, which means that muscle soreness is more likely to occur during exercise (after a hangover).

“The inevitable consequences of drinking alcohol are muscle fatigue and a lack of growth hormones, which are vital for both muscle building and recovery,” says the nutritionist. “If you drink constantly, your post-workout recovery time will be long and it will be very difficult to build muscle in general.”

Decreased performance

Minimal alcohol consumption may not affect how you exercise, but it definitely affects your performance during exercise. The study found that a hangover the next day could reduce scores by 11%.

Download sugar

“Typically, alcohol contains sugar, which, when combined with food containing a high glycemic load, quickly turns into glucose (after complete digestion),” explains Caroline Wilson. A sudden spike and sharp drop in blood sugar indicates that the body is suffering from inflammation, which can lead to water retention, bloating and fatigue. As a result, the workout will be harder than usual. You should avoid wines, cocktails or drinks with syrups if you plan to exercise afterwards.

Metabolic slowdown

When drinking alcohol, your metabolism decreases due to stress, which makes your stomach and intestines lazy. “As digestive secretions are weakened, the rate at which the body absorbs essential nutrients also decreases, resulting in a slower metabolism,” explains Wilson. Before drinking alcohol, a nutritionist recommends choosing foods high in nutrients, such as nuts and dark green vegetables, to help the digestive system.

Unhealthy appetite

The day after an alcoholic party, there is often a strong desire to eat something fatty and fried. “Alcohol stimulates the release of a chemical in the brain called galanin, which makes us crave foods rich in fat,” Wilson notes. Eating low-nutrient foods while feeling lethargic means that the body will not be properly fueled with energy and exercise will be difficult.