Weighing in on Alcohol

Alcohol is a big, super fun part of our social engagements/lives. However, drinking in excess can lead to serious health issues, such as nutrient deficiency and weight gain. Watch and learn about my personal experience, and why it is important to enjoy alcohol in moderation.

 

To elaborate on the harmful effects of alcohol when consumed in excess--

A number of important functions, like protein synthesis, are inhibited. Even short term alcohol abuse can affect muscle repair and growth (if you want to see gains in the gym, this is especially important).

If you've experienced an epic hangover, you probably noticed that your sleep was pretty crappy. This is because our sleep patterns are impacted by alcohol, and this can have a negative effect on Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which plays an important role in muscle repair. Alcohol can decrease HGH secretion by as much as 70%!

Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic (like coffee and other caffeinated beverages). Which means it dehydrates you. If you think that cup of coffee in the morning is going to cure you...think again. Yep, you're just dehydrating yourself even more. Coffee is not a substitute for water.

Which brings me to...fluid balance. Fluid imbalance in muscles can hamper their ability to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is our body's energy source (makes our muscles contract). Loss of ATP = decrease in physical endurance. To rehydrate we need both water and electrolytes.

Excessive drinking also impairs function of the hippocampus of our brain, which is vital to the foundation of memories.  If you can't form new memories, you can't learn and store new information.

The impact on nutrition is most notable-- alcohol has 7 kcals per-gram (carbohydrates have 4/g, protein has 4/g and fat has 9/g). The reason this is important is because that is all alcohol provides our body-- calories. But in the form of an energy we can't use. Alcohol can't be converted into glycogen, which is our body's main nutrient source of energy.

So what happens to alcohol?

It gets stored as fat. 

Not only is it devoid of macro and micronutrients, it also inhibits our body's ability to absorb these nutrients from food. Our liver treats alcohol as a toxin and prioritizes the absorption of it before anything else. So the more you drink, the less of what you've eaten will actually be utilized by your body for necessary functions, such as those noted above.

Does this mean you should cut out all alcohol from your life? Well, not exactly. I don't mean to be a buzz kill ;) In moderation, a drink here or there is fine. But drinking in excess on a regular basis has consequences. Arming yourself with knowledge about those consequences can help you live a healthier and more balanced life. Which is what I'm all about.