#TuesdayTalk: Alcohol & Your Body


Guys, it’s almost beach season (6 days until Memorial Day - but who’s counting?!). For some of us summer means bikinis, sun-tans, the beach, BBQ’s, summer partys and a lot of summer alcoholic drink options! I know you’re wondering: How am I supposed to stay on track with my macros if I’m drinking? How can I drink but also stick to my weight loss goals? What are my best options for drinking and still performing well in the gym? We’re not here to tell you what to do.. But, if you want to make an informed decision about alcohol, then KEEP ON READING!

Alcohol affects everyone differently in terms of absorption, quantity and how quickly it starts to impair you. Once you start to consume alcohol it is absorbed directly into your blood stream through the lining of your stomach. And once alcohol is in the blood stream it is transported to all organs of your body. In most cases it can take about 90 seconds, with effects felt within 5 to 10 minutes after drinking.

The effects of alcohol depends on a few things. It can vary depending on:

  • Sex: (women have a higher Blood Alcohol Content or ‘BAC’ after drinking the same amount of alcohol than men, due to differences in metabolism and absorption)

  • The presence or absence of food in the stomach (food dilutes the alcohol and dramatically slows its absorption into the bloodstream)

  • The concentration of alcohol in the beverage (4% light beer vs 8% IPA)

  • How quickly alcohol is consumed

  • Your body type (heavier and more muscular people have more fat and muscle to absorb the alcohol)

Once alcohol is in your system your body makes metabolizing it a priority. That means that it will stop metabolizing anything else in order to take care of the alcohol. This happens because unlike protein, carbohydrates, and fat, there is nowhere for alcohol to be stored in our body! This is supposed to happen quickly, so the delay of nutrient absorption from any other food/ drinks can often be overlooked by our bodies.

Alcohol with performance and recovery:

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Outside of the obvious issues that consuming alcohol does to performance - the hangover, dehydration, headache, etc - what’s happening inside the body after a night of drinking? After all, the effects of alcohol do not simply wear off when signs of intoxication are gone!
Alcohol can negatively affect sleep, recovery, and the production of hormones associated with muscular growth. Alcohol has also been shown to limit the inflammatory response (which we want to rebuild muscle) via an increase in the production of anti-inflammatory molecules. All of these issues mean that despite all our hard work in the gym, we are no longer reaching our max potential.

What to do if you want to drink! 

There are a few ways you can follow ‘protocol’ to ensure there are a few less consequences from having a good time: 

  • Drink a lot of water! Alternating alcoholic drinks with glasses of water can slow down your consumption and help keep you hydrated.

  • Try an electrolyte drink the day after drinking. Pedialyte is always a go to and is found anywhere. The electrolytes in these products will ensure proper hydration before consuming alcohol.

  • Make sure you eat a meal with protein, carbs and fats before you drink. The food will allow your body to soak up some of the alcohol and make you less likely to impulsively make poor food choices. Let’s be real: no one wants a salad when they are drinking!

  • Try alcohol with less sugar. Sugary drinks tend to cause stronger hangovers than those with less sugar. Try something like a potato vodka with seltzer or tequila on the rocks. If you’re a wine drinker, try picking something organic and without sulfites. Google the ‘NorCal Margarita’ for a tasty spin on the classic cocktail - without the sugar and calories.

CrossFit is a lifestyle and so is the nutritional choices you make everyday. If you want to drink on the beach, at a BBQ, or where ever you may be, that’s OK. We just want you to understand the impact that drinking has on the body and how you can maximize a good time as well as staying on track with your goals. Making smart decisions with alcohol will push you further towards your fitness goals!