A St. Paddy’s Day Primer on Alcohol and Fitness

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A St. Paddy’s Day Primer on Alcohol and Fitness

fitness-alcohol

If the beer is green, it must be St. Patrick’s Day! For those who view this day as an excuse to go wild at a party and overindulge in drinking, the day after ultimately brings regrets. Although alcohol has long been associated with fun and crazy times, it is possible to enjoy a party without getting tipsy and ruining your fitness goals.

St. Patrick’s Day often signals an excuse to overindulge on alcohol, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can still have fun by staying sober. The key is your mindset.

For example, before arriving at a party, visualize yourself having a great time, and you will start to excitedly anticipate the social gathering. Make the party be about the people, not the food and drinks. Focus on catching up with friends and even on cranking out those dance moves. Kill two birds with one stone by getting your mind off of food while getting in some exercise. Be involved and participate in party games instead of lounging in the corner, isolated and munching on snacks. You can feel included and enjoy a drink, but just don’t include the alcohol. Virgin cocktails can be just as delicious and with fewer calories.

Alcohol and working out do not mix as well as gin and tonic. With alcohol flowing through your system, deep REM sleep, which is the time when muscle mass is built and maintained, will be disrupted. Alcohol acts as a diuretic (meaning many trips to the bathroom) and makes it more likely that you will be dehydrated. A lack of fluid balance within your body is detrimental to your workout routine, with speed and endurance performance most negatively affected.

Your liver takes on the job of clearing out the toxic by-products of alcohol in your system. The liver also produces energy in the form of glucose. The process of eliminating traces of alcohol in your system takes precedence over all other tasks that the liver completes, so low amounts of energy are created for your workout, making you tire more quickly and unable to exercise at your usual intensity. Also, the liver is too preoccupied to filter out lactic acid, which is produced by the burning of glucose. A build-up of lactic acid leads to fatiguing of muscles and cramps, further negatively impacting your workout.

IT'S TIME TO PARTY - BUT NOT TOO MUCH!

  • Don't drink on an empty stomach.
  • Pace yourself by alternating an alcoholic beverage with water.
  • 12 oz. beer = 1 ½ ounces hard alcohol = 5 oz. wine
  • Sweet drinks will intoxicate you more quickly.
  • It takes about one hour per drink for your body to process the alcohol.
  • Never drink and drive!                             
U Rock Girl!U Rock Girl! Contributor

Tiffani Bachus, R.D.N., and Erin Macdonald, R.D.N., are the co-founders of U Rock Girl!, a website designed to nourish the mind, body and spirit of women of all ages and stages of life. They have just authored the rockin' breakfast cookbook, No Excuses! 50 Healthy Ways to ROCK Breakfast! available at www.URockGirl.com

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