Alcohol, Exercise and You

This post is going to be about alcohol and exercise. It is not about drinking alcohol and then exercising, although there are races and such where you stop at bars every mile or so. That sounds like fun, but is something you should only do once in a great while if you have performance goals.

I am writing this post because I like to drink. I particularly like beer. Good beer. Craft beer. American craft beer, Belgian beer, French sours, you know, the finer things in life. The problem with beer is 1) it is totally not on the slow-carb or paleo diet, which I adhere to quite a bit. 2) Good beer tends to be higher in alcohol than your typical watered down, mass marketed American lager. This means you need to be careful with how much you drink.

I enjoy a good beer almost every day. I should switch to red wine, which is slow-carb and paleo friendly, but I just can’t give up on the fact that I can drink the finest beers in the world for really cheap. We’re talking $5 or so for a 12 oz glass. I don’t find the same consistent value with wine. I also don’t make enough money yet to be able to afford good wine all the time. Someday I will. Someday soon.

So if you like to drink like me, how can you be sure to minimize the alcohol’s effects on your training? I have a few things you can try. I should mention that not drinking regularly is the best option. But for me and many others, that is not way we enjoy life. And life is to be enjoyed.

Alcohol dehydrates. Be conscious of this. Once you are dehydrated, it takes six to eight hours to get yourself back to normal. I recommend drinking a cup of water (8oz) for each drink you consume. This is based on the fact that one drink is equal to one 1 oz. shot of 80 proof liquor; one 5 oz. glass of wine; or one 12 oz. beer that is approximately 5 to 6% alcohol. Add a bit more water for those strong ales and IPAs. If you are drinking before bed and exercise early in the morning, you need to be especially careful about this dehydration thing. It is really better to not drink the day before if you have a day of heavy training coming up.

One thing that we should all do is remember to keep our drinking in balance. Doctors and nutritionists say that women can enjoy one alcoholic beverage per day while men can enjoy two. I have been known to go over this number on occasion, but I do not do it often. I find that excessive drinking interferes with my fitness level. Everything in moderation, including moderation, is a good way to think about it.

If you have a seriously strenuous race or something like that, you should abstain from alcohol completely to maximize your training and event performance. In the meantime, drink in moderation and enjoy life.

(The information contained in this post and on this website are opinion. Before making any changes in your diet or exercise routine, please get the advice of your doctor. It is the smart thing to do.)