Effects of alcohol and fitness progress

Fitness vs Alcohol

Does alcohol help or hinder your fitness?

We will talk about effects of alcohol when consuming certain types of alcoholic beverages. This activity may bring out the positive effects of alcohol and negative effects of alcohol.


effects of alcohol
The carbs in the beer replace the loss of calories during training.

The power of a recovery pint.

Bitter 4% ABV, calories per pint 180-200

Lager 4.7-5% ABV, calories per pint 210-240

Positive effects of alcohol (PROS)

Two recent studies have raised the status of the post-run pint to new levels. Researchers discovered that a group of runners who drank beer scored ‘slightly better’ rehydration scores than those who only had water after a series of hot weather trials. What is more, experts suggest that carbon dioxide in beer has the effect of quenching thirst quicker – while the carbs in the beer replace the loss of calories during training.

Negative effects of alcohol (CONS)

In the build-up to a major endurance event chances are you’ll need to reduce your beer intake. As a diuretic, the alcohol in beer –   especially in strong lagers – has been proven to drastically deplete electrolyte (potassium and sodium) levels. Stick to fruit drinks in the build-up to a run – orange juice has four times the potassium of beer.

positive effects of alcohol
Resveratrol in red wine could protect against insulin resistance and loss of bone mineral density.


Have a glass of wine to live longer and race longer.

11-14% ABV, calories per glass 120


Live longer, race longer and enjoya tipple or two along the way. All the ‘good’ news that comes out about wine is often linked to the properties related to the ingredient resveratrol – a polyphenol said to help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and prevent blood clots.  Recently a FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) study also suggests that resveratrol could protect against insulin resistance and loss of bone mineral density.


Consuming too much of any alcohol is likely to leave one a little ‘fragile’ the following day, but wine in particular can produce a killer hangover that could impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. The main cause is the congeners – nausea-creating remnants from the fermenting process, identified by studiesincluding those from the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. Red wine contains more congeners than any other drink.

negative effects of alcohol
Vodka may have antiseptic properties but is not recommended by nutritionists.


Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, but this is it.

Gin 6.5% ABV, calories per 125ml 70-80

Vodka 6.5% ABV, calories per 125ml 70-80 with mixers


Gin and vodka seem here as a mixed double because, on the plus side, both these clear spirits come without the head-fugging congeners that darker spirits – like bourbon and dark rum – contain. While vodka is said to have antiseptic properties and gin – with its juniper derivatives – may be anti-inflammatory, don’t expect either to come with a physio or sports nutritionist’s recommendation.


The American College of Sports Medicine has studied the side- effects of hard liquor upon the athlete – and they have a couple of words of warning. Short spirits in long glasses with mixers don’t have the same impact as a full pint of beer – but spirits are alcohol and little else. The Institute of Food Research points to the fact that beer and wine do contain some nutrient value in the form of carbohydrates as well as small amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals with antioxidant. Spirits don’t.

Cider has comparable levels of antioxidants as red wine.


Delivers a decent dose of antioxidants.

4.5-6% ABV, calories per pint 200-230


According to a Journal of Nutrition study from the Norwich-based Institute of Food Research, cider delivers a decent dose of antioxidants. These are said to ‘mop up’ dangerous substances that can cause cell damage and occur more often after training. Cider has comparable levels of antioxidants as red wine.


There’s a clue in the fact that those sweet, more fruity ciders are, well, just that – high in sugars and calories and of course alcohol. Apple Cider Vinegar, however, has amino acid and potassium components that make it an excellent post-workout, fatigue and   inflammation-reducing, lactic acid flush.

Carbonated drinks such as sparkling wine have been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis.


May help reduce blood pressure.

12% ABV, calories per 125ml glass 90


Bubbly can come in at around 10-20 calories per glass fewer than red or sweet wines – and recent studies confirm that the same polyphenols found in red wine that may help reduce blood pressure are also present in Champagne.


If you weren’t getting enough stick for potential bone damage brought on by pounding the streets then glugging down Champagne could only add to the pressure you’re putting on your skeleton. Carbonated drinks such as sparkling wine have been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis by a Harvard University study examining the relationship between phosphates in the drink and calcium loss.

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Written by Jenny Nickelson

Jenny Nickelson has been a sports enthusiast since childhood. Because of her deep love to water, she started training swimming in early years. Today she swears on variety and does it all: from swimming, running and cycling to fitness, skiing, dancing and mountaineering.


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