By Sean Keats, CSCS (The Windsor Square)
(WINDSOR, ON) – Things you need to know about alcohol… If you “must” drink! No matter what you may hear, a drink here or a drink there won’t cause irreparable damage to your insides. In fact, a little alcohol on occasion seems to reap some health benefits. But more on that later. Because not knowing how to drink in moderation can lead to some serious performance downsides.
So how does alcohol affect your physical abilities, and what does that mean for your drinking days?
Got plans for anything physically demanding? You’d be better off – much better off – leaving the alcohol for another time. Because as great as a cold one may taste right now, ingesting alcohol before or while playing softball, riding a bike, or lifting heavy objects puts you at greater risk for injury.
The causes of increased injury risk are many. As you may know, alcohol consumption may cause you to lose your coordination and have a decreased reaction time. These two side effects result in many sports-related injuries and cause all sorts of dangerous and deadly accidents. Pile on the fact that alcohol decreases your strength significantly, and it becomes clear that alcohol and anything athletic should not be combined.
When exercising, the last thing you want is to run out of gas before you’re ready to be finished with your routine. Therefore, you’re going to have to keep alcohol at arm’s length. Because not only will an alcoholic beverage increase your risk for injury during exercise, but it will also prevent you from working out as long and hard as you planned.
And before you decide to settle down with a drink after a hard workout, there’s something else you should know. That drink you have to celebrate a hard day at the gym may keep you from having an equally successful day tomorrow – especially if it’s the first thing you ingest post-workout. So instead of ruining tomorrow’s workout with today’s celebration, drink some water and eat a meal before tossing back a brew or mixed drink. Once you have a drink, you should also be wary of drinking too many more, as this can fill you up with unneeded calories that will serve to slow down your weight-loss or weight-maintenance efforts.
Now that you know the downsides to drinking at the wrong time, you’re probably ready for some good news about alcohol. Ready? Drinking alcohol in moderation is good for your health. That’s right – sip on a little wine now and then or enjoy your other alcoholic beverage of choice, and you’ll actually help improve your health. How? Good question.
Alcohol, when drank in moderation, drops your risk for heart disease, but you’ve got to be careful. Drink more than one or two glasses of alcohol a day, and your risk for heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure stops going down. When you drink more than a little bit of alcohol each day, and your risks for these issues all begin to climb.
For improved protection against heart disease, you’ve probably heard that you need to improve your good cholesterol. Known as HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, this good cholesterol is found in one of your favourite dinner drinks: white or red wine. But as with all other alcohol, you’ll need to be cautious. Don’t get the cheapest wine available, as it may contain chemicals that are known for causing breathing difficulty and headaches. Instead, hunt down organic wines. It’ll taste better and leave you feeling good immediately after drinking and well after.