How does alcohol affect fitness? (Getty Images)
Did you know that human beings invented alcohol for getting "stoned" earlier than they invented soap for getting clean? It just goes to show that drinking has been a popular activity for a long time.
But how does alcohol intake affect fitness? Here is what you need to know.
1. Alcohol is high in calories. We don't place calorie counting as a high priority for the clients that we work with. In fact, quality of food is the first thing we try to help clients change. It is true however, that you can't take in excessive calories, and hope to be lean and healthy.
Alcohol is high in calories. One gram has 7 calories. That is about 150 calories per can of beer. Those can add up quickly at a bar.
2. Worse than the calories, is that there are no essential nutrients in alcohol. There are essential amino acids that can only be obtained from animal sources, there are essential fats that can only be obtained from food like fish oils and nuts. But there are no essential sugars, and no essential alcohols.
This makes alcohol a "low value" source of calories. If you can eat you entire daily caloric intake via beer, you will be well fed, but still malnourished.
3. Worst of all, alcohol is perceived as a toxin by your body. Our bodies take toxins as a serious threat and will do its best to eliminate them as soon as possible. Everything else takes a "back seat". Immune system strength, fat burning, brain function, and reproductive function all slow down as resources are diverted to toxin removal.
The elimination of alcohol occurs mainly in the liver, and it requires an enzyme called "alcohol-dehydrogenase". Don't worry about the technical name, what you do need to know is that making this enzyme is "expensive" in terms of nutrients.
The most notable nutrient that is used up in making this enzyme is zinc. Zinc is involved in more than 300 other reactions in our body (that we currently know of). So wasting it on alcohol detox makes it unavailable for other important purposes.
In short the fitness related consequences of alcohol that I see most often at Genesis Gym are:
- Excessive fat storage especially man-boobs, buttocks, and thighs
- Inability to sleep through the night - alcohol helps you sleep, but it's not a restful sleep
- Liver over-use which affects hormone activation and slows muscle building and fat burning
So what should you do?
Stop drinking, of course. But if you can't there are some steps that can take.
1. Wines if possible. They are the least bad form of alcohol (beer is the worst). They also have the anti-aging and cardio-protective nutrient called trans-resveretrol.
2. Supplement with zinc. Here is a good article on how to make sure your zinc supplement is effective.
3. Change social circles. Easier said than done and somewhat harsh, but remember that "you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with". If all your buddies are clubbers who love getting wasted, your chance of joining that lifestyle are high. Change friends if you want lasting change.
For the best fitness boot camp program, ExpressFIT program in the CBD, and personal training in Singapore visit www.genesisgym.com.sg or the Genesis Gym facebook page. Or visit Coach Jonathan's homepage and blog at www.coachjon.com