No one wants to spend their free time during these warm San Diego summers missing out on all the fun. If you want to let loose every once and a while without the expense of blowing all your training out the window, then listen up. This article is going to give you tips, tricks, and need-to-knows in order for you to still perform in the gym — even after you’ve chosen beer as your cheat-day treat.
This article is also going to educate you on a few facts and regulations that are in place to keep you and your friends safe, and your health in good standing for years to come.
- 1. Why is waiting to drink alcohol after 21 years not only legal, but smart for my mental health?
- 2. What foods will help me recover after a night of drinking?
- 3.How soon can I start training hard again after a night of drinking?
1.) Why is waiting to drink after twenty-one years of age smart for my mental health?
Although we live in a culture where it is acceptable to drink, there are a few things you must keep in mind. The first of which is to make sure you are 21 years of age or older before you drink alcohol. Yes, we know — this is where you stop reading this article because we sound like your parents. But, there is research that says drinking under the age of twenty-one is bad for your brain development — and ultimately bad for your mental health!!!!
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “one in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge.” The CDCP also reported that Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34 years old, and most common in men. Drinking alcohol prior to age twenty-one could potentially have lasting effects on your body and create health problems in the future. This is because the human body is not done developing until roughly age…twenty-one.
Yes! This is ironically the same number! Alcohol slows the growth process by which your brain develops. Simultaneously, underage drinking predisposes you to other health issues, like liver damage. Your liver is one of the main filtration systems in your body; it detoxifies your blood and metabolizes drugs. Alcohol is considered a drug or toxin. Your liver also aids in blood clotting and the breaking down of fats. As we already know, fats are essential for us to live a healthy life. Needless to say, underage drinking is not cool, it is not good for your brain and mental health, and it is not good for your physical health.
I’m hopeful that we have established that it is not wise to drink under the age of twenty-one. However, if you are older than twenty-one and go drinking, these next two paragraphs will help you recover faster and help reduce the risk of potential injury.
2.) What foods will help me recover after a night of drinking?
Alcohol can interfere with many aspects of the recovery process. To recover properly after exercise, it is important to replenish glycogen. Glycogen by definition is a substance deposited in bodily tissues as a store of carbohydrates. Glycogen stimulates muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which is the process in building muscle. Glycogen is the energy your body gets from digesting food. Some real life foods that metabolize alcohol quickly are: whole wheat toast, oatmeal, rice, and pancakes. Taking in foods that contain higher amounts of protein will help as well. For example: meat products or beans will help slow the break-down of your muscles after a night of drinking.
Dehydration is also one of the reoccurring issues that are present in most people with a “hang-over”. Fluid intake has a strong effect on cognitive function and mood. This is because fluid makes-up over 70% of your body. In order to avoid these symptoms, you must replenish fluids and properly hydrate after vigorous exercise. Much like exercise, it is also important to maintain your fluid balance during or after ingesting alcohol — as alcohol is a natural diuretic.
A diuretic is something that makes you secrete more urine output, inadvertently causing dehydration. Whether its exercise or alcohol, both situations deplete your body’s fluid levels. When your body excretes fluids via urine, it is also getting rid of electrolytes. Meaning, you aren’t just losing water.
Electrolytes play a very important role in nerve function for your body, as well as maintaining your electrical balance within the blood and helping to transport things where they need to go. Without proper nerve function, the messages between your brain and body will not be received or sent efficiently. This is what causes motor function issues. And, if you’re going to lift heavy weights or compete in a race soon after a night of drinking, you need your motor functions firing optimally! Along with the above mentioned foods and drinking lots of water, I recommend electrolyte drinks such as Pedialyte and Gatorade.
Before we answer our final question, it is important to note that if you’re trying to make “gains” while drinking, please be aware that there are no real nutritional benefits to consuming alcohol. Alcohol is what some call “empty calories”. Empty calories or excess calories are energy ingested that have no real nutritional benefit for your body. Some drinks have more calories than others. For example, beer or drinks high in sugar are usually much higher in calories than straight liquor like vodka. People who drink often tend to gain weight and put on excess fat on their bodies because of the consumption of the extra calories — on top of their daily diet. The food and number of calories you put into your body are important in order to give yourself the right amount of energy required for your daily tasks.
Lastly, a common question I get asked often is: If I do drink, how long will it take until I can train/perform efficiently again?
3.) How soon can I start training hard again after a night of drinking?
The answer is: at least 48 hours. It takes roughly 48 hours for alcohol to leave your system and be filtered out, and for you to fully replenish anything that has been lost. Everyone is different, therefore, depending on how much you drink and how your body reacts, it could take longer. The best thing to do is a “flush” workout before you begin training intensely again. A “flush” workout consists of drinking a lot of water, foam rolling to open and release tight muscles, followed by a 30-40 minute low-impact cardio workout that brings your heart rate up to 75% of your MHR (maximum heart rate). This should be followed by 15-20 minutes of static stretching in which you hold each stretch for a minute or more. A smart thing to do is perform TWO flush workouts before you begin vigorous training again; this way your muscles and tendons are recovered, rehydrated, and flexible enough to handle a substantial load.
If you need help with proper program design or nutritional guidance, I would be pleased to meet with you in person. Give me a call today and set up an appointment; I can make your fitness goals a reality sooner than you think!
If you have any further questions or need that next level of help to really unlock your body and get into your best possible shape, reach out to an Iron Orr Trainer! You can text us or book an appointment. See you all in the gym!
-by Brianna White