Training and taking part in any sport means looking after your body and watching what you eat and drink? Even professional sports men and women can be seen in the press at bars and clubs but how much is alcohol actually affecting their performance?
Drinking and Training
If you take part in sport at any level then the question of alcohol can be a difficult one. Those in intensive training for specific events such as the London Marathon become more aware of drink affecting performance but all activities require constant monitoring of your weekly intake.
If you just play a sport once a week and don’t have too much time for training then you might feel that alcohol is acceptable but is it still having an effect on how you play?
The Drink aware organisation publish some very useful advice for sportsmen at any level and the information shown on their site may just surprise you.
Here comes the Science
Alcohol affects our sporting performance in two very distinct ways: Firstly, it is a diuretic and too much of it sees your kidneys produce more urine and in time, you will lose too much fluid and become very dehydrated.
Taking more water on board doesn’t act as an antidote because alcohol increases your body temperature and you simply lose extra fluid as you begin to sweat profusely. Even if you stock up on specially designed isotonic drinks from you may not be sufficiently hydrated to perform at your best when it really counts.
Dehydration affects sportsmen and women at all levels so clearly this is one issue where alcohol can spark a poor performance.
Slower and Slower
Alcohol will also have an adverse effect on the way in which your body produces energy: Your liver produces glucose which gives you the boost you need to get through games and training but if this vital organ is engaged elsewhere, trying to break down alcohol then the body’s energy production is hampered as a result.
When playing or training, those glucose levels need to be high to get you through but while your liver is slowed down, you have less energy. You’ll become tired in a shorter space of time and naturally, this will affect your performance on the field, court or in the pool.
Key times to avoid alcohol
Drink affects key areas that we all need in order to play sport at the best of our ability – co-ordination, dexterity, reaction and concentration. Lose those powers and you won’t perform as well.
It’s recommended that you avoid alcohol altogether the night before a game or a training session although some sportsmen feel that a small drink with food is acceptable and suggest that they aren’t affected as a result.
Playing with what is effectively a hangover will undoubtedly slow down those four key elements. Speed and power drop and an ability to take advantage of a crucial match winning situation could be lost.
Nobody is suggesting that you should remove alcohol altogether but be aware of its effects and reduce your intake if you want to compete.