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Alcohols effect on your training and health

One or two glasses of red wine per day will unfortunately not give you the positive effects we were told it would about 20 years ago. The conclusions were drawn from misinterpreted correlations where the subjects who drank wine also in general lived healthier lifestyles, which in fact was what had the positive effect - and not the red wine. Fortunately, research and data is continuously updated, even if it can take some time.


You can however find theoretical explanations to why red wine would be so healthy. Red wine f.ex. contains an antioxidant called reseveratrol. Antioxidants are substances that protect our cells from free radicals - reactive molecules created naturally in our cells when they are working. Free radicals are often perceived as negative and frightening as they can cause changes in our DNA which in the worst case can increase ageing, mutations and cancer. If free radicals are dangerous then antioxidants must be good right? Yes, and that is why our bodies regulate the levels of free radicals. When it comes to antioxidants "more is not always better" because it seems that free radicals act as vital signal molecules in our muscles in connection with training and therefore shouldn't be avoided at all costs. 

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Despite the theoretical antioxidants explanation of wines positive effects, you can't argue with the fact that the alcohol molecule (ethanol) is harmful and increases the risk for cancer, even if you drink moderate amounts. In conclusion, when it comes to your physical health, the advice is to abstain from alcohol.

If you think that your mental health increases from having a glass of wine now and then, but wonder if your physical health is affected in a negative way, a study from GIH about alcohol and sports shows that:

  • The day after you have drunk alcohol your nervous system is affected and the activation of your muscles can decrease (less power), your reaction time increases, your ability to make decisions is reduced and your co-ordination decreases.  But your heart rate, metabolism and stamina however do not seem to be affected to any greater degree.

  • During your workout it is not recommended to drink alcohol. Your risk for injury increases, your motor skills deteriorate and you run a greater risk of dehydration. Your strength or ability to perform at a maximum are however not affected.

  • When it comes to your general training results it doesn't seem like your nervous system (which controls your muscles) are affected as long as the consumption is low/medium. There has however been studies that show a decreasing production of hormones.

In conclusion, a moderate consumption of alcohol does not seem to affect your training too much, but if your goal with your training is weight loss you should keep in mind the amount of calories alcohol contains. One gram of alcohol contains 7kcal which is significantly more energy than the same amount of carbohydrates and proteins contain (4 kcal/gram). 

If you drink two glasses of wine you consume 168 kcal which is a little more than f.ex. one and a half banana - and it there was a competition over which was the healthiest, the banana wins easily!

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About the authors Jessica & Maria

Challengize health tips are written for us by Jessica Norrbom and Maria Ahlsén, both with PHDs in medicine. Since 2013 they run their own business Fortasana working mainly with diet, training and health from a scientific perspective. Maria and Jessica have written several books and regularly lecture focusing mainly on popular health myths and explain what is actually true from a scientific perspective when it comes to diets, trends and newspaper headlines.

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