Can alcohol and sports ever mix? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

It’s easy to dismiss alcohol as a detriment to performance and all important gains—and for good reason.

Drinking alcohol clouds judgment, impairs recovery, and can even cause a downward spiral when left unchecked. Obviously, these are extreme consequences of alcohol, but is there a way to balance it? We’re here to take a look.

Admittedly, I am not a huge alcohol drinker. I do enjoy the occasional bottle or two but drinking in general is something I can easily live without. That said, let me give you a more unbiased point of view when it comes to how getting inebriated (occasionally) can be a good thing.

Alcohol does offer a few health benefits

Certain types of alcohol such as red wine have natural antioxidants like resveratrol. Such substances in wine and other spirits may be linked to lower occurrences of coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and diabetes.

Of course, nothing is conclusive and there tends to be a slippery slope when it comes to “moderate” alcohol consumption. In general, stick to (at most) one or two servings (glasses) a day and you’ll be fine.

It can help you relax

Before big races, I would drink a bottle of “light” beer to help calm my nerves. Yes, even a veteran like me still gets nervous before any race. I find that it also helps me doze off earlier so that plays a big role as well.

However, a few caveats: I make sure I drink a lot of water in the days leading up to the race and I never go beyond a bottle. Drinking too much can cause dehydration and may even affect your quality of sleep.

It can improve blood flow

Alcohol acts as a vasodilator at low quantities. Vasodilation means that blood vessels open up to allow more blood to pass through. While there isn’t a direct relationship between the two, this is the same phenomenon that happens when you do a recovery workout.

Improved blood flow and circulation are believed to help aid recovery post-workout. However, when consumed excessively, alcohol does the opposite. It acts as a vasoconstrictor, increasing blood pressure and exacerbating headaches. Remember, alcohol is not a substitute for a recovery day or easy workout.

Alcohol can help with socialization

In today’s pandemic-ridden world, it’s easy to feel detached and isolated. We are no longer able to socialize and enjoy as much as we want to. On top of that, some awkwardness is often present when seeing friends for the first time (in a long time) whether physically or virtually.

That’s where “social drinking” can help. Having a bottle or two with a few friends can help break the ice and initiate the usual conversations we’re used to. Of course, this is definitely not necessary to go “meet up” with friends, but it can be a useful tool to consider.

To sum things up, I personally don’t advocate drinking alcohol as a means to get by or cover up stressors, problems, or frustrations. This is the wrong way of viewing alcohol. Rather, I like to think of it not as a vice but as a way of unwinding and enjoying.

The important thing is to understand your limits and to hold yourself accountable. As the cliche goes: Too much of a good thing is bad.


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