Alcohol and exercise

What impact does alcohol have on your fitness regime?

What impact does alcohol have on your fitness regime?

Unfortunately, toasting your gym session with post-exercise drinks at home or down the pub can undo all the good work you've just put in. There's 180 calories in the average pint of lager and 159 calories in a 175ML glass of 13% ABV white wine, so you could end up topping up the weight you thought you'd lost through your fitness regime in no time at all. For instance, if you've just run for half an hour it will only take two pints to put back on the calories you've just burned off through exercise.

The way alcohol is absorbed by the body can also reduce the amount of fat you're able to burn by exercising. Because your body isn't designed to store alcohol, it tries to expel it as quickly as possible. This gets in the way of other processes, including absorbing nutrients and burning fat. So as well as slowing down the burning of calories, alcohol gets in the way of the nutritional benefits of the healthy meals you eat. 

Running on empty

Fitness experts agree that to get the most from cardiovascular exercise such as running or swimming, you have to put in the physical effort. But while your hangover may make a less hectic workout feel welcome, it's harder to build up the head of steam you need to stay in shape when you have a headache, and nausea is beginning to kick in. The night before's alcohol leaves your body dehydrated, even before your session starts.

Body benefits

If you feel like the balance between alcohol and exercise is veering too much towards the former, then it's a good idea to consider cutting down. You can still enjoy a drink and maintain a healthy lifestyle, the key is sticking to the government's lower risk guidelines.

Re-assessing your relationship with alcohol doesn't just do wonders for the effectiveness of your workout, it can also boost your general health too. In fact, if you're looking to reduce your stress levels, lose weight and look your best, then reducing your intake will help.

Best of all, cutting down delivers more than just short-term results. Drinking within the guidelines means you're actively protecting your general health and reducing your risk of developing heart disease, having cancer and getting problems with your liver in the future as well.

Are you drinking too much?

Find out how many units you are drinking

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Take a drinking self assessment

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How to cut down

We have many tips and strategies for cutting down at home or when out and about.

Tips on how to cut down

Page updated: October 2014