How Does Alcohol Affect Your Fitness?


Ever wonder how does alcohol affect your gains? Is it ok to have a beer from time to time? An occasional drink won’t cause any harm. Just don't make a habit out of it.

In 2015, over 26.9 percent of American adults engaged in binge drinking. Each year, about 88,000 people in the U.S. alone die because of alcohol consumption. Too much wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages increase your risk of death from all causes.

What about physical performance? Can alcohol affect your progress in the gym? Let's take a quick look at the effects of alcohol on fitness:

Why Alcohol and Exercise Don't Mix
Celebrating the weekend with a bottle of wine may seem harmless, but its side effects shouldn't be overlooked. This habit can slow down your progress and affect overall health. According to the American Council on Exercise, alcohol affects muscle growth and recovery. It also negatively impacts your metabolism and body composition.

Your body can not use alcohol for energy. The extra calories are stored as fat. Alcoholic beverages also affect circulation, reducing blood flow to the muscles. Moreover, they lower your testosterone and raise estrogen levels, which may ruin your gains. These chemical reactions lead to fat storage, inflammation, poor circulation, fluid retention, and liver dysfunction.

Alcohol also reduces oxygen supply to the brain, affecting memory and cognition. You'll have a hard time staying focused in the gym, learning new things, and doing your work. On top of that, your balance and reaction time will suffer.

Studies show that alcohol has a dramatic impact on physical performance. In the long run, it affects muscle growth, endurance, sleep patterns, and cardiovascular function.

For instance, alcoholic beverages disrupt your sleep, leaving you tired and fatigued. Without a good night's sleep, you won't be able to function at your peak. Your metabolism will slow down, your testosterone levels will drop, and the stress hormone cortisol levels will go up. These are just a few of the many side effects of sleep deprivation.

Moreover, alcohol boasts strong diuretic properties and may cause dehydration. This explains why you feel so thirsty after a night of binging on booze. Dehydration reduces blood volume, blood flow, sweat rate, and heat dissipation. At the same time, it depletes muscle glycogen stores and triggers fatigue. All of these factors affect your exercise performance.

How Much Alcohol Is Too Much
As you see, alcohol impacts your fitness on every level. However, this doesn’t mean you can't have an occasional drink. According to experts, women can safely consume up to one drink per day. Men can have two drinks daily. Beware that these are general guidelines. If your goal is to keep fit, a daily drink might be too much.

The all-or-nothing approach doesn’t work for most people. The key is finding what works best for you. Think about how drinking makes you feel. Take a long look in the mirror. Are you happy with what you see? If your answer is no, ditch the booze for a while.
Alcohol decreases your metabolic rate and promotes fat storage. At the same time, it limits muscle growth. If you keep drinking, it will take longer to lose stubborn fat. On top of that, your body will become less efficient at breaking down dietary nutrients. Not even the best diet or exercise plan can offset the damage caused by alcohol abuse.

To stay safe, avoid alcohol as much as possible. Have a drink or two on your birthday or other special events, but not in your daily life. Alcohol and fitness really don’t mix.


  • Alcohol consumption impacts physical performance, muscle growth, and metabolism. It also reduces nutrient absorption into the bloodstream. 
  • Frequent drinking promotes fat storage and affects body composition. 
  • Low testosterone, weight gain, fatigue, poor sleep, and dehydration are just a few of the many side effects of drinking.