Hi, my name is Desiree Winkel, owner and founder of Fitness Coaching. Fitness Coaching is a studio/gym where you can work out with professional trainers. Among the workout programs we offer are boot camps, cardio boxing, functional training, weight loss training, group training and personal training. We have studios in Simpson Bay and in Philipsburg that are open six days a week.

Don’t we all like our little glass of wine in the evening or that beer during the weekend? And people, who know me, know I like my treat of vodka and club soda with a splash of Sprite – I love to drink this either Friday night at Buccaneer Bar or on Saturday or Sunday. I rather drink a maximum of two days in the weekend than every day in the week. What about you? What is your habit?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a casual exerciser, are in the gym every day, or compete in regular matches or events, anyone who cares about playing sport or keeping fit should understand the effects alcohol can have on their performance. Not having a balanced approach to alcohol could be what gets in the way of you reaping the rewards from all the work you've put in.

Effects of alcohol on sport performance

Overall, alcohol is detrimental to sports performance because of how it affects the body during exercise. It does this in two main ways.

First, because alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes your kidney produce more urine, drinking too much of it can lead to dehydration. Exercising soon after drinking alcohol can make this dehydration worse because you sweat as your body temperature rises. Combined, sweating and the diuretic effect of exercise make dehydration much more likely. You need to be hydrated when you exercise to maintain the flow of blood through your body, which is essential for circulating oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.

Dehydration leads to reduced performance. Hydration also helps control your body temperature so you’re more likely to overheat if you’ve been drinking alcohol.

Second, alcohol interferes with the way your body makes energy. When you’re metabolizing or breaking down alcohol, the liver can’t produce as much glucose, which means you have low levels of blood sugar. Exercise requires high levels of sugar to give you energy. If your liver isn’t producing enough glucose, your performance will be adversely affected. If your body is forced to run from your supplies of fat rather than blood sugar, you will be slower and have less energy and won’t be able to exercise as intensely. As a result, your coordination, dexterity, concentration and reactions could be adversely affected too.

Both effects are immediate which is why it’s not advised to exercise or compete in sport soon after drinking alcohol.

Exercising the day after the night before

Drinking alcohol the night before could have a negative influence on your performance the following day. It’s not possible to perform at your best if you’re feeling any of the effects normally associated with a hangover, such as dehydration, a headache and hypersensitivity to outside stimuli such as light and sound. Try to make up for it another day. Do not force yourself if your body tells you not to exercise.

Trying to avoid a hangover? Here are some simple tips: You’ll lack strength and power, be less likely to make split second decisions and more likely to feel tired quicker because your body won’t be able to clear out the lactic acid you produce when you exercise. This is because your liver will be working harder to get rid of the toxic by-products of alcohol in your system.

You make the choice whether you will have a drink the day before a training session or workout, but think twice before drinking the day before a competition or match. Similarly, drinking after exercise is not advisable if you haven’t consumed enough water to replace the fluids you lost. (Sorry, girls, no more Buccaneer on Fridays!) Drinking too much and eating calorific food will cancel out the health gains of the exercise your body would have benefited from.

Longer-term effects

Indeed, alcohol is high in sugar which means it contains lots of calories – seven calories a gram, in fact – almost as many as pure fat. If your aim in the gym or through exercise is weight management, then it seems paradoxical to consume “empty” calories in liquid form. Alcohol can also slow down the number of calories you’re able to burn through exercise. 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 in food and burning fat.

Muscle gain can be affected too. Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns and growth hormones, which are vital for muscle growth, are released while you're in deep sleep. It could also reduce the amount of testosterone you have in your blood – testosterone is a hormone you need to gain muscles. And drinking excessive alcohol can poison muscle fibres, which means they don’t adapt like they should do for up to three days.

Needless to say, you still can enjoy life. You will be fine if you remember everything in moderation. Have a great week ahead of you.

If you have questions or need more information about Fitness Training, call 524-7700. We are located on Welfare Road and Juancho Yrausquin Blvd. Visit www.fitnesscoachingsxm.com; like Fitness Coaching on Facebook or Instagram.