Training Tips

Alcohol and Sports Performance

Do you enjoy a beer after work or a glass of wine with dinner? Or do you find your recycle bin has enough bottles in it to suggest that you had a big party over the weekend? What role does alcohol play in your life and how does it affect your running?

Things to consider:

  1. Alcohol is calorically dense where ‘one drink’ small glass of wine (5oz) has 150-175 cal and (12oz) beers have 100-175 cal. Hard alcohol (1.5 oz shot) has 100-120 cal and mixed drinks range from 120-600 cal. As a result excess drinking can add unwanted pounds in the form of fat.
  2. Alcohol impairs recovery after exercise by reducing muscle-building activity and impairing the muscles ability to replenish glycogen stores.
  3. Alcohol has few beneficial nutrients so it provides no quality to the diet.  Thus it falls into the empty calorie category.
  4. Alcohol can impair sleep by causing disturbances to the REM cycle.
  5. Alcohol has a diuretic effect so it will cause more urine losses.
  6. Alcohol lowers inhibitions: “sure, another round of fried cheese sticks!” which can lead to over-eating and other poor decisions.
  7. Long term, excessive drinking can damage organs: brain, liver, heart and pancreas and may increase the risk of some cancers (breast, and stomach).

If this list is a bit depressing to you because you feel alcoholic drinks taste good, are relaxing and fun to enjoy – especially the beer garden after a marathon – there is good news. Alcohol in small amounts can be enjoyed without causing harm and may provide cardiovascular benefits. What are small amounts: 1 drink/day for women and 1-2 drinks/day for men or 7 drinks per week for women and 14 drinks per week for men. Still depressing? Ideas to cut back include: Abstaining for a month to break the habit; have a plan for when you will drink (1 beer after work); when tempted for another drink have a non-alcoholic substitute available (flavored seltzer water), talk to family and friends to see if they can help with ideas or support. For your post run celebration brew, just make sure you first rehydrate, with water or a sports beverage, and eat protein plus carbohydrate before hitting the beer garden.

The Post-Race Festival for the Colfax Marathon is located in City Park “meadow area” east of City Park’s pavilion and lake and due west of the Museum of Nature and Science. Spectators, family and friends are welcome in this area. The party will feature live music, food and drinks, and the Charity Partner Village will showcase all of our Charity Partners.

Jacque Maldonado, MS, RD, CSSD, CDE
Jacque has a B.S. and M.S. in Nutrition and is an avid endurance athlete having finished four full Ironman® Triathlons and over 25 marathons including qualifying for Boston.  She is also a USA Triathlon coach Level 1 and a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.  Jacque currently works in Kaiser Permanente’s Population & Prevention Services department.