Everyone knows the great feeling of exercise on a sunny Saturday. Then on Friday that colleague convinces you that moonshine is better than sunshine and you end up in the hurt locker not the ZAP one the next morning. Exercise and alcohol may not always be a no go though. It just depends on your approach.
Recent research shows drinkers who exercise will benefit in the long term. Chronic drinkers who exercised five hours per week were shown to have the same mortality rate as those who never drank alcohol. Boozers who train regularly have also been shown to have less damaged white matter in their brains compared to those who rarely or never exercise.
Working out lowers our risk of cancer which is elevated due to alcohol consumption. Cardio work outs have been shown to promote healthier cells in our gut and liver and a higher working metabolism. This means your aerobic fitness is going to help prevent alcohol-related liver damage and protect your immune system.
In the short term hitting the bottle is not going to lift your spirits but exercise can again help. Remember, alcohol affects testosterone production, muscle protein synthesis and glucose uptake though. This is going to have a damaging effect on your fitness, muscle mass and recovery. You are also going to burn fewer calories during exercise and between gym visits.
We are less inclined to exercise when we’re feeling dusty but there are ways to help our hangover. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Consuming cysteine also stops many of the inflammatory effects of a hangover. Your body can produce cysteine from ingesting methionine. Methionine is found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy, quinoa and nuts.
Cysteine has been shown to be more effective when combined with vitamin B. Alcohol depletes vitamin B so stock up on foods such as cereal, legumes, green leafy vegetables, fish, meat and nuts. Vitamin C is also depleted so eat plenty of citrus fruits, red tomatoes and capsicum.
Magnesium is a mineral that many of us already have low levels of. This has anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce your hangover symptoms so you can exercise. Beans and nuts are high in magnesium as are whole grains, brown rice and green leafy vegetables.
Pat yourself on the back if you make it to the gym following a big session the night before. If you only had a few drinks then your body probably won’t really suffer. If you’re binge drinking on a regular basis which is five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women then you should try to drink less.
Motivating yourself at the gym is hard so if you continue to have a cheeky few before a work out then you’re diminishing all that effort you put into staying fit. If you’re a serious trainer then you really shouldn’t be drinking for 48 hours before a hard session. Do yourself a favour and have a shot at achieving some big exercise goals and not so many shots at the pub.