Sport and Alcohol: A Mixture to Avoid for Optimum Performance

Sports and alcohol are two areas of life that can seem diametrically opposed. Sport promotes health, discipline and physical performance, while alcohol is often associated with relaxation and conviviality. However, many people are tempted to combine the two, without always measuring the consequences.

In this article, we'll explore the detrimental effects of alcohol on athletic performance and highlight why it's best to keep them separate.

  • Impaired physical performance: Alcohol acts as a central nervous system depressant, meaning it slows reactions and decreases motor coordination. These effects can impair athletic performance by reducing speed, accuracy and endurance. Alcoholic beverages can also affect balance and coordination, increasing the risk of injury.

  • Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and causes loss of body fluids. When playing sports, it is essential to stay hydrated to keep your performance at peak levels. Consuming alcohol before or during exercise can worsen dehydration, which can lead to low energy, decreased concentration, and increased muscle fatigue.

  • Impact on recovery: Alcohol can disrupt the recovery process after physical exertion. It interferes with muscle protein synthesis, thereby slowing the repair and growth of tissues damaged during exercise. Additionally, alcohol impairs sleep by disrupting deep sleep cycles and reducing the quality of rest. Quality sleep is essential to allow the body to recover, rebuild muscle tissue and prepare for upcoming workouts.

  • Long-term health risks: Excessive and regular alcohol consumption can cause adverse health effects, including liver disease, cardiovascular problems and mental disorders. For athletes, these health issues can compromise their ability to train consistently and maintain high-level performance.

Although alcohol may seem harmless and pleasant at first glance, it is important to understand the negative effects it can have on athletic performance.

The combination of alcohol and sport compromises coordination, concentration, endurance and recovery.

To achieve optimal performance, it is best to maintain moderate alcohol consumption, or even avoid it completely before and during training or competition periods.

Article by Stephane Jacquemart, sports nutrition training referent