One month without alcohol, what does that do to our body?
Many people have taken up the Dry January Challenge (particularly practised in the UK) or the “28 Day Alcohol–Free Challenge” in February, following an indulgence-filled holiday season. But why not give our body a “break” anytime during the year? A month without alcohol can mean better sleep, increased productivity, and improved sports performance!
There’s a popular belief that a glass of alcohol before bed may facilitate falling asleep. However, studies show a decrease in sleep quality: alcohol interferes with sleep cycles that, in the long term, can result in lack of recuperative sleep. Sleep is essential to productivity, athletic performance and overall health. It is therefore important to return to a healthier lifestyle after the holidays by making relaxing, recuperative sleep a priority. Should you be taking a second look at your alcohol consumption?
Adequate nutrition is often key to achieving our fitness goals, whether they be weight-loss, increased muscle mass or sports performance. Drinking alcohol the night before a workout can affect your workout at any level. Since alcohol is a diuretic, the risk of dehydration is higher during training. In addition, your body will prioritize its elimination so the liver will produce less sugar. The result: fatigue!
According to a journal of sports medicine; alcohol consumption post exercise can interfere with muscle gain among athletes as it can reduce testosterone production and also lower the body’s ability to recuperate. The risk of dehydration is also present. In the long term, consuming calories in the form of alcohol increases the risk of having an empty calorie rage and thus gaining weight, which will affect your athletic performance or your weight loss goal. Alcohol is known to interfere with weight loss because it decreases the body’s ability to burn body fat. In short, something to think about…
Moderate alcohol consumption (according to Éduc’alcool : 10 drinks/week for women and 15 drinks/week for men) may have some heart health benefits, but can also have negative repercussions like the development of certain cancers, high cholesterol, weakening of the immune system, disturbed heart rate, and so on. The effects of alcohol on your health are numerous. It’s wise to stop and assess your own habits.
All in all, if you’re not drinking alcohol, there’s no interest in starting. On the other hand, if you are a fan of 5 to 7, the 28 days without alcohol challenge is an opportunity to assess and compare your sports performance, the effect on your body composition and especially your general well-being, including the quality of your sleep.
- Kenney, S. R., Labrie, J. W., Hummer, J. F., & Pham, A. T. (2012). Global sleep quality as a moderator of alcohol consumption and consequences in college students. Addictive Behaviors, 37(4), 507–512. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2012.01.006
- Barnes, M. J. (2014). Alcohol: Impact on Sports Performance and Recovery in Male Athletes. Sports Medicine, 44(7), 909–919. doi: 10.1007/s40279-014-0192-8