Alcohol and Sports Performance

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Alcohol and Sports Performance
The effects that alcohol carries out on the human body are numerous. The majority of the effects are immediate but some of the effects are long term. The main effects are seen right away with intoxication, blurred vision, slurred speech, reduced reaction time, and impaired muscle control to name a few. The long-term effects can harm the person much greater than the short-term effects. Consistent alcohol abuse can lead to several diseases that destroy the body and its functions. Athletes spend countless hours trying to maximize their performance and potential. When alcohol effects the body severely and detrimentally on a cellular level the athlete is compromised. One of the biggest threats to the athlete is that any gains made through practice or working with weights will be cancelled if alcohol is consumed on that same day. The reason this happens is because alcohol blocks protein synthesis. When the body is unable to repair damaged muscles or contribute to the growth of those muscle cells due to lifting weights. In addition to blocking protein synthesis, alcohol also decreases the production of human growth hormone by roughly 70%. HGH is responsible for much of the muscle and long bone growth within the body and many more functions. HGH also plays a role in promoting lipolysis. If this function is blocked, an increase in fat cells is seen and the “beer belly” begins to form. HGH also promotes gluconeogenesis, and if this function is blocked blood glucose levels will drop potentially leading to hypoglycemia. Alcohol affects the athlete on many levels, both internally and externally.

The first article is a report from the Cork GAA Coaching & Development website. The article is broken down into an informational portion and an advice portion. This article focuses on Ireland and the link of alcohol and sport within their society. The major correlation that this research found was that being involved in a sport has a positive effect on adolescents and keeping them away from alcohol but it showed that in adults it may encourage greater intake of alcohol compared with non-athletic peers. This comes from the common notion that athletes like to drink together to bond with other players, and the main consumption of alcohol is in a binge-like fashion. The study also points out that, contrary to popular belief, alcohol is a depressant as it slows down the brain and bodily functions. Alcohol will decrease the rate and success of psychomotor skills essential for successful exercise performance. Some of these include reaction time, balance, and hand-eye coordination. The study also lists off a few short-term effects of alcohol and its effect on sport performance. They were dehydration, increase of soft tissue injury recovery, and slower decision-making. The point that was made with soft tissue injury was that the injury needs reduced blood flow to the injured area, and alcohol increases blood flow, causing the injury to take longer to heal. Some of the long term effects that they pointed out were weight gain, diet choices, increased risk for violence, neglect of rehabilitation, and proper strategy to recover and refuel after a performance. The reason for weight gain that they saw was that the body favors alcohol over fat as an energy source. When an athlete consumes fatty foods while under the influence, the body will directly store all grams of fat the athlete consumes leading to a unwanted weight gain over time.

The article also gave a strategy for “surviving a night out with teammates.” The first step is to plan ahead what you will be doing that night and what you will need to do the next day because of it. Eating carbohydrate-rich foods will fill the body up and slow down the rate of alcohol absorption during the night. It will also slow down the pace of alcohol consumption. The article also suggests to pace yourself and balance alcoholic drinks with...
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