March 28, 2011
Sports and Nutrition
Alcohol and Athletics
Alcohol, more specifically ethyl alcohol or ethanol, is a depressant that provides 7 kCal of energy per gram, and is the most abused drug for athletes and non-athletes in the United States. Prior to my research on alcohol, I assumed that alcohol abuse was not prevalent among college athletes, outside of the occasional partying that normal college students partake in as well. But according to Lifestyles and Health Risks of Collegiate Athletes, college athletes generally drink more heavily and are more likely to engage in binge drinking than non-athletes1, and contrary to my belief, in the psychologic realm, some have argued that alcohol before competition reduces tension and anxiety, enhances self-confidence, and promotes aggressiveness. Alcohol use exaggerates the dehydrating effect of exercise and places an athlete at greater risk for heat injury during exercise. Many athletes consume alcohol-containing beverages after exercising or sports competition and the bottom line is that alcohol-containing beverages impede rehydration. 2 Alcohol is a drug that is absorbed into the bloodstream from the stomach and small intestine. In the fasting state, the majority of alcohol will be absorbed within 15 minutes and a maximum blood level will occur in approximately 20 minutes, with 80-90% complete absorption achieved within 30-60 minutes. The rate of absorption of alcohol and subsequent appearance of alcohol in the blood is dependent on the rate of consumption, volume consumed, the proof of the alcohol, the presence of carbonation (which speeds up absorption), the presence or absence of food in the stomach, and if the user is taking any medication. It is broken down by the liver and then eliminated from the body, and while some alcohol metabolizes in the cells lining the stomach, most breaks down in the liver. Until the liver can break down all of the alcohol, the drug will...
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