There’re 24 hours in a day. There’re 24 bottles in a case of beer.
Can this be just a coincidence?
Sport and alcohol don’t get along that well in most cases. Why? Tutorial Thursday #24 will explain.
Pure alcohol has energy. And with 7 kcal/g it possesses a relatively great amount of energy. Why then is it so unqualified to serve as fuel? Because it is not only when we are physically active but also in the daily challenges of life that alcohol keeps getting in the way of the liver. The liver, however, is very important in the big theater that is our metabolism. You could see it as the director. So let’s clarify first what the liver does throughout the day.
Your Metabolism, a play in four acts*
The first act starts when we consume food and it will be split and mostly absorbed in the digestive tract. The liver has to take care of carbohydrates and fats in the second act. Carbohydrates will enter the blood stream in the form of glucose or fructose (a monosaccharide) and then be transported to the liver. Now, the liver starts storing energy in the form of glycogen. Glycogen is used to easily and quickly store and release energy. So it is glycogen that will supply the body with energy in desperate times.
The liver can generate up to 150 g of glycogen in order to use it to stabilize the blood-glucose-level. If, for whatever reason, more carbohydrates should get to the liver these will be transformed into energy and stored in the form of fat in the third act. All of these processes must obviously also work in the opposite direction in a potential fourth act to assure survival in the quite possible case of food shortage or even absence.
Basically, when times are tough. Or under great physical stress.
Alcohol the heckler
If we add alcohol to this process that our director has spent so much time and effort putting together it will get mixed up. Alcohol will act just like a heckler who will mess up a theater performance and drunkenly stagger on stage. Now the first thing to do is get that heckler off stage. And that can take some time…
Since alcohol is a cytotoxin (cell toxin) it will disturb a lot of metabolism processes. Thus, the liver will make it its first priority to get rid of it as fast as possible. A healthy liver can break down 0.15 per mill alcohol in an hour. During this time all other processes will be neglected which has negative effects on the whole metabolism and, thus, on the provision of energy. With just 1 per mill alcohol in your blood the liver will be absent from rehearsal for 6.5 hours.
Additionally, alcohol will inhibit the production of the growth hormone somatropin (STH). This will slow down the regeneration of cells and weaken the immune system. Also, you will produce less testosterone which will make muscle growth more difficult.
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons to keep away from alcohol before, during or after sport. Yes, you’ve heard correctly! To pass on alcohol after sport is the way to go if you want improved performance and a better regeneration. I know, all hobby soccer teams will immediately try to forget that this article ever existed… But with abstaining from alcohol after a game you will support your body in the recovery process and in regeneration. This exciting and well-thought out play that is your metabolism will only go as smooth as your director, the liver, has planned it if you stay away from alcohol. Why not instead try a non-alcoholic weiss beer? The only way for you to integrate alcohol into your training regimen is using beer cans as the training weight in the brand-new blackPack ESY.
In this spirit,
*: The number four is chosen totally randomly because Benni has absolutely no clue about metabolism processes and anything related but insisted on using a number in the headline to reinforce the theater metaphor. Please send all your angry complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org.