How Alcohol Really Affects Your Workout


Reviewed by: Erica Grandjean, APD, BNutr&Diet

Let’s face it: alcohol is big a part of many people’s lives. And by big, we don’t mean excessive – it’s become so ubiquitous and commonplace, it’s hard not to drink.

A cheeky glass of bubbles at a family lunch, or a vodka tonic on a Friday night is pretty normal for most people.

However, if you are on a weight loss journey, alcohol becomes problematic. Not only does it contain empty calories, it can greatly impact your training both the day after drinking, and in the long term.

Alcohol also provides nearly as much energy per gram as fat: 7 calories per gram compared to 9 calories per gram for fat.

Here’s alcohol really affects your workout the morning after.


Alcohol is a diuretic, so drinking too much will lead to dehydration as your kidneys work overtime to produce more urine.

Exercising after a night of drinking will worsen the dehydration due to an increased body temperature and sweat.

This dehydration can lead to reduced performance, overheating and excessive sweating.

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If you can muster the energy to train, you will feel much less motivated than usual.

Your body will be dehydrated and craving carbohydrates due to the (probably) crappy sleep you’ve had.

Your blood will contain less glucose and impede your usual oomph by 10-20%.

Poor fat-burning

After a night of drinking, the alcohol in your system is metabolised first, which slows down fat burning.

It increases fatty acids in your blood so you burn fewer calories, and also acts a diuretic, increasing the production of lactic acid, worsening exercise fatigue.

Too much alcohol in our diets can hinder how much body fat we can shift in total, so avoiding these as much as possible makes for a much quicker result.

Avoiding alcohol is also a great idea if washboard abs are your goal, as drinking this can mean extra calories, fewer inhibitions and an increased appetite.

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Diminished strength

Not only will you feel tired and dehydrated, you’ll have much less strength than normal. This is due to the body’s inability to clear out the lactic acid efficiently after a boozy night.

Less effective ‘afterburn’

So what exactly is afterburn? In a nutshell, it’s the energy your body burns after your workout in order to restore oxygen levels. It can be an effective calorie-burning tool.

Sugar and alcohol are toxins and can mute the impact of afterburn.

Avoid these before, during and right after your workouts to maximise your results and give your body a chance to do its thing.

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