Alcohol and athletic performance | Cultivation of alcohol by bicycle

More often than not, after coming out of the woods in the parking lot of your local mountain bike trail system, you can count on a group of runners with their hatches down and beers in hand. The consumption of alcohol in cyclocross races is certainly well promoted, and at the start of the Tour de France it was not unusual for riders to poke their cans with a glass of brandy. And, there is even bikepacking routes where craft breweries are heralded as much as Dirt Heroes.

All of this to say that while alcohol isn’t the best hydration strategy, it’s certainly woven into the fabric of cycling culture. And it turns out that the link between fitness and happy hour maybe a lot louder than you think. Regular athletes drink more, a new study found, and it’s not just college-aged athletes who cheer more often.

The study, explained

The research, published in the journal Medicine and science in sport and exercise, examined data from more than 38,000 healthy people, ages 20 to 86, who participated in the Cooper Center longitudinal study.

To group people according to their drinking habits, people who drank three drinks or less per week in the 18 to 64 age group were considered for this study to be light drinkers; up to seven weekly drinks for women assigned at birth and 14 for those assigned to men at birth was moderate; and drinking above these numbers placed the participants in the heavy group.

The conclusions of the study? There was a strong link between better cardio condition and higher alcohol consumption in the general population. This was determined based on cardiorespiratory fitness metrics, such as VO2 max determined with a treadmill test to exhaustion and self-reported exercise habits. For women assigned at birth, being in good physical shape doubled their chances of being a moderate or heavy drinker. For men assigned at birth, their odds increased by 63 percent. (Women and men assigned at birth who had moderate fitness levels were 58% and 42%, respectively, more likely to be moderate or heavy drinkers.) Study participants reached the threshold for dependence on the alcohol.

Keep in mind that this study can only show a correlation and doesn’t prove causation, so we can’t say for sure that being more active causes someone to drink more. It also relied on self-reported alcohol consumption, which can introduce errors into the data collected, as people typically do not report what they drink (or eat, in other studies) with precision. of 100%. And, by studying only healthy participants, we don’t know whether less “fit” people who train more to try and get fitter are also more likely to drink more alcohol. There may also be disagreements over what should be classified as a “light”, “moderate” or “heavy” drinker.

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The link between alcohol consumption and higher fitness levels

You might think the link between fitness and alcohol consumption is surprising, because, after all, today’s horseback buffs don’t tend to drink more kale smoothies and kombucha as part of an overall healthy lifestyle?

“Although we have not explored the underlying mechanisms in this article, the psychological literature has reported that there is a ‘licensing effect’, where achieving one’s goals – for example, running a 10k – results in a” licensed “to engage in ‘vice’ behavior – for example, drinking,” said Kerem Shuval, Ph.D., lead author of the study and fellow of the Cooper Institute Ride a bike. It’s the same reasoning as eating a fatty pizza after a tough run. Subconsciously sweating gives you the green light to please yourself. This study suggests that people may be inclined to drink more on days when they are more physically active.

Personality traits could also be at play here.

“Physical training can reinforce the same sensation-seeking behavior that prompts people to drink,” explains J. Leigh Leasure, Ph.D., director of the Brain Health & Plasticity Lab at the University of Texas at Austin.

Her research has linked both exercise and drinking behavior to higher levels of sensation seeking, which is a trait that floods the brain with dopamine.

“To prolong the good feelings of an exercise-induced increase in dopamine, people can drink alcohol after their workout,” she says. “In addition, the two activities are often done in a social setting, and social interactions can also be rewarding, so it is possible to combine three wellness activities by exercising and drinking with friends.”

The work of Leasures has also describes at least five patterns to combine exercise and alcohol:

  • Work hard – play hard
  • Socialize
  • Stress relief
  • Body image
  • Guilt

    For example, a stressful run can lead to drinking afterwards, or feelings of guilt from binge drinking can lead to more exercise. But Leasure says she and her team don’t yet have all the data needed to fully define these relationships.

    There is also an association between athletics and the promotion of alcohol in many countries, including the United States. Alcoholic beverage companies advertise a lot at televised sporting events and provide key sponsorship to many sports leagues. For some bike races and events, beer and other liquor companies offer some direct financial support and even distribute samples. Research has documented an association between exposure to alcohol advertising and subsequent alcohol consumption, so it is possible that athletes, including cyclists, were influenced by the advertising or sponsorship efforts of beverage companies alcoholic.

    The impact of alcohol on performance

    Hitting the trails after consuming alcohol won’t do your hike a favor, but Dan Benardot, Ph.D., RD, author of Advanced sports nutrition and a practice professor at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Human Health, says any amount of alcohol is a performance stalemate.

    “Just one drink a day can reduce reaction time and coordination and negatively impact energy metabolism,” Benardot explains. Ride a bike.

    He adds that alcohol is pro-inflammatory, which can limit good recovery and the benefits you’re trying to get from exercise, and when consumed in large amounts, can increase the excretion of magnesium from the body. body, which has a negative impact on muscle functioning.

    Some research also shows that alcohol can impact your rate of post-workout muscle protein synthesis – the process by which muscle builds and repairs itself after exercise and a notable marker of recovery.

    Having an ice cold beer after a walk might help your rehydration efforts, but only if you opt for something less alcoholic and not too much. A Systematic review on exercise-related beer consumption published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism have found that beer, especially low-alcohol options with less than 4% BAC, can work as a post-workout moisturizer because you get fluid along with carbs and sodium.

    But does that mean beer can replace your sports drink or plain water? Not so fast. Once you go over the 4% alcohol content or drink two or more drinks, the study authors say this is where the benefits start to wane.

    “Alcohol is a diuretic, so you end up peeing more than you consume, [and] it ultimately leaves you even more dehydrated, ”explains Benardot.

    It’s recommended to drink postrid beer with other non-alcoholic liquids, but ultimately Benardot says beer shouldn’t be seen as an adequate recovery drink. There are other ways to rehydrate, which can include non-alcoholic beer, water, or a sports drink, that don’t require searching for a designated driver.

    How to know if you might be addicted to alcohol

    While it’s okay to celebrate a well-done ride with a cold or two or enjoy a glass of Chardonnay every now and then with dinner, if you meet any of the criteria for abuse or addiction to alcohol, such as skipping drinking activities, regularly drinking more than you intended, or experiencing withdrawal symptoms – described here by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it is best to seek help.

    Admittedly, more moderate and controlled alcohol consumption is difficult to categorize as “healthy” or “unhealthy” because there is so much vacillating evidence regarding its impact on health. However, moderate consumption of no more than one to two glasses per day – a single glass is generally defined as the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer; 5 ounces of wine; or 1.5 ounces of spirits distilled at 80 degrees – may reduce the risk of heart disease, and possibly also cognitive decline and type 2 diabetes, some research suggests.

    Although moderate alcohol consumption may have benefits for heart health, this report suggests that the risk of certain cancers from daily alcohol consumption may outweigh these benefits and, therefore, overall increase your risk of premature death.

    There are so many nuances regarding alcohol and health that one can draw a firm conclusion based on the available evidence from observational studies. For example, when alcohol is consumed as part of a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, it seems less risk to health than when consumed as part of a less healthy diet.

    Different forms of alcohol can also have different health effects. The many antioxidants in red wine may give it an edge over spirits and lagers that are less antioxidant-rich. Context also plays a role: do you drink alone or in a social setting with your cavalry buddies? Do you spread your consumption throughout the week? (FWIW, that might be less risky than going all-in once or twice, say after a big run.)

    If you think you are addicted to alcohol, do not hesitate to seek help from family, friends, a primary care physician, or someone working in mental health, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or addiction counselor. .

    You can also call SAMHSA National Helpline —1-800-662-HELP (4357) —which is a free and confidential counseling and information service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for people with mental disorders and / or drug addiction.

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