How much alcohol can an athlete drink before it affects their performance?

alcohol and sports

As an athlete, I have never really been much of a drinker. I may have a mimosa at brunch and an occasional glass of wine, but between my physical activity, my job, and my family, I barely even have time to look at a bottle of liquor, let alone open one. That being said, alcohol is a big part of many athlete’s lives, and it is a hot button issue in the world of sports.

Despite the negative effects of alcohol, it is still one of the most widely abused drugs, even amongst professional athletes. While alcohol can be fun, it does have effects on everything, from motor function to muscle development. If you are going to imbibe, it is important to be aware of how it can affect your athletic performance. So here is a short breakdown of the effects of alcohol on sports.

Alcohol slows respiratory functions, affects the body temperature and can cause dehydration, which can affect your performance aerobically, since oxygen is needed keep muscles moving. Dehydration can lead to heat stroke and seizures, so its important to make sure you are hydrated, on and off the field.

READ MORE: Five Changes That Happen After You Give Up Alcohol

Alcohol impairs the body’s natural production of ATP, a chemical that helps your muscles store energy. It can also prevent you from getting enough sleep, and throw your hormones out of whack, especially the human growth hormone that helps us build muscle, which is obviously bad for any athlete.

Cognitive function is super important in sports, since you have to make decisions in a split second that can greatly affect whether you win or lose the game. Alcohol consumption slows motor functions, and causes slow reaction time. The effects of alcohol on the body can be felt up to three days after you drink it. So obviously don’t go drinking before a big game.

When it comes to drinking, we always say anything in moderation. If you want to kick back with a cocktail once in a while, chances are it won’t really affect your athletic performance too much. Long term effects of alcohol include cardiovascular disease, hormone imbalances, and a weakened immune system, so if you suspect your drinking is affecting your life, or keeping you from engaging in the sports that you love, you should seek out help.