Bike and Alcohol: How many cyclists can resist the charm of a beer in the company when they reach a pass or a good glass of wine after completing their journey? But what are the pros and cons of drinking alcohol while cycling? Let’s see together!
As a practical experiment, Simon first wanted to compare when he was relaxed and the time he climbed into a house the next day for a hangover, his heart rate and his emotions. Compared to the sober test, when cycling the next day after the hangover, it took about 3 minutes longer with a lower heart rate, which is not a small achievement, climbing less than 5 km at an average slope of 6-7%. The heart rate may be lower or higher than normal during heavy drinking, which may vary from person to person. However, performance is negatively affected when we drink too much.
Bike and Alcohol: Disadvantages
Post-Exercise Recovery – Alcohol is bad for healing: Our liver is forced to eliminate alcohol and related toxins. Being busy doing this, most of the cells in our body are unable to produce the glycogen needed for the synthesis of glucose, the main source of energy.
Dehydration – Alcohol is a powerful diuretic: after each gram of ethanol ingested, the production of urine equals 10 ml.
It is best to drink low-alcohol beer or drinks like Panache or Radler (2-4% alcohol) because they are good and support thirst-quenching fluid recovery, but be careful: it is always good. Eat a snack that boosts glycogen synthesis of sodium lost through sweat (if you eat salty foods like chips or peanuts) and prevent alcohol absorption. It is better to avoid wine and spirits: low liquid content and high concentration of alcohol can make dehydration worse.
Effect on hormones – Alcohol inhibits the secretion of testosterone, which is essential for muscle growth.
Alcohol increases the secretion of cortisol, a stress hormone that reduces muscle mass and the function of the immune system. The organism, which is already weakened after play, becomes even more susceptible to infections when playing alcohol.
Calories and body weight – Alcohol has many calories, exactly 7 kcal per gram of alcohol, and “empty calories” because they do not provide essential nutrients.
The liver converts alcohol into acetate, a component of acetic acid. The body, therefore, uses acetic acid for energy instead of fat, which is stored in the body: it does not like us if we try to lose weight.
Effect on thermal regulation – Alcohol acts as an external vasodilator, further increasing fluid loss through evaporation, as well as disturbing thermoregulation, lowering body temperature.
Quality of sleep – Alcohol worsens the quality of sleep… And quality of sleep is important for muscle recovery.
Reduced Muscle Strength – Alcohol reduces muscle growth and strength for several days. Especially in anaerobic sports such as weightlifting, muscle strength is essential and athletes can reduce their muscle performance by up to 50% after 2 days of moderate alcohol evening.
Bike and Alcohol: The Benefit
It has been proven that moderate consumption of alcohol has real health benefits.
Socialization – There is nothing better than a good beer in the company when cycling!
Reduction of stress – Moderate alcohol consumption reduces brain tension and helps to relax. On the other hand, excess alcohol increases stress.
Moderate alcohol consumption increases the level of HDL (“good” cholesterol) in the blood and prevents LDL (“bad” cholesterol) from clogging the arteries, helping them to “relax” and lowering blood pressure. Other studies show that certain types of alcohol help prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Red wine offers the greatest benefits: resveratrol, anti-cholesterol and antioxidants, found only in red wine, contributing to a moderate shelf life; Always red wine is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease and help to make intestinal microbes more varied. Also, wine contains plant compounds called saponins, which help the body absorb cholesterol.
Red wine contains about half the daily average of the saponins consumed (white wine is low) and the higher the alcohol content of the wine, the more saponins there are. However, for beer lovers, some British scientists have found that hops lovers, who care about sports training and nutrition and hydration, can absorb up to 30% of vitamin B6 in blood plasma, which can prevent heart disease.
So what to do?
In the early stages alcohol causes dehydration effects, but, within 24 hours, these effects fade. The important thing is to lose weight in fluids equivalent to 3% within 4 hours of consuming alcohol, which can have a negative impact on performance and be dangerous even in very hot weather. It is not a good idea to drink alcohol during the hours leading up to a long ride or race. But drinking plenty of water and plenty of carbohydrates, a glass (one!) Of wine at dinner on Christmas Eve will not cause any problems.
Whether it’s wine, a pint of beer or a shot of whiskey, it’s a good idea to limit yourself to a maximum of 14 glasses per week.
However, it is important to remember that it is not easy to establish the right dose for everyone, as the reaction to alcohol may not be the same for everyone. In general, large, muscular people may consume more alcohol than smaller, thinner ones. Women are more sensitive than men to the effects of alcohol due to hormonal and body fat differences and due to the low levels of alcohol dehydrogenase and the liver enzyme that breaks down alcohol. Long story short, everyone needs to understand how alcohol affects him and how it affects his performance.