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Expert Q&A: Will Drinking Alcohol Destroy My Fitness?

Kicking off the holiday season with a couple drinks? Learn how booze will affect your body today—and long-term.

Why is the fitness industry as a whole so anti-alcohol? Isn't there any room for a drink or two at major events? What kind impact does that really have?

The fitness industry’s anti-alcohol stance is due, in large part, to the (lack of) nutritional content contained in alcoholic beverages. Ethanol, the type of alcohol found in drinks, has toxic metabolic byproducts called acetaldehyde and acetate. Both by-products help create that queasy nauseous feeling you get when you’ve put a few too many back. Chronic ingestion of alcohol can also mess with your digestion, making it difficult for your body to absorb nutrients like amino acids and B vitamins, and impairs protein synthesis. One study also suggests that 2-3 beers per day can lower one’s testosterone levels.

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Alcohol consumption can also mess with a carefully planned-out diet. Many alcoholic drinks are calorically very dense and packed with sugar. If you’re mixing your alcohol with things like energy drinks or juices from concentrate, or even having a few glasses of wine, you are giving yourself a sugary rush with each sip. Let’s also not forget that alcohol totally impairs your judgment. Those late night post-bar pizza runs can’t be too good for your summer beach body.

However, if users are able to practice some moderation with alcohol, a drink or two on occasion will not effectively poison your body and make you irreparably fat. There are some studies that suggest moderate alcohol consumption can provide health benefits. Much has been made of the heart-healthy components of a glass of red wine, but did you know that moderate beer consumption can improve your immune response and can reduce harmful C-reactive proteins (linked to heart disease)? All in all, alcohol is harmful when overdone. It can mess with your digestive system, liver, and diet. But if done within moderation and with clear judgment, it can be beneficial, and of course a ton of fun.

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