Monday, January 02, 2023

On drinking and cycling

Bicycling magazine has a post up today about the effects of alchohol on the body. Here's a nice little snippet, but if you drink, even moderately, you might want to read the whole article. The statistics, some of which I was not aware of, are definitely in favor of totally abstaining.
If the health impacts of drinking seem abstract to many fit and healthy-feeling cyclists, most athletes have some awareness that ethanol impairs multiple aspects of performance, especially recovery. Probably most widely known is alcohol’s dehydrating effect, which happens because booze inhibits the antidiuretic hormone that tells the body to hold on to fluid, causing too much to be released through urine. Alcohol also impairs the uptake of glycogen in your muscles, inhibiting the refueling effect of any postride carbs you eat and possibly affecting your performance for up to a couple of days, says sports dietitian Bob Seebohar, R.D.

Most people also know that drinking disrupts sleep, and Kevin Sprouse, director of medicine and sports science for EF Pro Cycling, enlightened me on the details. Specifically, alcohol shortens deep sleep cycles and disrupts REM sleep. Deep sleep is when the body releases human growth hormone, repairs tissues, and recovers physically; REM sleep is generally when cognitive recovery happens. When drinking sabotages these cycles, the result is compromised reaction time and mental focus and the ability to, say, navigate a pack or push through a tough workout the next day. EF riders wear Whoop fitness trackers, and performance staff have seen deviations in their sleep quality—as well as in metrics such as resting heart rate and heart rate variability—after as little as a single drink. Research supports their observations on sleep quality, too.

No comments: