We are big believers in approaching all things in a balanced way, however when it comes to mixing a few alcoholic beverages and exercise these two things do not go well together in a balanced way at all. Not only is it important to avoid exercising when you have consumed alcohol, it is also important to give yourself ample time to get the alcohol out of your system before a workout in order to avoid an increased risk of injury or diminished benefits of your workout.
Alcohol increases dehydration and drains your immune system. When working out with a depleted immune system the increase in stress that exercise places on the body can further drive down immune function when coupled with alcohol. Alcohol impacts brain function, which makes coordination decrease. It also impacts your muscles and leads to muscle weakness and even cramping. When you have alcohol in your system not only are you decreasing the efficacy of your workout you are also increasing your risks of injury. Additionally, alcohol can increase blood pressure and affects the circulatory system which impacts the way your body pumps blood throughout your entire body.
The bottom line is that alcohol and exercise are a bad mix! Before a workout, alcohol should be avoided!
Drinking too much and too often is another pattern that has a negative impact on the benefits and progress of your exercise program over time. The human body is incredibly resilient. You can still make some gains under less-than optimal conditions, however it is not ideal and in fact becomes counter-productive if alcohol consumption is consistently high, especially without proper amounts of time to process it out of your system before exercising.
What is the proper amount of time to wait before exercising? While the majority of alcohol is processed out of the body between 12-48 hours, some traces can still be found up to 80 hours after you consume alcohol. That being said, I am not recommending that you completely avoid alcohol for 80 hours after drinking alcohol. A safe bet is waiting 24 hours and making sure that during that time you properly re-hydrate and eat plenty of nutrient dense foods as well as protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats!