Society teaches us that drinking is normal and just part of our culture, but many people don't realize or choose to ignore the heavy risk and damage it causes. Studies show that even one drink per day can cause long term brain damage and add huge roadblocks to your fitness goals.
If you are a regular drinker, it's time to take a look and rethink the habit. You will be surprised at how amazing you feel when you lay off drinking.
Here are six (very convincing) reasons to ditch the drinks for your health!
1. Brain function
I wanted to start with this one because it is the most recent research out on this topic and the results are eye opening! A recent study out of the UK found that just one alcoholic drink per day can literally shrink and age your brain. And as expected, the more you drink the worse the damage.
"On average, people at age 50 who drank a pint of beer or 6-ounce glass of wine (two alcohol units) a day in the last month had brains that appeared two years older than those who only drank a half of a beer (one unit). The brains of people that age who said they drank three alcohol units a day had reductions in both white and gray matter that looked as if they had added 3.5 years to the ages of their brains."
-CNN news report on the study
These findings show that even moderate regular drinking causes serious brain problems. Ultimately, keeping your brain healthy long term and alcohol don't mix.
2. Weight gain
Drinking alcohol will make you gain weight because it's high in calories, it makes you hungry and leads to poor food choices. The calories in alcohol are "empty calories", you are providing zero nutritional value to your body while consuming excess calories. Alcohol also increases your appetite, you are more likely to make food choices that do not serve your health and eat them in larger quantities than you would normally. Then add in a hangover, and it's a perfect storm for overeating and skipping your workout. Alcohol actually slows your metabolism, weakens your muscles and makes you feel fatigued. If you have fitness and health goals drinking alcohol will not help you reach those goals, in fact it will stall or reverse your progress.
3. athletic performance
"Alcohol use is directly linked to the rate of injury sustained in sport events and appears to evoke detrimental effects on exercise performance capacity." -Better health
Studies show that drinking alcohol reduces muscle strength and growth, negatively effects the cardiovascular system and increases risk for injury. It will hinder your fitness progress and hold you back from making the gains you are looking for. If you want to grow stronger, improve athletic performance, get faster and more functional, skip the booze.
4. Sleep disruption
Alcohol and getting a good nights sleep don't mix. Getting proper sleep is essential to muscle repair and recovery, keeping your appetite in check, mental health, alertness and energy. Studies show that even one drink before bed reduces the amount of the precious REM sleep that we all need. The more you drink the worse the REM disruptions gets. You may think having that drink will help you sleep, but that is a myth. You might fall asleep faster but the sleep that counts most (REM) sleep lessens which disrupts nearly all aspects of health.
5. Increase risk of deadly diseases
The Center for Disease Control states, "There is strong scientific evidence that drinking alcohol increases the risk for cancer, including cancers of the mouth and throat, liver, breast (in women), colon and rectum, and for some types of cancer, the risk increases even at low levels of alcohol consumption (less than 1 drink in a day). The evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks, the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer." -CDC
Ditching the drinks will lower your risks for so many deadly diseases, it is just a cold hard fact.
6. worsens stress levels
I say this all the time, the one thing that never lets me down 100% of the time to relive my stress is a workout. It is proven to be the best form of stress relief. You might think that having that drink relieves your stress but that is another myth. In fact, it actually worsens your stress. Alcohol causes the release of hormones that cause stress like cortisol. It shifts your hormonal balance to increase stress. It might feel like it helps in the moment, but long term you are making your stress worse.
If you want to relieve your stress, skip the booze and get a workout. It can be any workout including walking, running, biking, yoga, a fitness class, or whatever you enjoy.
You can still be the life of the party and have fun without drinking. Don't let fear of missing out (FOMO) stop you from being healthy and achieving your fitness goals. Your long term health is more important than a short term buzz. When you are out, have a sparkling water with a lime and splash of cherry juice, or treat yourself to a "mocktail" so you still feel like you are part of the group but you will feel proud that you are the one crushing your health goals!
Amy has spent her career helping others reach their health and fitness goals. "I hope sharing my knowledge and experience with others can help someone to live a healthier and more joyous life."