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Friday, December 28, 2012


No matter what end of year religious holiday you celebrated, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other, a lot of eating was involved, especially all the holiday treats. But they are coming to an end and you are trying to recover in one week, for that last drinking binge to celebrate the end of the year, and a beginning of a new year with maybe goals of becoming more fit and getting those results that have been put off for a long time, how much damage to your metabolism do you think you have already done? Or maybe one of your New Year resolution is to stop drinking, and think that one last large binge will put you off alcohol for time planned to get the results. How will that affect your results in the future? Do you really know what are the effects of alcohol on your body’s metabolism especially after binge drinking? Does it affect your training? Do you know how it can affect your body and your training?

If you were smart, you followed some of the tips given by last week’s Blog (Custom Fitness). But first of all you have to understand how the production of energy occurs in the body and how the body uses it. The metabolism is a series of chemical reactions inside our body, produces energy through Anabolism, building stones and the breakdown, Catabolism. Weightlifters mostly use the anaerobic systems (which doesn’t use oxygen) to produce energy, which mostly consists of the breakdown of glucose (product from the digestion of carbs). This is part of the anabolic process, and re-using stores (glycogen) from muscles or liver, in Glycolysis is a catabolic process.

Energy for physical activity deriving from Glycolysis also produces pyruvate and lactate. Without the presence of oxygen (or under 2 minutes of physical activity) pyruvate is transformed into lactate, electrons (which are carried by enzymes that can be used in Aerobic production of energy) and water. We feel the effects of lactate accumulation on the muscle, when we feel the burning sensation in a certain muscle group. This occurs because there is no oxygen to carry it to be used to produce more energy. But if oxygen is present, then that lactate that also has been stored can be transformed in to pyruvate to be used for aerobic exercise.

But with the presence of alcohol (ethanol) there is an accumulation of the enzymes that carry the oxygen and prevents the reaction with lactate. It also provides the right environment for the synthesis of fatty acids causing it to accumulate. Without the transformation of lactate into pyruvate, it can’t enter the aerobic system to produce energy. This causes the accumulation of fatty acids, which means accumulation of fat over the muscles, especially in the abdominal area and resistance to insulin by the muscle (5th Edition Biochemistry – J.M. Berg, J. L Tymoczko, L. Stryer) causing protein synthesis, and fat burning to stop. And if you think that alcohol will just go through your system, and your body will quickly return to your original metabolic state before drinking, you are fooling yourself, for it contains 6 calories/gram of metabolic energy. Consider that 1 serving of any alcoholic beverage can increase the amount of calories added to your total consumption per day. Especially at this time of year, who can say they will only have one drink?

So if you have been drinking during the whole holidays, what it has been doing directly on your workout is reducing blood flow to your muscles, and accumulating fats in the bloodstream, increases the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, and causes lack of oxygen to the brain (National Institute of Health). Physically you will feel weakness, cramping, and increased friction on joints due to dehydration, and longer to recover from the workout. Through other metabolism pathways, prolonged alcohol consumption causes the process of other enzymes (Acetyl CoA) to be blocked. This leads to the production of ketone bodies that are released in the blood causing an acidic condition. This acidic condition could cause liver failure.

So before you go out partying, think twice about how much drinking you are going to do, for it will be more effort to get back on track.

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