Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alcohol and Performance

Written by Erica Melling, U of H dietetic intern.

As athletes, you work incredibly hard during the week. So, I completely understand the need to have fun on the weekends! However, the competitive mindset that most athletes have can be dangerous. Athletes often have an all-or-nothing attitude, thinking that—to quote Will Farrell—“If you’re not first, your last.” Name that movie! But, getting back on track, this belief that things have to be taken to the furthest degree can lead to binge drinking on weekends. You spend hours in the weight room and buy special performance supplements just to get the slightest edge on the competition, and yet every weekend you put substances that do the exact opposite into your body. You are all adults, but you should know how alcohol affects your athletic performance so that you can make an informed decision for yourself. Alcohol intake:
  • Dehydrates your body causing poor performance, fatigue, and muscle cramps
  • Suppresses fat use as a fuel during activity
  •  Increases risk for nutrient deficiencies by interfering with absorption of vitamins and minerals
  •  Adds empty calories that often lead to weight gain
  •  Interferes with sleep patterns by reducing time and quality of sleep
I was a college student not too long ago, and I realize that many of you are going to choose to drink, BUT if you do drink, do so moderately. Leave your all-or-nothing mindset on the field. All I ask is that you have 1-2 drinks instead of 6 or 7. The effects mentioned above will be much more manageable if you do.
Have fun by all means; just have the willpower to control yourself when it comes to drinking. And don’t say that drinking is the only fun thing to do on the weekends in Houston! I just moved here and already I have found more things I want to do than I will probably ever have time for. Here are some ideas of fun things to do on weekends:
1.      Go to a concert at House of Blues
2.      Play mini-golf at Discovery Green on a course created by Houston artists
3.      Rent a pedal boat, ride the train, or go for a hike at Hermann Park.

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