You know the feeling – pounding head, dry mouth, achiness, and nausea. You may not remember everything that you did last night, but your knees are all scraped up and it feels like you swallowed road- kill. Yes,  you did it again, you drank too much.

Although small amounts of alcohol have been shown to give a short-term boost in free testosterone levels and increase glycogen uptake, these benefits are short lived. After approximately twenty minutes of “slamming them back”, all hell breaks loose in your system.

While cocktails with buddies on Friday nights may reduce stress and promote a sense of well being, making this a nightly ritual is strictly taboo for serious body builders, athletes, or anyone who values their good health. Alcohol is toxic and a host of physical abnormalities can arise as a result of “tying one on”. Alcohol compromises your strength, endurance, recovery capabilities, aerobic capabilities, ability to metabolize fat, and muscle growth. In addition, overdrinking inhibits protein synthesis needed for muscle fibers to recover and grow. And a nasty hangover can turn you into a cranky old bitch at the gym, at work, and at home. 

Besides wreaking havoc with the hard work you’ve done in the gym, alcohol can also affect your brain and nervous system. In small doses, alcohol produces a relaxing effect, reduces tension, and lowers inhibitions. But it can also slow reflexes, impair concentration and reduce co-ordination. 

Alcohols’ effects on the heart and circulatory systems are numerous. Overdrinking will make you throw in the towel after just a few minutes of cardio because your endurance will be zilch. When consuming alcoholic beverages your heat loss increases, because alcohol dilates the blood vessels. This heat loss can cause your muscles to get cold and, as a result, become slower and weaker during contractions.

In addition, alcohol can cause several gastric, digestive, and nutritional irregularities. This drug causes a release of insulin that will eventually make you store more fat. Since alcohol consumption can interfere with the absorption of many nutrients, it is possible to become anemic and deficient in the B vitamins. Your B’s are responsible for a healthy metabolism and energy supply.

Because the liver is the organ that detoxifies alcohol, the more booze you swill, the harder your liver must work to do its’ job. This additional stress on the liver can damage and even destroy some liver cells.

But wait, the buzz on booze isn’t all a downer! Recent research indicates that red wine may have cholesterol fighting ingredients. In addition to resveratrol, the antioxidant known to help reduce cholesterol levels, red wine also contains saponins that are believed to bind bad cholesterol (LDL), preventing its buildup and accumulation. Best sources include red zinfandel, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, all red wines.

The holidays are nearly upon us! If you must drink, do so responsibly and in moderation.