Alcohol retards athletic performance, says study

January 15th, 2009 - 1:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 15 (IANS) Even moderate amounts of alcohol slows down recovery from athletic performance, besides doubling muscle performance loss, a new study has found. “If you’re there to perform, you shouldn’t be drinking alcohol,” said Matt Barnes, author of the study.

Barnes, B.Sc Honours candidate at the Massey University’s Manawatu campus, recruited recreational sportsmen and tested their muscle performance after a strenuous resistance training session, followed by either a moderate amount of alcohol in juice or the same energy content in juice alone.

Using specialised equipment at the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, the athletes’ performance was measured at 36-hours and 60 hours later.

“That’s two mornings and three mornings later,” Barnes said. “With the alcohol the loss of muscle performance was far greater - nearly twice as much. Normally you would expect to see weakness or loss in performance after strenuous exercise but the alcohol really exacerbated that.

“This shows that if you drink even moderate levels of alcohol after you use your muscles strenuously you are impairing your ability to recover and I would say if you are serious about your sport, you shouldn’t be drinking alcohol in the post-match or recovery period.”

Exercise physiologist and co-director of Sport and Exercise Science at Massey University Steve Stannard is supervising Barnes’ research. Stannard said he began thinking of undertaking research on the effect of alcohol on athletic performance after organising a sport and alcohol conference in 2005.

“It struck me at the time that, whilst alcohol was commonly consumed after competition, there was very little research on whether alcohol affected the recovery process,” according to a Massey release.

“Although many sportspeople drink, rugby is the most obvious: they go after training or the match to the pub or club to socialise or celebrate. In fact some coaches encourage that - I’ve even been told matter-of-factly by a high profile coach that ‘the spirit of the team is at the bottom of the bottle’,” said Stannard.

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