Impact of Alcohol on Performance 

Q&A for Session #6
Sports Nutrition Symposium 5.0
Wednesday June 22nd, 2022 @ 7 pm CST

Stella Volpe-Symposium 5.0 Speaker

Dr. Volpe will discuss research on how alcohol consumption affects physiological variables. In addition, Dr. Volpe will present research on the effects of alcohol consumption on exercise performance.

All live sessions are free to attend. If you want lifetime access to the sessions from Sports Nutrition Symposium 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 then check out the VIP Pass!

  • Could the gender differences be due to estrogen activating mTOR pathway?
    • Possible but has not been studied yet. Definitely needs to be explored. When we measure hormones we don't do single measures of them, they need to be measured often. I think athletes would be willing to do that.
  • Do you know the amount of alcohol that would typically have the dehydration effect? I thought it was about 10 mg ethanol
    • Probably. One thing I tell athletes is don't use alcohol for rehydration. I tell athletes if you can hold off on having a drink after exercise and have a sports drink and water and maybe a snack as well and then maybe have that beer or glass of wine. I'm not sure on the exact amount of ethanol.
  • You talked about muscle protein synthesis, what about fat metabolism? Is there a decrease in efficiency after alcohol?
    • With alcohol, you get decreased protein synthesis and slightly increased fat deposition.
  • What do you think about the non-alcoholic beers served after endurance races? Are there any benefits to the beer independent of the alcohol?
    • Something I haven't thought about. Beer does have carbohydrates so I would say there's that and could be a benefit. I don't know of research on non-alcoholic beers and whether there's an impact or not. Could be great to evaluate.
  • How small of a quantity can affect performance, sleep, recovery etc.? Is it just one drink for women and 2 drinks for men. Or can it be less?
    • It can be just one drink, but it certainly depends on the person. Similar to how caffeine can help with endurance performance but if someone is not caffeine-naïve it doesn't help them as much. With alcohol, somebody who really doesn't drink and has a glass of wine - very likely that person won't sleep at night. Depends on the person and their size. Individuals who do drink and tolerate more, don't realize that they are not getting a good depth REM sleep. Not necessarily those suffering from alcoholism, just more heavy drinkers.
  • How many hours out can a hangover affect performance?
    • There is no cure for a hangover. It depends on the individual, how much that person drank, and how much it affected them. Alcohol dehydrogenase is working hard to get rid of that alcohol, but it can only do so much. The extent of that hangover is probably worse on the inside than it is on the outside.
  • At what point does the body self-regulate and get back to a predictable predicted MPS? 72 hours?
    • Self-regulate in likely more than 72 hours once alcohol is out of the system. In some people it may take a longer time, especially in those who have liver damage, for example, alcohol dehydrogenase activity is lower. Could be more than a few days.
  • I’ve had athletes ask me: what’s the “healthiest” kind of alcohol? (Lol college) but what would you say?
    • The best alcohol is beer if you are talking about athletic performance since it has carbohydrates. If you're talking about overall health, we know red wine has antioxidants which can also help in recovery.
  • Does alcohol increase the risk for soft tissue injuries? I believe I have read a study about this before but am wondering if there is new research showing this and your thoughts?
    • It does increase the risk for soft tissues injuries. Its two-fold with alcohol: In and of itself alcohol can cause it because it decreases bone density, increases cortisol, and decreases certain hormones. Other side of this - the decrease of cognitive function caused by alcohol, which may lead to more injuries if there's a fall, for example.
  • We've all seen ads claiming electrolytes reduce effects of hangover. Thoughts?
    • No truth to that. They do give you hydration back which is helpful but overall do not make anything better for people with hangovers.