How a runner can make it through the holidays without giving up booze


Let’s start by understanding why drinking a lot of alcohol leads to such unpleasant consequences as weight gain and a hangover in the morning.

Alcohol slows metabolism. Alcohol breaks down faster than food, and since alcohol is toxic to our body, all body forces will be directed primarily to neutralize the drink.

The decomposition of alcohol occurs with the release of considerable energy: more than 700 kilocalories per 100 g of pure alcohol. Since the body has already obtained energy, the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates you snacked on are more likely to settle on the sides.

Alcohol increases appetite. It would seem that the system responsible for the feeling of hunger and satiety does not count the calories received from alcohol and does not calm down?

It’s not that simple: According to research, high levels of ethanol activate brain cells that are normally activated by the neuropeptide AgRP (agouti-related protein). It is sometimes called the appetite hormone – AgRP is synthesized in the hypothalamus and is considered one of the main regulators of eating behavior.

Increased appetite + weakened control under the influence of alcohol – and as a result, you will choose pizza, burgers and other junk food as snacks, which, as we have already found out, will be deposited under form of extra pounds.

Bad morning. Drinking alcohol causes hangovers (hello, Captain Obvious!), but it also has a detrimental effect on sleep quality.

Alcohol blocks REM sleep. It is in this phase that a person most qualitatively rests when sleeping. Hence the result – a “crumpled” night’s rest and a feeling of weakness after waking up.

In addition, in the morning, we feel all the delights of acetaldehyde poisoning: our liver tries to eliminate alcohol from the body. If it is small, the decomposition occurs completely, into carbon dioxide and water.

When there are too many drinks, the liver cannot cope with the work, and the alcohol oxidation process can stop at the first stage of the reaction, as a result of which acetaldehyde is formed. Consequences – dizziness, weakness, nausea.

Dehydration. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, thus causing dehydration – tissues in the body begin to dehydrate and shrink.

Also, under the influence of alcohol, the production of growth hormones and testosterone is inhibited, which negatively affects muscle growth and even potency.

Some scarier details in the article on how alcohol affects an athlete’s body.

How to Minimize the Negative Effects of a Feast

Limit your fat intake. Apart from the fact that it is fat that is most likely to be deposited as excess weight, it also places an extra load on the liver.

If you don’t want a digestive system strike, skip the mayonnaise salad and opt for vegetables, lean white meat and slow carbohydrates.

Vegetable salads create a feeling of satiety in the stomach, and the risk of overeating is reduced (here we considered how much you have to run to “burn” traditional New Year’s dishes).

Choose the “poison” correctly, based on calorie content, sugar content and strength. Of course, harmless alcohol does not exist, but it is quite possible to choose drinks that will bring less harm.

Dry white and red wines (64 kcal/100 ml) and light beer (37–42 kcal/100 ml) are considered the lowest in calories.

And now let’s compare with the “heavyweights” – vodka 230 kcal / 100 ml, soft liquors – from 300 kcal / 100 ml, cognac – 220 kcal / 100 ml.

Avoid complex cocktails – they contain a lot of sugar and are a “mixture” of different types of alcohol and drinks of different degrees, and this combination does not add optimism in the morning.

The strongest hangovers are caused by strong drinks obtained by long exposure (cognac, whiskey, brandy) and all types of sparkling wines.

Drink more water good here again. It’s simple: the more fluid in the body, the lower the alcohol concentration and, therefore, the risk of poisoning.

Drink alcohol with water, herbal teas or fruit drinks, avoid packaged juices – it’s just a sugar warehouse.

Before going to bed, it is good to drink a few glasses of water with lemon – this will help to cope with morning thirst. Give up coffee, as it also acts as a diuretic.

Move. Take short breaks between New Year’s toasts, it is optimal to periodically go out into the cold, or at least air the room. The lungs are filled with oxygen, which contributes to the faster oxidation of ethyl alcohol and its elimination from the body.

Make sure you have a good breakfast in the morning. Even if something went wrong the night before and in the morning you don’t even want to look at food, a healthy breakfast will help you overcome the horrors of a hangover and improve your well-being.

Choose eggs (they contain amino acids that protect the liver from toxins), chicken soup or oatmeal (soothes a raging stomach).

And do not load the body with spicy, fatty or salty foods.

Drink to…. well, you have already understood. Kefir, unsweetened compote or weak tea are also good.

The main question that worries a runner is should you go to training with a hangover?

Spoiler – no. And that’s why.

Sometimes it seems that “now I will run away, and all the symptoms of an unpleasant state will “come out” with sweat, and at the same time I will work on everything that I ate the day before.” But it does not work.

Damion Martins, MD, sports medicine physician and director of health and sports medicine at the Atlantic Health System of America says:

“Trying to do this dehydrates your body even more, leading to more harmful effects.”

As mentioned, alcohol has a diuretic effect, and when you drink, the body begins to extract water from the blood plasma. In addition, dehydration will worsen and the body will draw water from the brain to support the work of other organs.

When the brain doesn’t have enough water, it “stretch” the cell membranes, causing the familiar hangover headache. That is why jogging in conditions of lack of fluid and electrolytes does not look like a benefit, but a mockery of one’s own body.

“If you’re running hungover, you’re at higher risk for muscle cramps, sprains, and electrolyte imbalances,” says Martins.

In addition, in a state of a hangover, our body experiences an increased load on the heart, blood pressure and heart rate increase, concentration decreases, and coordination deteriorates.

In addition, alcohol reduces sensitivity to pain, which can react negatively after a run – there is a risk of injury and at first you don’t even feel it.

There are, of course, exceptions caused, first of all, by genetic factors that determine the degree of the body’s resistance to alcohol. So it’s entirely possible that while you’re in the “vegetable” state, your luckiest friend might have a moderate run. Moreover, these lucky ones, thanks to the release of endorphins in their brains, at least temporarily, feel better after such training.

The best thing to do is to replace a run with a walk. Minimal activity will help cope with a hangover, your head will not bang with every step, and fresh air is always useful.

You can go workout in the pool or do some exercises. It is also better to postpone classes in the gym until better times: you can switch to serious loads 24-30 hours after heavy drinking.