CrossFit Paleo Alcohol and Vodka

Is alcohol good for athletes?  Is alcohol “Paleo”?

Is Alcohol Paleo?  Is Vodka the best drink for people following a paleo diet?  Is Vodka best for CrossFit?  I’m not sure why these questions are coming up so often.  I would attribute it to geekery.  People with geeky tendencies often try to tweek and adjust.  And you can see this a lot in the Paleo community and among CrossFit people as well.  I was asked an interesting question by a teenager who has cut milk and juice out of his diet because they are “unhealthy”.  You don’t need juice or milk to have a healthy diet.  But the question was not about that.  The young person asked if I could buy him Vodka because he had read that it was “the healthiest drink.”

Is drinking alcohol good for athletes?

That was funny.  You might think “good try bud.”  But it wasn’t all funny because I know he is sincere in wanting to be healthy.  I mentioned the story to an adult friend who is also very health conscious and received “funny” response.  “That’s actually true.”  Where is this coming from?  I thought “maybe Mark’s Daily Apple?”  But Mark is pretty good about outlining the good and the bad.  Alcohol can be quite dangerous when used recklessly.  It can also be dangerous when used in ignorance.  Are there other teens out there who think they should be downing vodka after weighlifting?  Other adults?  Is alcohol bad for athletes?

A young boy rests between lifts at CrossFit Seven in Fort Worth, TX.  This is not the kid who asked about Vodka

Looking at current research: athletes should not drink alcohol after training.  Even moderate amounts slow recovery and reduce strength (Barnes et al. 2010).  Alcohol also seems to impair activation of muscle contraction (Barnes et al. 2012).  For a current (2010) review of what’s known and what still needs work the Vella paper is a good place to start.  You can read it free here.

Reseaerch so far, and a lot of anecdotal evidence supports, indicates that alcohol (ethanol) is not good for athletic performance or for strength gain.  Feel free and comfortable telling this to any teens who ask.

Barnes MJ, Mündel T, & Stannard SR (2010). Acute alcohol consumption aggravates the decline in muscle performance following strenuous eccentric exercise. Journal of science and medicine in sport / Sports Medicine Australia, 13 (1), 189-93 PMID: 19230764

Barnes MJ, Mündel T, & Stannard SR (2012). The effects of acute alcohol consumption and eccentric muscle damage on neuromuscular function. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme, 37 (1), 63-71 PMID: 22185621

Vella LD, & Cameron-Smith D (2010). Alcohol, athletic performance and recovery. Nutrients, 2 (8), 781-9 PMID: 22254055

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