Alcohol and Athletes. Is it Really that Big of a Deal? | Dynamic Fitness
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Alcohol and Athletes. Is it Really that Big of a Deal?

Underage Drinking: Is this a concern for high school athletes?

We all know the legal drinking age in the United States is 21 right? Last we checked, there are not that many 21 year olds running around high schools. Why is alcohol and binge drinking even a topic of discussion in this population? No matter how these student athletes acquire alcohol (fake ID, sibling, older friend, etc.), this is a serious matter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that people aged 12-20 drink 11% of the alcohol consumed in the United States (2016). They also shed light that on average these same underage drinkers consume more drinks per occasion than adult drinkers. Aside from the 189,00 alcohol-induced emergency visits from this same population and the legality of the situation, Dynamic Fitness High Performance Kinesiology (DFHPK) wants to shed light on how this can alter athletic performance.

Alcohol and Performance

The American College of Sports Medicine released a position statement in 2016 stating, misuse of alcohol can interfere with athletic goals in a variety of ways related to the negative effects of acute intake of alcohol on the performance of, or recovery from, exercise, or the chronic effects of binge drinking on health and management of body composition.70 Besides the calorie load of alcohol (7 kcal/g), alcohol suppresses lipid oxidation, increases unplanned food consumption and may compromise the achievement of body composition goals.

Because we are trying to shed light on the topic and not write a research paper, we are pulling from a few highly acknowledged organizations and not siting 15+ research articles to back these claims. There are many physiological, nutritional, and performance-based organizations that support these claims if you would like to conduct further research.

Alcohol and Muscle Protein Synthesis

This information is gathered from The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research distributed from the world-renowned National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Most of the DFHPK athletes go on to play at some collegiate level. Their knowledge of alcohol consumption probably has come from the health class point of view and all the general physiological implications. The NSCA states College athletes are at a greater risk for binge drinking than nonathletes and over 54 percent report drinking alcohol during both their competitive and off seasons with approximately 49 percent drinking 5 or more drinks in 1 sitting. What exactly is muscle protein synthesis and how exactly does alcohol consumption disrupt it?

Protein synthesis is the foundation for muscle growth (training-induced hypertrophy) and recovery in skeletal muscle tissue. This concept is intricate and involves several dependent and independent elements. Consuming alcohol adversely effects recovery from muscle damage and highlights loss of dynamic and static strength. Research suggests that this disruption mechanism reduces protein synthesis, thus negatively playing a role in recovery and hypertrophic gains.


Athletes drinking prior to competition (mostly 48 hours up until competition) will not be fully recovered from their last resistance training session, exhibit decreased strength, and reaction times are slower. These factors obviously increase the susceptibility of injury. Keep in mind, this does not even include the high percentage of high school athletes with lack of sleep and poor nutritional habits. These contraindicative factors plus alcohol present a recipe for injury as well as decreased performance potential. If you want to perform at peak levels and decrease injury stay away from alcohol.