Let’s face it. For most Australians, we’ve played sport from a very young age. Many of us continue to play competitive sports for our entire lives. Obviously most athletes have a peak age they reach for competition, which in males is about thirty, and in females about 33.
I myself am a professional athlete. I compete in Mixed Martial Arts, one of the most physically taxing and as most will agree, brutal sports there are. And let me tell you, there is nothing worse than trying to even complete a training session of grappling or striking after an all-night bender!
Another simple truth is that being Australian, we are very social people. And we like to drink. I cannot name any person that I know at home that will not indulge in a drink on a Friday or Saturday night with their friends over a meal, me included! But my opinions on alcohol and training are simple; alcohol will affect every aspect of your training. It affects your ability to recover, it affects your ability to think and coordinate your mind and body, it affects your liver and your digestive systems, it affects the ability of your body to metabolise fats and proteins, and for those like myself who are involved in sports where weight and weight loss are very important, it can affect your ability to lose weight.
Without needing to indulge into scientific evidence, the evidence against alcohol and athletic performance well outweighs the benefits. Research indicates that drinking a glass or two or red wine every couple of nights can help reduce blood pressure, but for those of us who are competitive athletes, strict dieting is also important, so blood pressure (unless the athlete has a pre-existing condition) should never be an issue.
For those training for professional sports, one of the best ways to learn about this subject is to listen to people and gather from those with experience. So here are a few quotes from people who have been training and competing as professionals.
Rob Hill (Australia) Pro MMA Fighter -“Alcohol, like everything else can be done in moderation. However, for those who are competing, regardless of any sport, it will slow your fitness, your progress and your recovery. There is nothing that can affect you as badly as alcohol unless you are injured or sick, and nobody wants that. Alcohol also affects your immune and nervous system, which makes it harder to recover between sessions, and means you can become more prone to becoming sick. Steer clear for at least a couple of months before and event, and enjoy one or two for a reward after a fight or an event.”
Robert Bondy (England) Pro Boxer – ” No go, whatsoever. If you are training for a fight camp, whether it is a 6 or 8 week camp, doesn’t matter, no alcohol for a training camp. Most people grow up being able to drink and being able to in between their camps, and that is acceptable as it is important for a person to mentally recover and spend time with their friends and family and for it not be a burden. But for a training camp, no alcohol. It just affects too many things that can cost you a fight.”
Silviu Vulc (Romania) MMA coach, former Red Devil fight team member, former Romanian boxing coach – ” It is not too bad to have a glass of alcohol or a beer after training, as long as it is with food or dinner, as it can help relax the body after a training session. A glass of wine is best. But before an event, for 6 weeks, no alcohol.”
Rafael ‘Negao’ Lopes (Brazil) MMA Fighter, Muay Thai Fighter, BJJ Brown belt and coach – “Man, you cannot drink. If I drink and train for a fight, I never feel like I recover. If I drink beer it is different to vodka or spirit, beer is still bad, but I feel very bad if I drink vodka. If I fight, I don’t drink, for sure!”
Boyd ‘Gypsy’ Clark (Australia) Muay Thai, Boxing – “If for some reason you had to, one alcoholic drink wouldn’t really affect training. If your fight camp was set out for six weeks, I would like to think that you would not drink any alcohol, more than one drink if you absolutely had to. More than anything, it would hinder your recovery, so you would never be able to push yourself to 100% in your training sessions.”
So their you have it, from active fighters and coaches with a lot of experience. Common opinion is that alcohol consumption while preparing for any kind of competition is going to hinder your performance, by reducing your ability to recover, slowing your nervous system down and reducing your ability to train at 100%, which is what every athlete wanting to make the top of their sport wants!