A writer for Bicycling Magazine recently contacted me for some expert advice for a piece she was working on for the December/January issue:
"Occasionally in races, participants will be handed a beer or a shot and we’re wondering what the effects would be and if it would slow you down. We’re pretty much trying to figure out how much or how long it would take for the alcohol to hit your system and slow you down."
She will be quoting exerts in the December/January issue, but here is the full response I gave her:
Throughout my years working with triathletes I have had few ask me about alcohol during a race. I know in the early 1900s it was believed to relax the muscles and improve performance, but these days most athletes understand the negative effects on performance. Trust me, I like the occasional cocktail, but alcohol has no place on the race course. Alcohol is a toxin. You train your body through nutrition and exercise months before an event to function like clockwork in order to be as efficient as possible on the course. Putting a toxin in your body during a race can disrupt what you worked so hard to earn.
I would say anything more than 1/2 a 12oz beer affects your body right away since your liver can only process so much at a time. Alcohol during a race hits your system almost immediately. This is because after about 60-90 minutes of activity, your body is in “receiving mode” due to it relying mainly on consumed glucose for energy. Once consumed, your liver recognizes the toxin and works immediately to rid your body of it. But, since your liver can’t do that very quickly, alcohol is present in your system to cause some negative effects. Here are the negative effects:
I am Katie Rhodes, owner of OWN-Nutrition. I am a Registered and Licensed Dietitian in Little Rock, Arkansas with a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition. That sounds fancy, but it really means I'm a foodie at heart.