We all know getting drunk before a big sporting event is a bad idea (unless you’re the Brisbane Broncos). The morning after a big night is made for curling up beside the TV and ordering uber eats, not working out, that comes later. However new research shows a big night out might affect you for longer than you think.
New research by WHOOP has found that the effects of alcohol lasted for a massive four days in athletes. The research tracked sleep patterns and exercise to monitor the effect that a debaucherous night out would have on athletic performance. Now, most studies only look at the effects on performance within 24 hours of alcohol consumption but due to the nature of the WHOOP tracker athletes were able to track for up to five days following a drinking sesh.
The effects of alcohol were measured in two ways, the first through recovery metrics and the second was a subjective assessment from the athletes themselves. To be honest the subjective assessment just seems like athletes being way to tough on themselves as they continued to mark themselves down for days. So let’s let the data do the talking.
The metrics taken were resting heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV) relative to the athlete’s average. For those who don’t know, heart rate variability is the statistical measurement of heart rate irregularity. So basically it’s the time in-between heartbeats, after all a resting heart rate of 60bpm does not mean a heartbeat once a second.
Now back to the findings, as expected 1-day post alcohol saw the most significant drop in metrics, with 74% recording reduced recovery metrics. Two days following the event 29% of athletes a drop and it kept going with 7% still recording a drop in recovery four and five days post-consumption.
Even the night of drinking can age you by 12 years, with WHOOP recording resting heart rates in athletes that were 16.2% higher than average and HRV’s that were 22.7% lower. According to the fitness tracker that is a change of magnitude similar to aging 12 years.
Imagine if you have a drink every Saturday night, your performance won’t be back to where it was until Thursday, so you’ll get two days of good training in before you do it all again. Not really helpful when you’re trying to perfect your rig is it?
Is there any way to prevent this? Well obviously stop drinking alcohol is the main one but it’s also the hardest and most unlikely. Other helpful tips include drinking water regularly while on a drinking sesh, still getting a good night’s sleep, eating before drinking and even avoiding certain drinks like bourbon and tequila that are high in congeners.
Or you can work hard, play harder and just know that you’re going to have to put the effort to get your body where it needs to be.