Triathlon and alcohol: what is allowed, what should be avoided at all costs?

Roth Challenge 2021 - 82
A beer shower is allowed for the winners, but triathletes should think twice before drinking alcohol.

Caroline, my job is done, I just got back from a training session. Now a fresh wheat beer or a nice glass of red wine. Or is there something wrong with that?

Well, it depends on how performance-oriented an athlete is. Basically, it should be noted that alcohol impairs regeneration processes and has a dehydrating effect. Most people become dehydrated to some degree after “work is done,” and alcohol makes this even worse. It should also be borne in mind that alcohol impairs the quality of sleep, which in turn has a negative effect on regeneration.

So a glass as a reward after training does not work?

No, that is definitely the wrong reward. He prefers to enjoy a delicious Regi or a smoothie.

Specifically related to alcoholic beverages: what triathletes can drink and what they absolutely must avoid?

In principle, you are allowed to do everything, but the question arises what makes sense. During key intense phases, when the focus of training is on performance development, alcohol should ideally be avoided altogether. If you train “just for fun” there is nothing wrong with having a beer or a glass of wine from time to time.

When it comes to endurance sports and alcohol, is there an appropriate consumption?

Each one defines what suits them. My opinion on the subject: Triathletes invest a lot of time, effort, money and deprivation in this passion. In view of this, I would avoid alcohol during intensive training phases.

How seriously does alcohol affect sports performance?

By impairing regeneration, alcohol impairs performance.

What else is there to consider?

Alcohol consumption has a negative effect on muscle building and the immune system by influencing hormonal control circuits. However, it must be said that such changes in hormonal balance are not caused by a glass of wine on the weekend. And maybe this tip: Alcohol impairs coordination, which increases the risk of accidents when cycling home from a “regenerative pub stop.”

Is there a difference if you drink something during the season or the competition phase or out of season?

In any case. If you like moderate alcohol in the off-season, ie one or two beers or glasses of wine on the weekend, then that falls into the “quality of life” category for me, and that’s very important. Of course, daily or excessive alcohol consumption is also not recommended when there are no competitions, as this has long-term negative effects on health.

Quantity matters, of course. But how important is the choice of drink, the time of day it is drunk, with or without food?

The dose makes the poison or as the old Latin says: dose facit venenum. But of course hard liquor is worse and less healthy than a pint of light beer. The physiological effects, i.e. the negative health effects of alcohol on our body are independent of the decorations, i.e. food, etc. The subjective effect of alcohol is, of course, more pronounced on an empty stomach and in the morning for most people.

Can you drink non-alcoholic beers without hesitation?

You should know that soft drinks can contain up to 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. So take a look at what’s really inside. The sugar content of non-alcoholic beers can also be considerable.

And if a big celebration or party is coming up, how should triathletes ideally behave when it comes to drinking?

I would say that the exceptions prove the rules, in terms of sensible consumption. Unless the festival falls the day before a competition. So you should try to avoid high-percentage spirits and not “give yourself the edge” when it comes to beer and wine.

Carolina Ruscher is the triathlon nutrition expert as well as the digital channels of the magazine. Rauscher, a pharmacist with additional training in the field of nutrition, creates individual sports and nutritional concepts for world-class international athletes and ambitious amateurs as well as health-conscious people. He looks after Olympic champions Viktoria Rebensburg, Arnd Peiffer, Eric Frenzel, Tom Liebscher, and top triathletes Laura Philipp, Anne Haug, and Florian Angert, to name just a few.

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