Alcohol and sport: What alcohol does to the athlete’s body

Alcohol and sport: What alcohol does to the athlete’s body

Alcohol and sport? Bad idea. But it happens more often among amateur athletes than many people think. And it has a concrete impact on strength, endurance and muscle mass.

June 7, 2024, 8:25 a.m.

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According to experts like Helmuth Seitz, alcohol and sport don’t mix because alcohol reduces performance, increases the risk of injury and causes muscles to shrink. Studies show that alcohol impairs protein synthesis and can lead to muscle loss. Nevertheless, there are also positive effects such as a reduction in nervousness during competitions. For amateur athletes, occasional drinks are acceptable as long as excesses are avoided. However, competitive athletes should avoid alcohol completely because even small amounts can impair performance.


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Alcohol causes muscles to shrink. © Alora Griffiths/​

A glass of wine in the evening before the morning run, a beer after team training. Sometimes two. Alcohol and sport come together more often than many amateur athletes think. But do the two go together?

Helmuth Seitz has a clear opinion on this: “Alcohol really has no place in sport,” he says. The honorary professor of internal medicine at the University of Heidelberg has been researching the effects of alcohol on the human body for several decades. And when it comes to sport, the effects are clear: alcohol reduces performance, increases the risk of injury, causes muscles to shrink – and can even be dangerous.


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