Is getting drunk for one evening a risk for athletic performance?



In our latest AISTS Sport Medicine Podcast, Horike Shota and Mehta Nishant from the 2018 class discuss whether getting drunk can impact an athlete’s performance.

In the episode, they explore how everyone has different builds and physiologies – meaning two different athletes could react in completely different ways to drinking alcohol. But just how differently? Listen to the episode to find out. 

NM: Hello, guys. You are listening to AISTS – Medicine podcast and I am Nishant Mehta from India and I am Shota Horike from Japan. Our topic is getting drunk an evening before the game

SH: That will interest so many listeners. we present our topic through a little conversation between two athletes – John and Bob

((transition music))

John: Hey Bob, how are you? All set for tomorrow’s game… And wait… What are you drinking?

Bob: Beer… it helps my performance, man. It acts like a stress reliever and I feel my performance gets better with it. I think even you should try it.

John: No thanks. I feel that will hamper my performance. And the way you are consuming alcohol, don’t you think you will get drunk before the night of a game and it can hamper your performance.
Bob: What do you mean by getting drunk?

John: Ok, I will explain to you by an example. But my example could vary from and individual athlete to another because not everyone has the same built or physiology.

Bob: Ok. So you mean to say we are two different athletes competing in the same sport but if a certain percentage of alcohol gets me drunk, it wouldn’t be the same for you?

John: Yes you are right and I base my observation from the Blood Alcohol Level chart which measures the blood alcohol content in percentage. This percentage is the amount of ethanol in the blood over the mass of alcohol per volume of blood. So, for example, a BAC of .08 would be .08 grams of alcohol per 1000 grams of blood. In simpler terms it is the stage when you start to slur while you speak.

Bob: Ok but that can happen to you just after 2 or 3 drinks or consumption of 180 ml of hard
liquor or around 1.5 Litres of Beer.

John: Yeah but as I said earlier, it varies from person to person. As I said I will explain with
an example – I will take your example. To start with, what is your weight?

Bob: 70 kgs or around 150 pounds

John: Someone who weights as much as you may start to slur after consuming 3 large beers or around 2 Litres within 3 hours. This is called as the slurring phase and your motor skills are impaired according to Laws in most of the countries. At this point your Blood Alcohol Level is .08 grams per 1000 grams of blood. In fact, alcohol is just bad for athletic performance and (BOB CUTS)…

Bob: I have never thought about that while drinking. I think I didn’t realize but I have already consumed more than 4 beers and sleepy now. Thanks for your advice. Meet you tomorrow after I win…

((some transition music))

John: Hey man, I heard your performance was…

Bob: We are not talking about that. Because you would now say that I got drunk and had a bad performance.

John: Err, well that’s true.

Bob: Yeah but I wasn’t drunk…

John: I wish you had heard me completely before cutting me out yesterday. I was saying that
alcohol is bad for athletic performance in general as it has many ill effects.

Bob: Well… go on…

John: Firstly, alcohol affects your body’s ability to convert glucose into glycogen because your body prioritizes getting rid of alcohol toxins rather than other important tasks. This glycogen is stored in the liver and muscles and is needed to supply energy.

Secondly, you are more often than not consuming fatty foods with alcohol and this food is stored as harmful fats.

Thirdly, alcohol is known as a Diuretic, which means that you need to go to the loo more, which in turn affects your sleep, which in turn affects your body’s ability to produce human growth hormone that is needed for muscle repair and growth.

Bob: Yeah, you are right. I did go to the loo couple of times last night, and that did have an impact on my sleep and not surprisingly, I was feeling a lot more tired today.

John: Exactly, but the ill effects don’t end here. It also reduces your testosterone level and protein synthesis, which are also key components for that muscle reparation. And on top of all that it reduces your blood plasma volume that means that your heart is always working harder and that’s why after getting drunk, you lay your head on the pillow, you hear your heartrate because of irregular heartbeats.

Bob: Wow, that was quite insightful. But alcohol has also helped me setlle my nerves ahead of a big game.

John: Well, it could but such instances would be far and few. From my personal experience I have always had bad memories.

Bob: Well, that’s what was going to be my next question to you… How do you know so much… you don’t even drink alcohol?

John: Well, I used to… Stopped drinking 3 years back because alcohol was affecting my performance. I had to undergo rehab, where I learnt all these things. Of course, I used to feel it was a performance enhancer, but I was wrong.

Bob: Aaah, got it. I think even I should quit alcohol until I am competing.

John: Yeah, that would be the best thing to do. Remember, Drinking alcohol has various impacts on your athletic performance and they are:

Messi: Firstly, on the conversion of glucose, secondly causes dehydration, thirdly affects your sleep, fourthly hampers your muscle and on top of it, has an impact on your heart rate. And all these things have an impact on your athletic performance.

((transition music))

NM: Wow, that was quite a lesson Sho… Hope all our listeners enjoyed it.

SH: Yeah, thank you to all the listeners for tuning in Sayonara and Alvida from us.

You can find more AISTS Sport Medicine podcast on our Soundcloud channel or on the Apple Podcast app. To learn more about the AISTS Master of Advanced Studies in Sport Administration and Technology, visit

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