Drinking alcohol will stop fat burning, erase performance gains from training, and delay recovery. You should avoid it!
That said, it is useful to have a few strategies to speed detoxification of alcohol since it’s holiday time. In addition, these tips will help protect you from everyday toxins, such as pollution, pesticides, and xenoestrogens.
First, knowing what alcohol does to your body can help you choose to take action to prevent its ill effects. Remember, alcohol contains 7 calories a gram—nearly double that of carbs and protein—and when you drink it, all other metabolic processes in the body are put on hold until it’s metabolized. Fat and carbohydrate burning are halted, as is tissue rebuilding and protein synthesis. Alcohol can depress growth hormone production and increase levels of aromatase that turn testosterone to estrogen.
Alcohol is metabolized by the liver, but the process causes oxidative stress and chronic drinking leads to significant damage and fat gain inside the liver. The bright side of all the misery caused by alcohol is that if you drink responsibly, there are ways to speed detoxification. Curcumin, green tea, and milk thistle have all been shown to blunt the ill effects of alcohol and help eliminate it.
Curcumin is a super nutrient found in the spice turmeric, and multiple animal studies show it protects the liver from alcohol. For example, one study showed that giving rats curcumin significantly decreased the acute inflammation caused by alcohol, while enhancing detoxification.
A similar study showed green tea extract can protect the liver from alcohol and accelerate detox. Researchers found that the antioxidants (called catechins) in green tea inhibited absorption of alcohol in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to less of an inflammatory response and faster elimination.
Finally, milk thistle can speed the elimination of toxins through the liver and protect it from damage. It’s a well known liver tonic that has been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects when supplemented regularly.
Additional strategies to accelerate detox from alcohol include the following:
• Drink LOTS of water with electrolytes before and after drinking.
• Focus on eating high-protein, low-carb foods. Always eat protein and vegetables before drinking to minimize cravings for alcohol and high-carb, fatty foods.
• Train hard. Studies shows athletes excrete more toxins in urine than sedentary people.
• Remember, you have complete control over everything you put in your mouth!
El-Deen, N., Eid, M. Efficacy of Curcumin to Reduce Hepatic Damage Induced by Alcohol and Thermally Treated Oil in Rats. Veterinaria Italiana. 2010. 46(1), 83-90.
Hia, H., et al. Oxidative Stress and Antioxidants in Hepatic Pathogenesis. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2010. 16(48), 6035-6042.