Alcohol on Energy Levels

One of the most common symptoms I hear from the people I work with is a lack of energy and vitality. There are many potential reasons for a decline in energy. The casual consumption of alcohol is one of the ones that often gets overlooked. In this article, we will evaluate the impact of alcohol on energy levels.

Alcohol consumption is normalized by society. In fact, since 2019 alcohol consumption has increased, more in women than in men. There is significantly more marketing and alcoholic beverages targeted toward women now than at any other point in history. Thus having a few cocktails a few times weekly doesn’t seem like it is impactful. However, let us break it down a bit for you.

The truth is…

Your energy levels are be impacted by alcohol consumption in several ways. Although some people drink alcohol to relax or socialize, it leads to feeling of sluggishness and fatigue. This is because alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system. The impact of alcohol on energy levels is determined by the amount of alcohol consumed and how fast it is metabolized by the body.

Therefore, investigating reasons for alcohol’s impact, its metabolism process, and safe limits is crucial for maintaining optimal energy levels.

Why does drinking alcohol impact energy levels?

Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system, slowing down brain activity and altering the body’s chemical balance. When consumed in small amounts, alcohol can have a stimulating effect, making you feel relaxed, confident, and sociable. However, drinking even what is socially acceptable will lead to feelings of drowsiness, sluggishness, and a lack of energy.

The main reason behind this impact on energy levels is that alcohol disrupts the body’s normal sleep patterns. It reduces the amount of deep, restorative sleep and increases the frequency of waking up during the night. This leaving you feeling tired, groggy, and less alert during the day. Alcohol will also dehydrate the body, leading to fatigue, weakness, and headaches.

How is alcohol metabolized?

The process of alcohol metabolism begins as soon as the drink enters the body. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine and transported to the liver. At this point it is broken down into harmless byproducts that can be eliminated from the body. The liver can metabolize roughly one drink per hour, depending on factors such as age, sex, body weight, and liver function.

Alcohol processing by the liver produces acetaldehyde, a toxic substance that can cause symptoms like flushing, nausea, and headache. The liver uses a specific enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) that then converts acetaldehyde into acetate. At this point it can be further broken down into carbon dioxide and water. The byproducts are eliminated from the body through urine and respiration.

As you get older, the ADH enzyme production in the liver decreases, making it harder for your body to break down alcohol. Have you ever noticed that your “recovery” from alcohol is not what it used to be? With the reduction in ADH it takes longer for your body to process alcohol, which can lead to feelings of “overconsumption” even with the moderate amount that you used to be able to drink.

How much alcoholic beverages can you drink that won’t impact your energy levels?

The amount of alcohol that you can consume without feeling its effects on energy levels depends on several factors, such as age, sex, body weight, and tolerance. The recommended safe limits for alcohol consumption are one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. This equates to roughly 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits per day.

However, even moderate drinking can have an impact on energy levels if consumed regularly. It is recommended to take regular breaks from alcohol consumption and to ensure that alcohol is not affecting sleep patterns. Additionally, individuals should remain hydrated by drinking water when consuming alcohol and avoid drinking on an empty stomach, as this can lead to a faster absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. 

The common recommendation to drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages works dually, to allow for hydration and to allow for enough time to metabolize alcohol between cocktails.

To sum up, alcohol consumption can have negative effects on energy levels by interfering with sleep, leading to dehydration, and producing harmful toxins that the liver has to clear from your system. The quantity of alcohol that can be safely consumed without impairing energy levels is contingent on individualized factors. To maintain healthy energy levels, it is crucial to consume alcohol in moderation, stay hydrated, and take breaks from drinking.