What’s the best post-workout beverage? Ask that question and you’re likely to get a lot of different answers. A lot will depend on your goals…are you trying to build muscle or seeking an increase in endurance? Do you want to lose weight or are you trying to build mass? Or maybe none of those things really matter to you, perhaps you’re just exercising to stay healthy.
If avoiding heart disease and living a longer life are on your agenda, there’s a growing body of research out there that a little alcohol can have a big effect on your overall health. According to an article outlining the results of a Danish study, the combination of moderate physical activity and alcohol consumption reduces the risk of heart disease by up to 50% (exercise alone reduced the risk by over 30%).
A recent article from the BBC involving a Spanish study confirms that alcohol consumption has a positive effect on protecting us from heart disease, especially for men. It found that there was no real difference in the type of alcohol consumed, and that moderate to high intake was actually more beneficial than drinking just a little. Drinkers who put away up to 3-11 shots of vodka a day had less heart disease than those who limited themselves to just one.
Researchers are quick to point out this doesn’t give people the green light to start binge drinking. The heart is only one organ in the body, and excessive amounts of alcohol have been shown to have negative effects on some of those, like the liver and brain. The daily consumption of large amounts (3 glasses of wine or 6 pints of beer) has been shown to triple the incidence of stroke. So in effect it becomes a balancing act, and as usual, moderation would seem to be the key.
In the UK, the recommendation is no more than two to three units of alcohol a day for women – the equivalent of one standard glass of wine – and three to four units for men. They also suggest trying to abstain from alcohol a couple of days per week. That might be difficult for some of us considering the wine-ccentric culture that surrounds us, but it does give us some guidelines to keep in mind.