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Tip 22:          Student Athletes 

My coach says we can’t drink for 48 hours before a game.  Another coach on my campus prohibits all drinking during the season.  And, another coach just leaves it up to her players to follow their own rules.  Is the 48 hour rule right?


I never drink during the season except for the night after a game? Our games are usually on Saturdays so I have all week to recover.  Is there anything wrong with that?

Jack S.,   University of Notre Dame, Junior

Even moderate intakes of alcohol can negatively affect athletic performance, Jack.  The degree of impact depends on a number of variables: how regularly, how much and when you drink; how much you weigh; what you drink; your metabolic rate and so much more.  Obviously drinking heavily on the day prior to an event will negatively affect your performance.  But what about other drinking patterns?  Jack, consider the following:

  • Alcohol has a diuretic effect causing fluid loss, either by increased sweating or urinating. This extra fluid loss added to what you normally sweat out in training or playing puts you at a high-risk for dehydration.

  • Even moderate alcohol consumption decreases strength, power, muscular and cardiovascular endurance and impairs reaction time, balance and co-ordination for as long as seven days after drinking.

  • Small amounts of alcohol can rob the body of B vitamins and minerals essential for: converting food to energy; repairing body tissue after injury; and regulating enzyme and metabolic functions. The heart, liver, thyroid, and kidneys are affected by Vitamin B deficiencies.  Alcohol related Vitamin C deficiencies contribute to anemia, reduced resistance to disease and over stimulation of the adrenal gland. Alcohol related Vitamin A deficiency also reduces the body's resistance to disease.

  • Following alcohol consumption the body excretes calcium at twice the normal rate.  Calcium builds strong bones and helps heal fractures.

  • Drinking interferes with the body's ability to process uric acid. Breakdown in this mechanism is the same as an inflammatory joint condition called gout.

  • Research indicates that student athletes who drink can have twice the injury rate as those who abstain.  Alcohol used while recovering from an injury or exercise hinders the muscles’ ability to replenish energy stores leading to increased recovery time and rehab after an injury.

  • After heavy drinking, cognitive processes can remain impaired for up to 72 hours or more even after alcohol has left the bloodstream. 

By the way, for those of you who are trying to buff up in the gym, here’s some important information.  The buff appearance is a result of attaining a low body fat percentage. Alcohol slows down some of the metabolic functions, causing you to accumulate more fat.



  • Remember, alcohol is high in calories and causes weight gain when combined with an unhealthy diet.

  • Before exercise/training avoid alcohol for 48 hours.

  •   After exercise/training, drink non-alcoholic beverages to rehydrate.

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