U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is trying something new before this summer’s Olympics: he’s giving up drinking alcohol.
Swimmers call giving up alcohol before major meets a “dry season.” Lochte, 31, has not done a dry season during his swimming career, but he says it’s something he’s willing to try for this summer’s Games in Rio.
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“I’m just really bad at that,” Lochte told Omnisport in a Sporting News article. “If I’m going out to a nice restaurant I, of course, want to have a beer or anything like that, but dry season? I’ve never done it in the past; we had it in college but I never listened to it.”
In the 2012 London Olympics, Lochte won gold in the men’s 400m Individual Medley and the men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay.
Despite his two gold medals in the last Olympics, Lochte has room to improve. In June, he failed to qualify for the men’s 400m Individual Medley because of a pulled groin injury.
Giving up alcohol before the games can only help Lochte’s performance. Alcohol negatively affects muscle building, since it metabolizes before carbohydrates, proteins and fats, key nutrients athletes need to recover from workouts.
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Alcohol also inhibits productive sleep by interfering with Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Athletes need REM sleep to recover and to maintain peak athletic performance, because it helps athletes commit key movements to memory.
At 31, Lochte has more days behind than ahead of him in his Olympic career. Giving up alcohol could prolong his career. Of course, athletes who are under legal drinking age should not consume alcohol.
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