Why athletes shouldn't drink alcohol

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By Sarah Gearhart

Besides causing you to wake up with a killer headache, dry mouth and upset stomach, drinking alcohol can affect your performance by leaving you dehydrated. "Alcohol reduces the action of the anti-diuretic hormone, which tells the kidneys to conserve water," explains Jackie Berning, Ph.D, sports nutritionist for the Denver Broncos.

When that hormone is reduced, urination increases, along with risk of dehydration, which can seriously stress your kidneys. The water balance in muscle cells can also be disrupted, because their ability to produce adenosine triphosphate¬óthe fuel that allows muscles to contract¬óweakens.

According to Berning, excessive alcohol intake can lead to deficiencies in water-soluble vitamins such as niacin, vitamin C and thiamin, all of which your muscles heavily depend on. Your body can also have trouble absorbing important nutrients like magnesium, iron and zinc, key minerals that help you metabolize protein, fat and carbs.

Just when you think it couldn't get any worse, alcohol consumption also hinders balance, hand-eye coordination and skills that require fast reaction time. You'll feel a decrease in strength, and, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, muscular and cardiovascular endurance. Bottom line: alcohol consumption leads to pathetic performance.

Oh yeah, one last thing: hitting the bottle can get you kicked off the team for underage drinking. Say goodbye to that potential college scholarship.

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