You booze, you lose? How much does drinking undermine fitness gains?

Most of us like a drink, at least occasionally. But does boozing undo the fitness gains we work so hard for? Chris Marshall-Bell investigates

Mathieu van der Poel on the podium of the 2019 Amstel Gold Race (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You’ve just completed a hard week’s training, you know your fitness is improving, but that shelf-full of ice-cold beers in the fridge is an irresistible temptation. You’d planned on treating yourself to just one or two, but two leads to three leads to four…and the next day your head is throbbing; you feel physically wretched. Rightly or wrongly, for many of us drinking is go-to stress-buster. But few of us drink without an accompanying twinge of guilt or worry about the effects on our fitness.

The morning after a heavier-than-planned boozing session, as you lounge around in Planet Pity, you utter the empty pledge: "I’m never drinking again" – making you a sitting duck for sarcasm when you next raise a drink to your lips. But should you make a firm commitment to drink less? Or should you, for the sake of your cycling, stop drinking alcohol altogether?

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Chris Marshall-Bell

A freelance sports journalist and podcaster, you'll mostly find Chris's byline attached to news scoops, profile interviews and feature writing across a variety of different publications. He has been writing regularly for Cycling Weekly since 2013.

Previously a ski, hiking and cycling guide in a number of places, but mostly in the Canadian Rockies and Spanish Pyrenees, he almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.

He lives in Valencia, Spain.