It’s apart of the culture, but nobody really wants to address it… soccer players drinking. It’s there, especially in college. I am writing this article to discuss the concerns that players should have when indulging so they can better assess whether it is worth it or not. If they do decide to indulge, I’ve added the best ways to prevent the dreaded hangover that typically follows.
How Drinking Affects Your Game
Alcohol is a toxin, and as a toxin, it will cause problems within your body. One of the main concerns about drinking alcohol is that it causes inflammation, which puts extra stress on your body and inhibits the recovery your body is trying to make from the training or game earlier that day. It will also throw your hormones out of whack, which is not a major problem every once in a while, but if done often can have some bigger effects such as decreased testosterone and impaired dopamine systems. These toxins also hurt your immune system, which can leave you at a higher risk of getting sick, which is never good.
As most of us know, drinking also dehydrates us, which is a big contributor to the hangover in the morning. But not only does it dehydrate you, but because of the more frequent bathroom trips, you end up losing a lot of vitamins, electrolytes and minerals throughout the night. This can hurt you the next day or longer if you don’t replace them ASAP.
One of the worst problems that alcohol can cause is making dumb decisions. These can have life-altering effects and sometimes stem from one moment of stupidity while drunk. This is probably scarier and more of a problem then the ones mentioned above. I don’t think it stretches our imagination too much to think about what kind of dumb decisions could be made while drunk, so I’ll move on.
Lack of sleep is another problem that comes with drinking alcohol. Did you know that having more than 2 drinks before bed will decrease your deep-wave sleep by 20-50%? This is for an average sized male, so the amount can be slightly different depending on your build and sex. This isn’t a major concern if you regularly get enough sleep, but if you are not getting enough sleep during the week and then spending your weekend hours drinking and getting crappy sleep, you will start to see the effects in your game. You’ll react and recover slower and overall just play well below your potential.
So drinking can cause some major problems for a soccer player. It’ll hurt your recovery time, muscle gain, put you at risk of getting sick, make your sleep worse and can cause stupid decisions to be made. It is truly up to you to weigh the pros and cons before drinking and prioritize it with your playing.
But if you do decide to indulge, then you might as well know the best scientifically proven hangover cures.
The Best Hangover Cures/Preventative Measures
Ok, lets get the general principles of smart drinking out of the way first:
- Eat before going out – High protein and fat meals are best since you’ll be getting all the carbs you need from your drinks!
- Drink a lot of water before and during the night – The rule of thumb is a glass of water between each drink. Not always realistic but it’s something to shoot for.
- ALWAYS HAVE A DESIGNATED DRIVER – This will cure the hangover of making a terrible, terrible decision.
- Don’t mix your liquors and the lighter the better… for your hangover, unfortunate for people who like beer and whisky more than vodka or gin.
Now here are the BEST cures/preventative measures possible:
- Chlorella – You probably haven’t heard of this, but it is a type of algae that has been shown to prevent a hangover 96% percent of the time (1)! This algae is awesome at detoxifying the body and is extremely high in vitamins and minerals. Just take 4-5 grams before drinking and you’ll be golden. I get mine at a local health foods store in powder form, but here’s a link to a brand I have tried and recommend that comes in tablet form.
- Asparagus – When your body processes alcohol, it has to convert it from a toxin to a non-toxin so it can pass it. Asparagus boosts the levels of the enzymes whose job it is to break down the alcohol (2). I just make sure asparagus is on my plate if I know I’ll be drinking, along with cooking some up the next mornings. It also helps that it’s delicious.
- Potassium – When we drink, we lose a lot of nutrients, and one in particular is potassium. So taking 99mg of potassium or eating some high potassium foods like avocado, spinach, coconut or a couple of bananas, will help with preventing the throbbing headache the next day (3).
- Coffee – If you are hurting in the morning, drink some coffee, which can help reduce the swelling of blood vessels in your head caused by the drinking. Coffee being a diuretic is highly exaggerated, but that doesn’t mean skimp on the water (4).
- Sprite – Although I never recommend drinking pop (or soda, depending on where you are from), Sprite was shown to boost the enzymes that break alcohol down (5). So, if you are hurting and can’t take advantage of the above techniques, then a Sprite can help you out.
So there you have it, the best hangover preventative measures and cures. I personally really like the chlorella, asparagus and potassium, because then I wake up without having to then fight the hangover. If you use these techniques correctly, it’s amazing how much of a difference they make.
When it comes to drinking, it is truly up to a player’s priorities. Drinking does have a negative effect on your recovery, immune system and your ability to play the next day. However, much team bonding happens over a couple drinks, which if kept to 2 drinks, shouldn’t cause too many problems for the player. If you do decide to drink, make sure you are smart about it and use the correct techniques to minimize the damage it does to your body.
Do you have any hangover cures that aren’t on the list or have good ways to address players drinking? Let us know about them in the comments.
Until next time,
I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of the OS community. If you enjoy the information here, please share it and/or comment below. I love engaging in discussion and answering questions in any aspects related to the game we all love. The more we develop a community of players, coaches and performance specialists helping each other out, the more we all gain. Thanks again!