The Effect of Alcohol on Blood Pressure

    Can you have a six pack (the ab kind), be in awesome shape, do well in workouts, and still of had 12 beers last weekend?  Absolutely.  Some of us like to drink and sometimes that means more than one, hopefully nowhere close to 12 however!!  

    Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health.  In small amounts, it can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4mm Hg (MayoClinic.2012).  However, that protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol.  For healthy adults, one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger are the guidelines according to the Mayo Clinic.  If you drink more than moderate amounts of alcohol it can actually raise blood pressure by several points.  It can also reduce the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications.  So what should you do when you decide to drink?  Here are a few tips and tricks.

    Try to make any day you are going to drink a low(ish) carb day, which will be harder for you beer drinkers.

Mixed drinks - Stay away from sodas.  If you must, stick to diet.  People will rant and rave about the chemicals in diet soda, and while it is bad, it is preferable to do that and skip the carbs than to have 400g of carbs from 6 drinks (EattoPerform. 2014). Diet soda is not good for you, but neither is drinking.

                          - Most liquors have 0-3 carbs per serving.

                          - If you can, drink liquors with club soda.

Beer - Have carbs so be mindful.  If your beer has 50g of carbs in it, you do not want to have 8 of them.  Most dark beers are actually low carb, surprise.  Ounce for ounce Guinness has less carbs and calories than a Budlight (EattoPerform.2014).

Wine - Pretty low carb and has a few aspects that are good for you, but does not mean 6 drinks are better than 1.  Be careful of hangovers!  Drink too much and you will have a worse hang over compared to liquor or beer.

Track your drinking patterns - Like a food diary.  One beer = 12oz (355mL), wine  = 5oz (148mL), 80-proof liquor = 1.5oz (45mL).

Taper off, do not quit cold turkey - If you are a heavy drinker, eliminating all alcohol suddenly can trigger severe high blood pressure for several days (MayoClinic.2012).  Doctor supervision is recommended. 

Do not binge - Binge drinking is considered having 4 or more in a row.  It can cause large and sudden increases in blood pressure, plus numerous other health concerns.

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With a Bachelors Degree in Health, Behavior and Exercise Sciences, Laurie graduated from the University of Delaware while concentrating on Fitness Management and Strength and Conditioning. Her passion for fitness and health stem from a background in sports, playing soccer at all levels including high school varsity, elite club teams, and at the collegiate level. Infusing her love for soccer into a career, Laurie has experience in sports conditioning, functional training, weight management and nutrition.