Activated charcoal mixed drinks and avocado margaritas, may be the ultimate #healthycocktailgoals, but there are loads of ways to hack your bar order to make it healthyish—green juice, cumin honey, and turmeric, to name a few. Yet, no matter how health-minded your aperitif, booze can turn your body odor into a stinky mess that makes your sweat sesh a lot more multi-sensory, shall we say.
Let’s start here: One study found that frequent exercisers as a whole drink more than non-exercisers (surprising, but according to the research, true). That means you’re not imagining it, fitness studios on Saturdays really can smell like the bar from the night before, and the reason all comes down to biology.
“The body treats alcohol like a toxin, but the liver can only metabolize about 12 ounces of beer an hour,” says clinical psychologist and substance abuse expert John Mayer, PhD. So if you have a drink or even two, your body needs time. “The body gets rid of the rest through a process called oxidation, which breaks the toxins down into smaller parts called diacetic acid, carbon dioxide, and water that the body can metabolize and excrete through urine, breathe, and sweat,” explains registered dietitian, and ACSM exercise physiologist Jim White.
But sweat may be more noticeable because, Mayer explains, “drinking causes the blood vessels near the skin to enlarge, which causes people to feel flushed or hot and as a result triggers the body to sweat. It’s important to note that you can’t sweat out the hangover, just the smell of the alcohol. In fact, if you sweat like crazy during hot yoga or a set of intervals and you’ll compound that dehydration problem, which may even worsen your hangover symptoms, so use caution.
The reason the sweat (and pee) are so stinky after a night of imbibing is because, according to White, diacetic acid has a smell that mimics vinegar. “The higher the alcohol content of the drink or drinks the person consumed the night before, the more alcohol oxidation a person’s body will go through, which means more stink-causing diacetic acid,” he says.
To keep yourself from being a culprit, you have some options. “Either don’t drink, choose a lower intensity workout, or hydrate” says Mayer. “Drinking water will help dilute the alcohol and help a person excrete it more quickly, which will keep them from smelling so strongly of vinegar,” says White. In other words, H2O is your BFF this and every other day of the week.
If you don’t plant to quite your swig-then-sweat ritual, these are the healthiest drinks to order at a bar. And BTW, sweat is not a good indicator of workout effectiveness.
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