Drinking Alcohol after Working Out

Nutritionists and dietitians tell us that the question about how bad it is to drink alcohol after a workout is a very common question. For a complete answer there are two considerations that we need to keep in mind.

1. Calories:

When trying to maintain your current bodyweight or lose fat, calories matter and all drinking is just an empty-calorie fest, you don't benefit physically. Science actually tell us that 4 or 5 drinks a week is healthy, it increases HDL, the good cholesterol. It's more the mixers like soda's and juice that are loaded with empty calories than the alcohol itself.

2. Post-Workout drinking

A study about the impact on drinking after training was published recently in PLoS ONE. The study was specifically looking at the impact of alcohol on muscle protein synthesis after exercise. The athletes studied followed a high intensity workout with 6 screwdrivers (vodka and orange) taken over a three-hour period post-workout.

The results were conclusive. The individual athletes rate of protein synthesis (muscle repair and recovery) was diminished by an average of 37% on each athlete. The researches decided to take it all a step farther and examine the post workout protein taken before they started drinking screwdrivers made a difference.

The researchers used whey protein because science has proven that whey protein is able to speed up protein synthesis post exercise. When the athletes in the study drank a whey protein shake straight after training, before the screwdrivers started, the reduction in protein synthesis was 24%.

While 6 screwdrivers may sound like a lot, if it's done only once a week then it's no big deal. Besides the alcohol consumption, if you did anything that decreased your protein synthesis ability three times in a week, the overall effect wouldn't be that bad if you had a protein shake before you start drinking.

The athletes that drank 6 screw-drivers after training were drinking just a little under 120 grams' alcohol, which is a lot. If you're going out and have a couple drinks, the detrimental effect on your protein synthesis will probably be less than the 34%, seen by downing 6 shots of vodka.

In conclusion the alcohol you drink will have a direct effect on your ability to repair and build up muscle from your training. However, it is not only the quantity of alcohol consumed but also the loaded empty calories that usually come together with the alcohol.

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