When You Mix Alcohol With Exercise


I’ve attended a few 5 K races, and fun runs over the last few years. I never ran in them, as I’ve never focused on long distance running as a part of my training.  While being there, I was busy volunteering, promoting, or spending time to support someone who was actually running.  At the end of a particular race, I noticed a sponsor of the event carrying kegs of beer up to the pavilion as runners were coming across the finish line.  As much as I didn’t feel that it was ‘right’, I quickly understood 2 things. Beer can be the drink of choice for carbohydrates after exercise. And that people will sign up for a race to get a couple of beers. Maybe people love beer?

Can beer and alcohol be a detriment to your ‘gains’?  It certainly can. Especially when we escape the boundaries of  moderation.  For example, most of the runners were consuming what was most-likely to be a light-beer from a domestic brand.  Knowing that, they would be consuming a couple hundred calories.  For most of the participants in the race, they would be burning excess of 200 calories on their run, nor threatening a weight gain from a caloric surplus.

So since they weren’t gaining weight from drinking beer, how could it possible bad? ‘Bad’ may not be the best word to use here.  Just know that in some cases, beer may not be the best drink after exercise. And to build off of that, drinking too much beer is definitely not the best way to go.

From what the majority of research may suggest, alcohol, but I will be more focusing on beer. Also, because I do not know many people who are taking shots of alcohol right after exercise. Hopefully that's none of us reading this. Anyway, beer in general may help support a few things here and there when it comes to recovery.  Otherwise, beer may hinder or inhibit the following progressions:

  • Beer may suppress the anabolic process while also inhibiting your recovery.  This may apply for an individual who may consume 3 or more beers immediately after their workout. So, if you are focusing on muscle growth in a current mesocycle, for more optimum results, reduce your beer intake.

  • Muscle protein synthesis is also inhibited. Most individuals may face a lack of protein synthesis when ingesting 5 or more beers even after taking 25g of protein, under post work-out conditions. This also falls inline with your recovery.  Protein is needed for recovery from the catabolic process and to promote growth.  For optimum protein synthesis, avoid drinking beer (alcohol) around your protein supplementation.

  • Lower amounts of beer can help circulate testosterone, although the amount of testosterone is not critical for muscle growth. Higher amounts of beer can even suppress the ability of testosterone in your body.

But what If you just want to have 1 after a workout?  If you are done having a workout with some friends, and looking to enjoy one with the team, it can be accepted on an occasional basis.  There are some additional considerations you may want to have when and if you think a beer or 2 may be acceptable for your post-workout needs:

  • The duration of your workout.  Usually, activity that is above the 2 or 3 hour mark may call for a beverage that is more calorically dense and providing carbohydrates to replenish.

  • Can you fit a beer or another calorically dense beverage into your daily allowance to meet your calorie goals?

  • The type of activity.  If you are participating in more of traditional body building, resistance training, and other activities that promote the catabolic process, consider avoiding beer.  This is especially important when considering protein synthesis and the need to ingest protein around your workout window

Use beverages, like beer to your advantage.  Now that you know when beer can be most efficient to your body, you can put the practical application to use.  Just remember that keeping alcoholic beverages more seldom and configuring the calorie amounts into your daily allowance will provide the more optimum results.

Connor BrownComment