Is a Post-Workout Beer Really That Bad For You?

How Many Drinks Until Recovery is Spoiled?

There’s nothing like getting done a tough workout on a Saturday afternoon and cracking open a cold one. When you feel accomplished and strong after a solid workout, a drink can be a nice reward. Now, if that drink turns into multiple beverages, then we run into a bit of an issue. Consuming anything more than about 2 beers will be detrimental to protein synthesis. Protein synthesis? Why is this important to know?

Why is Protein Synthesis Important?

All cells in the human body function through their proteins. A protein is composed of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and proteins are the building blocks of muscle mass, according to the National Institutes of Health. Protein synthesis is the process by which your body generates new proteins. Protein makes up about 20% of muscle, while water makes up about 80% of muscle. Protein synthesis is important because it’s highly involved in the growth of muscles in our body. Exercise causes micro damage to our muscles. After exercise, protein synthesis remains elevated for about 1 to 2 days. This means that our muscles are growing and getting stronger within this period of time after our workout. In a previous post, we discussed how protein supplements and a protein shake can help the body maintain lean muscle mass.

How Does Alcohol Affect Protein Synthesis?

When you exercise, your body adapts to the stimulus that is placed upon it. This means that your muscles repair themselves by growing bigger and stronger. By drinking alcohol in excess after a workout, we are suppressing this rebuilding process and totally denying our body the ability to grow stronger and build muscle.

Many studies have been conducted on the affect of ethanol (alcoholic beverage) on protein synthesis. The decrease in the rate of muscle protein synthesis depends on the amount of alcohol that is ingested. By drinking more alcohol, you are suppressing the protein synthesis in your muscles by a lot. Not only is this diminishing the ability for your muscles to get stronger, it’s also preventing your body from preparing for your next workout. It doesn’t even matter how much protein you might eat after a workout– if you’re consuming alcohol in excess of 3 or 4 drinks, you are going to suppress protein synthesis.

This isn’t to say that you can’t have some fun in life. Go out and enjoy time with your friends and family. Have a few drinks, a couple laughs, and stay happy. Yes, having a couple drinks after you workout will suppress the muscle rebuilding process, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t see any gains. Train hard, drink in moderation, but most importantly stay happy.

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