Science

Research suggests that a post-gym night out could lead to pain and no gains

Drinking alcohol after exercise has been found to reduce muscle synthesis.

Many athletes have, at one time or another, rounded off a competition or heavy training day with a drink in the local bar. While this does seem like a very appealing reward for a strenuous day of physical activity, information has recently come to light that suggests this post game ritual could be doing a great deal of harm to their gains.

Recently, a study has been published in PLOS ONE into the effects of consuming alcohol after training. Three groups of people were subjected to different conditions and then muscle biopsies were taken two hours and eight hours after training to measure their levels of myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS).

The trial lasted 14 days and athletes were allowed to continue their normal training regimen and diet but were treated differently post workout. One group were given protein immediately after and 4 hours following exercise. Another group was given the same amount of protein but also consumed alcohol, in the form screwdrivers containing a double shot of vodka, every thirty minutes starting one hour after training. The final group also drank alcohol and ate the energy equivalent of the protein in carbohydrates.

After the trial it was found that protein synthesis was reduced by 24% in the group who consumed protein and alcohol and by a staggering 37% in the group who consumed alcohol and carbohydrates immediately after training.

It appears that eating protein immediately after a workout can, to a limited extent, mitigate the effects of alcohol on protein synthesis compared to just eating carbohydrates but in order to get the most gains from your workout it is best to abstain from alcohol altogether.

While the effects of alcohol on protein synthesis has often been thought to be detrimental this is the first time that a study has provided quantitative data on the effects on humans.

In the long term, “the athlete who binge drinks after training is likely to benefit less from strength training-induced muscle growth,” said lead researcher John Hawley.

Ben Clark

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