How to Balance the Negative Effects of Post-Workout Boozing

Drinking after working out probably isn't a great idea, but there are ways to help balance the negative effects.
July 16, 2017, 2:00pm

Having a beer after a nice, vigorous workout is a rare heavenly moment. The endorphins are still pumping through your blood when you start getting that nice fuzzy warmth from your liquid friend. Unsurprisingly, alcohol is the most popular drug among athletes and habitual exercisers.

But, are those half-gallon margaritas you're sucking down at TGI Fridays sabotaging your gainz brah?

The answer is a bit more complicated than it sounds. If you're trying to lose weight, alcohol just turns into empty calories that definitely won't help you get shredded—especially if you're nibbling on cheesy potato skins and other bar food, which is most likely rich in fat.

It's an "absolute oxymoron," if you're exercising to lose weight and consuming alcohol afterwards, Dr. Bob Girandola, an associate professor at the University of Southern California's Human Biology Department, tells MUNCHIES.

If you're trying to gain muscle, consuming alcohol after the gym can disrupt protein synthesis, a process that aids in muscle growth.

In a study from Australia, researchers measured the effects of giving university athletes six vodka and orange juice cocktails to consume over the course of three hours after a workout. That's a total of about 112 grams of alcohol, which was based on the athletes' own self-reported binge-drinking practices.

(Side note: science is fucking awesome, sometimes.)

Researchers discovered that the alcohol resulted in a 37 percent drop in protein synthesis. But, if athletes consumed a whey protein BEFORE they began binge drinking, the drop in protein synthesis lowered to 24 percent.

READ MORE: Staying Up All Night Linked with Eating Crappy Food and Never Exercising

My own analysis is not scientific, but filling your tummy with whey before binge drinking also is also likely to increase chances of spewing on the carpet.

Just because drinking alcohol after a workout won't rob you of your gains, doesn't mean you should do it.

"If you're trying to gain muscle and trying to get maximum nutritional benefits, it doesn't make any sense to consume alcohol," says Girandola. "Why consume alcohol when you've got all kinds of other choices that would be much much better?"

Well, because your teammates just poured half a liter of vodka into a gym cleat and now it's your turn to do the stinky boot. Duh!