Alcohol & Fitness

Can drinking alcohol effect how much muscle you gain? 

The primary stimulators of muscle protein synthesis are exercise and protein intake (the main process driving muscle adaptations, such as growth).

According to reports, athletes are more inclined to drink excessively, especially while participating in binge-drinking rituals during team sports. Can these actions impact the protein synthesis?

This study examined the impact of post-exercise alcohol consumption on rates of muscle protein synthesis in young, healthy adults who exercise often. First, subjects engaged in joint resistance and endurance training (to mimic sports). After an 8-hour recovery time, individuals consumed one of the following:

  1. 25 g protein
  2. 25 g protein and 12 standard alcoholic drinks
  3. 25 g carbohydrate and 12 standard alcoholic drinks

Consuming alcohol decreased the rates of muscle protein synthesis after exercise. Even when alcohol was consumed, muscle protein synthesis rates were still higher after exercise than they were at rest.

This means that skipping a training session is never a good idea, even if you know that you will drink a lot of alcohol afterward.

Keep in mind that the subjects consumed a lot of alcohol (i.e. 12 drinks). This number was selected to represent team athletes’ (binge) drinking habits. A smaller intake of alcohol (such as a drink with supper) will probably have a considerably less impact.

In conclusion, consuming a lot after working out reduces the production of muscle protein.


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