We have often heard that drinking alcohol could break down our muscles, especially if we work out.
In fact, numerous studies suggest that working out after drinking alcohol breaks down your muscles. There is some truth to it and it only makes things more complicated.
Fitness Coach Peter O’Reilly has tried to help us understand the effects of alcohol on our muscles. He took to his Instagram account to mention a few studies and explain how much alcohol could affect the muscles.
He referred to one study in which the scientists looked at the effects of post-exercise alcohol consumption. He said, “They trained eccentrically because they found that to induce the most muscle damage and muscle soreness. 30 min post-exercise they drank 1g of per kg of bodyweight of Smirnoff Vodka (which is about 5-6 shots for an average guy).”
Explaining the findings of the study, Peter said, “They [the researchers] found that muscle injury was magnified which therefore delayed the recovery process which could impact your performance.”
Referring to another study, Peter said, “In a test on mice to see how alcohol affects protein synthesis. The mice were given 3g/kg of alcohol. They injected with alcohol before their muscles were electrically stimulated. They found that alcohol consumption had a long-lasting effect on protein synthesis and mTOR.”
“This implied that if you have a heavy night of drinking the night before training could limit protein synthesis which would, therefore, lead to limited muscular adaptations,” he added.
Peter looked at another study that looked at the association between moderate alcohol consumption and hypertrophy in mice. He said, “They [researchers] found that although there are decrements in muscle with the use of alcohol, they were still able to make muscle size increase and had an increase of protein synthesis.”
“This was obviously not as high as the protein synthesis that the control group provided, but very similar,” he added.
Determining the results of these studies, Peter left us with important takeaways, suggesting that moderate consumption is fine and binging is never a good idea.
It is clear that alcohol consumption affects our protein synthesis and mTOR signaling, and drinking too much the night before exercise is not good.
Peter noted that drinking moderately after exercise would not affect your gains too much but it may hurt your recovery process and increase muscle soreness. So, basically, drinking a couple of beers (if you must) the night before your workout is fine, but nothing more than that.