Why Drinking Alcohol Post-Workout Isn’t The Best Idea

Fitness centers are increasingly turning to alcohol as an incentive to bring more people to the gym. Forget the traditional protein shakes, a post-workout beer is increasingly becoming the norm. But how healthy is it really to drink so soon after a workout? Could an after-gym beer undo all your hard work or will it have no negative effects? If you’re wondering how soon after you workout you can have a drink, then the answer is a little more complicated than that.

Alcohol per se isn’t completely terrible for your body after a workout as long as it’s drunk in moderation. One beer for example, will have no effect on your workout and might actually motivate you to workout. Both alcohol and exercise trigger the reward centers of your brain. This can put you in a better mood to return to your gym again the next day. Three drinks or more however, has very bad effects on your body.


Excess Alcohol And Its Effects Post-Exercise

While too much alcohol is bad for your body overall, it can be especially damaging if you’ve just worked out. Drinking too much alcohol severely depletes your body’s glycogen stores. Glycogen is used as fuel by our body when it needs energy. By drinking alcohol after today’s workout, you’re self-sabotaging your efforts the next day. Since your body is running so low on fuel, you won’t be able to workout as hard and will get easily fatigued.


If you’re concentrating on muscle building, your resistance training routine might also be reversed by excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol prevents proteins from synthesizing and forming into muscle mass. So you can push your body to extreme limits all you want during a workout, but you won’t be reaping any results if you’re also drinking alcohol right after. The protein inhibiting properties of alcohol also prevents your muscles from repairing themselves. Most of us experience tiny muscle tears during a workout which aren’t serious, since our body can self-repair. However, if you’re having one too many glasses of alcohol, your body’s ability to renew its tissue becomes severely diminished.

How Strong Is Your Will Power?

Hearing these facts about alcohol might make you less inclined to drink a lot after a workout, but don’t be so sure you won’t. Studies have shown that even with the best intentions, most people end up drinking a lot more than they planned to. This might be because alcohol triggers your reward center and so you feel the need to drink more glasses to feel happier. It might also be because a grueling workout makes many people believe that they’re negative unhealthy habits. Have you ever felt less guilty about gorging on a big, unhealthy meal after a long workout? We use that exact same rationalization when it comes to binge drinking after a workout.

Another reason why people might be compelled to drink after a workout is because of social constructs. One study discovered that athletes were more likely to go overboard on drinks than non-athletes. This is because our culture glorifies drinking and makes it an acceptable part of a sporting lifestyle. A ‘manly’ man according to societal standards, is a man who plays sports and who loves to drink. Falling prey to these unhealthy values can compel many people to indulge in a few drinks after work.


Luckily, the news isn’t all gloomy. If you work hard on limiting yourself to just one drink after a workout, then alcohol doesn’t have to be bad at all. It can help you associate exercise with happy activities and increase your bond with your workout mates.