Do you think you can go drinking after a tough workout or athletic competition without consequence? The extra calories will help build muscle, right?
For those of you who regularly imbibe, this habit might be the reason you’re not seeing gains from your workouts.
However, many athletes and fitness-minded individuals fall prey to this broscience myth. In fact, studies have shown that active individuals tend to drink more alcohol than sedentary people, and college athletes binge drink more than non-athletes.
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But it’s no mystery that boozing takes a toll on your body. A nasty hangover from binge drinking is the ultimate example. But even a few drinks alters some of your body’s natural processes.
Worse, alcohol screws up your body’s ability to repair and rebuild muscle, especially in men.
A recent study from the University of North Texas assessed the impact of alcohol on mTORC1, which is responsible for protein synthesis, or repairing and rebuilding muscle.
After resistance training, mTORC1 activity increases to create new strength and size gains during the recovery process. However, it was found that consuming 1.09 grams of alcohol per kilogram of fat-free mass inhibits this process. This would be the equivalent of a 176-pound person with 10 percent body fat consuming five and a half drinks.
Put simply, booze prevents your muscles from fully entering the recovery process. In essence, you’re wasting your workout and hard work. You might see some gains, but nowhere near the improvements you would achieve without drinking.
Interestingly, alcohol only inhibits mTORC1 activity in men. So theoretically, drinking alcohol might not impact a woman’s workout results as much. But don’t be fooled. Alcohol appears to have other ways of ruining your workouts by dehydrating your body and causing you to store more fat.
So what should you do? If you’re a competitive athlete or are serious about your training, you should avoid drinking as much as possible. Or at least limit it to off days. If you plan to drink, do so in moderation and avoid binge drinking, which is detrimental for a multitude of reasons.
The researchers recommend that athletes use this evidence to deflect peer pressure to drink out of fear that it could waste their hard workouts and put them at a disadvantage in their sport.
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