Being in a severe calorie deficit and drinking >10 legal drinks appear to have similarly negative effects on muscle protein synthesis after exercise. Combining those two scenarios together seems particularly unwise for maximizing muscle growth in response to training.
But, what about just a few legal drinks?
Would ~3 legal drinks (~45g of alcohol) post-workout have a similarly negative effect on adaptations to exercise?
Probably not, but there’s not much direct evidence on this.
Negative effects of alcohol consumption on muscle growth likely occur past ~3 drinks post-workout. But, there are some other physiological effects of moderate alcohol consumption worth considering that I’ll get to in follow-up parts in this series (effects on fat metabolism, hormones, etc.) that persuade me personally to avoid it post-training.
For example, this study from Barnes et al. reported when participants consumed ~0.5 grams of alcohol per kg bodyweight after a strenuous bout of resistance exercise, it didn’t seem to negatively impact their recovery. I weigh ~90kg, so I would have consumed ~45g (3 legal drinks) if I were a participant in this study.
This study from Molina-Hildago et al. (the “BEER-HIIT” study) reported a group of participants consuming 1-2 legal drinks per day for 10 weeks experienced similar improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness in response to a 10-week exercise program when compared to a “alcohol-free” group. This same research group published an analysis from this study on the body composition responses and reported similar decreases in fat mass and increases in lean mass for each group in response to the exercise program.
In follow-up parts, I’ll discuss other physiological effects worth considering and how the negative effects of excess alcohol consumption may be more pronounced in men than women.
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