Having a cold beer with your meal after an intense workout sounds like the most amazing thing. The fact that you just exercised makes you feel like you can enjoy anything without feeling guilt. Sadly, alcohol is not good for your body, especially after working out.
Post workout recovery is one of the most important parts of exercising and improving your physical health. When you exercise and push your body, your muscles are torn and damaged, leading to the development of more muscles and an overall improvement of your fitness level. According to Popular Science, alcohol interrupts this process in several ways: it leads to dehydration, it hinders your body’s ability to use glucose and amino acids, and it also interrupts your hormonal pathways.
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When your body is recovering from a workout, it needs electrolytes and fluids. Alcohol and the fact that you just sweated a lot act against this and slow down your recovery. Glucose and amino acids are also necessary for building muscle fibers and blood vessels, and alcohol decreases your ability to use these compounds. Lastly, by interrupting your hormonal pathways, alcohol makes testosterone less available to your muscles. As an athlete, you want more of this hormone, since it helps your muscles rebuild and develop.
While these results show some evidence against drinking alcohol after workouts, they’re not conclusive. Most studies have been conducted on small subject pools, making their results less reliable. Alcohol’s effect can vary from person, but in any case, an occasional drink after a work out won’t ruin all of your hard work.