Having a post-workout beer sounds like an odd concept, but the idea has been popping up over the past several years due to a study that discussed alcohol consumption after training. Plus, a commercial from a manufacturer showing that its beer is good for post-workout recovery made the concept spread even further.
Is this idea true, or are we being sold myths instead?
Let's take a look at post-workout recovery, and whether or not alcohol is beneficial for it:
The Purpose Behind Post-Workout Nutrients
Post-workout basically means after workout, the time in which your body's muscles are damaged due to the higher intensity of physical training. At this point, your muscles need several nutrients such as protein, carbs, fats, sodium and other minerals referred to as electrolytes.
Scientific studies still go back and forth with the concept that there is a set period of time after workout when you need to consume these nutrients to replace what has been lost. Regardless of which study you believe in, you should always consider consuming these nutrients around the two-hour time frame following a workout.
This ensures you have given your body nutrients to support repair and set damaged muscle cells on the path toward recovery. After muscle repair, your body is now capable of increasing the strength and density of the muscle cells. However, without sufficient nutrient intake your body may suffer instead.
The biggest thing to avoid is allowing your body to use muscle proteins for recovery, which is actually taken from muscle gains and is referred to as muscle atrophy.
The Reason Beer Has Been Discussed For Post-Workout Consumption
In 2013, a study released by the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism discussed the consumption of alcohol following a workout. However, this information was used improperly by others, and the word spread out with misleading guidelines for those looking to improve their athletic performance.
Post-workout nutrition is one of the most important aspects to training nutrition. The real information from the study actually only discusses that if you consume alcohol several hours post-workout, then you should choose one that is low in alcohol with a significant amount of sodium. Nowhere did the research study state that alcohol is beneficial for anabolic purposes following a workout.
On another note, Michelob Ultra released a commercial showing athletes drinking their beer after performing a physical activity, which is misleading for those who believe everything they see. Plus, the journal study stated the alcohol content that would be fine has an ABV of 2.3 percent, while Michelob Ultra ABV is actually 4.2 percent.
The Factual Truth On Why Post-Workout Alcohol Is Not Beneficial
OK, so now you know where the myth came from, but you also need to know what studies show when they actually put the concept to the test.
One study took 10 healthy males and gave one group only orange juice, and another group orange juice with vodka. Those who consumed the alcoholic mixture actually showed losses in training performance, and this is pretty good proof that post-workout beer is not the best idea.
Another study discussed the similar situation of using post-workout alcohol. They took eight healthy men and raised the blood alcohol levels of one group following several workouts. The end result was that muscle protein synthesis suffered from the blood alcohol levels, thus preventing proper repair and growth.
Protein synthesis is when proteins consumed enter your bloodstream to reach the proteins that have been damaged due to the intensity of an exercise routine. These proteins are intended to replace the damaged ones and are stronger and denser. Another name for this is myofibrillar protein synthesis.
The Bottom Line With Post-Workout Beer
Don't drink beer post-workout if you want to enhance your training performance and muscle recovery for better gains.
Creatine monohydrate, casein protein, whey protein and BCAAs are better post-workout supplements since they have several studies proving they are effective for muscle recovery. Beer has already been researched and shown to not be beneficial for your muscles, and this applies to alcohol in general.
Casein protein is the best choice because it is slow-digesting and feeds your muscles protein for hours after consumption. This is good because protein synthesis lasts for around 24 to 48 hours, which is when you will feel muscle soreness most likely.
Insufficient protein consumption does not only prevent your muscles from repairing properly, but it may also enhance soreness for longer periods, which is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is not preventable, but it can be reduced greatly with proper nutrition, and beer is just not going to give your body much help.
However, what if you want an alcoholic beverage the day you train? There's nothing wrong with this, but you should consider waiting until three to four hours after your work out before consuming alcohol.
Instead, consume a protein and carb-rich meal after your workout, and then allow that to digest before drinking a beer or any other alcohol.