Should You Mix Alcohol And Exercise: Surprising Study Answers The Question If Booze And Calorie-Burning Can Ever Mix

Pilates and Pinot: Should You Ever Mix Alcohol With Your Workout? Surprising New Study Answers The Question

We’ve all been there: about to leave work at the end of a long day, tired but intent on getting in a workout nonetheless.

But then Alice from accounting suggests you join her for a quick drink.

Well, what harm could one or two beers do, in terms of getting your pump on afterwards at the gym, right?


Turns out that even small amounts of alcohol can hamper your ability to build muscle and burn calories–both before and after working out–according to a new Australian study.

John Hawley, head of the exercise and nutrition group at Australian Catholic University found that athletes to partook of even a few drinks after working out had lower rates of protein synthesis compared to athletes who didn’t drink after working out –the process by which muscle size increases, and also aids muscle repair. Both of these functions are vital to building strength or stamina through exercise.

And a second study from New Zealand–what is it with people in the southern hemisphere and their obsession with drinking and working out?–concluded that alcohol can limit the ability of your muscles to take up and utilize glucose, a vital function required by your muscles for energy, and which aids performance on endurance-related activities. They also concluded that with alcohol on board, you would be likely to burn fewer calories during exercise and even between trips to the gym.

And then there’s the question of form. Even low doses of alcohol can affect coordination and motor skills. Depending on what sort of exercising you favor, this could actually be dangerous. As an example of how even a little lack of coordination could affect your exercise, a recent study of CrossFit enthusiasts found that rates of injury rose as a person’s form declined.

Interestingly, people who are more likely to drink regularly have been found to be more likely to exercise too. One reason for this is that that the reward centers of the brain that are activated when drinking are the same ones that are activated when one exercises.

“Both alcohol and exercise cause the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain,” said J. Leigh Leasure, director of the behavioral neuroscience lab at the University of Houston.

As with most things alcohol-related however, the studies’ authors say that the effects on exercise are dose-related. If you have that one or two beers with Alice form accounting, you likely aren’t doing a whole lot of damage to your body’s ability to benefit from exercise.

It might not be the best idea, but perhaps it isn’t he worst idea either.

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