Can You Drink Alcohol Post-Gym?

Oct 10, 2014 | fitness

How many of you indulge in that sneaky beer or wine after a workout at the gym? Well, coincidence or not, according to latest research from Northwestern University suggests that on days where we exercise more (typically Thursday to Sunday) we are also drinking more alcohol. The reason why we are doing this is yet not completely understood but the suspicion is alcohol becomes our ‘reward’ for working out or perhaps we believe the workout cancels out the indulgence.

We certainly all enjoy a bevvie or two but drinking alcohol post workout is undoing all your good work, and detrimental to your health and body. Here are few reasons why you shouldn’t be having that drink after you have worked out.

Weight gain?

Absolutely! Alcohol is what we call ‘empty calories’. Providing 7 calories per gram and minimal nutritional benefit, a 30min jog followed by two glasses of white wine (at 120 calories per standard) = 0 calories burned. Why would you bother with the drink? A 30min jog wouldn’t even cover your average cocktail, And let’s not get the fizzy stuff you add to drinks or the fatty foods you reach for when a bit ‘tipsy’.

Alcohol can also increase levels of cortisol (stress), which encourages fat storage – and this generally hits your tummy region (yes, that muffin top is all stress).


Recovery time slows down

After a workout you want to be helping to repair the muscle tissue that you have just torn through by eating or drinking good carbs and proteins. Alcohol will slow down that recovery process because the body is not designed to store alcohol so is focused on removing the alcohol as priority, as opposed to burning fat.

Further, while we all think we sleep better after a few drinks this is simply not the case. Research from the University of Miami showed alcohol disrupts the sleep cycle and “can reduce your human growth hormone output (responsible for building muscle) by as much as 70%”. Eek!


Bad for your health

Particularly for women! If you are fit and regularly training this can lead you to believing yourself invincible from the bad effects of drinking such as liver disorders, diabetes and some cancers including an increase in the risk of breast cancer. Women also have more body fat than men, which means they cannot absorb alcohol as well, women have a lower concentration of “dehydrogenase, the primary enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the body”.

Unfortunately more and more trends in research suggest women – particularly active and educated women are drinking more than ever. In fact, after an ‘additional bender’ the minutes of ‘total and vigorous’ exercise minutes increased. Guilty much?


Future Performance

If you are knocking back a couple in the evening and then backing up in the morning at the gym you may be at a disadvantage before you even start. Alcohol causes dehydration, which will impact your physical function. It can also mean your liver is not efficiently producing blood sugar because its trying to process the alcohol. There goes your intensity.


There is no reason why you can’t enjoy a drink or two but we may need to rethink our “work hard, party hard” mantra if we want to maintain a good health.

A trip to the gym every day does not give you a free ride at all in the alcohol department, not every night at least.


Do you drink after working out at the gym? If so, what drinks do you usually opt for? 



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