Is it OK to have a beer after a workout?

Is it OK to have a beer after a workout

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It is not uncommon to see athletes finish a big event and then immediately crack open a celebratory beer. Moreover, that makes sense right?

Beer has water and electrolytes, just like your typical sports drink. Well, sorry to be a buzzkill, but the alcohol in it makes a beer a terrible choice if you want to reap the full benefits of your workout.

After exercising, you feel thirsty because you‘re dehydrated. Therefore, you need something nice and refreshing to replenish your fluids. Water is an obvious choice, but scientists have specifically designed sports drinks that work better.

In addition to water, these contain electrolytes dissolved salts that help your body absorb fluid. Beer usually has at least a little salt in it, though it is only like a tenth of the amount in your average Gatorade.

Still, you might think that is enough to do the trick. But when researchers have compared the hydrating effects of beer to water, and yes, this has happened multiple times water usually comes out on top, even against low-alcohol beers.

Moreover, that is because, while it might quench your thirst in the moment, beer is still a diuretic, it makes you pee more than the same amount of water would. Surely, though, you could just double fist beer and water all night.

Then you would be staying hydrated and getting all those great simple carbs that you need post-workout to replenish all the molecular fuel you just burned. However, alas Research has suggested that the alcohol in those beers can damage your muscles, kind of defeating the purpose of working out.

For a 2014 study, researchers had 8 physically active men come to a lab three times to perform a series of workouts, then consume a set of drinks that contained either protein, protein, and alcohol, or carbs and alcohol. In addition, they found that drinking alcohol led to a reduction in Myofibrillar protein synthesis.

The generation of proteins like actin and myosin, which make for bigger, stronger muscles. So, in other words, their muscles were not rebuilding, as they should.

Muscle biopsies from a similar experiment with the same eight men in 2016 revealed the post-workout alcohol triggered apoptosis, cell death, and breakdown process.

Meanwhile, when they refrained from the booze, they had an increase in new mitochondria, signaling that they were recovering well. However, it is important to note that the participants in these two studies did not just chug a beer or two.

They drank the equivalent of a little over 12 standard drinks over 3 hours by downing vodka on a schedule. The amount was based on what team athletes had actually reported drinking, though.

Moreover, these aren’t the only studies to suggest alcohol impairs recovery. 2014 review study ultimately discourage athletes from drinking after games or workouts, but did admit that having a small amount in celebration is probably fine.

They concluded that less than half a gram per kilogram of body weight, or about three beers for an average adult male, probably would not affect recovery too much. So a few cold ones with your teammates might not do too much damage.

However, if you are looking to rehydrate and build muscle, beer probably should not be your first choice.