Booze, Training, & Fitness: Impact and Mitigation


Summer is here, and with it comes the BBQ's, pool parties, sporting events, and whatever other social gatherings that nearly always revolve around America's favorite past time - drinking alcohol. 

Let me state this clearly - if you like to drink, party on. The mentality that booze is the great evil and antithesis of physical development is too black and white.

It's true - drinking hurts performance in the short term and continued overconsumption (particular as we exit our 20's) can lead to #gainz of the fat variety in the long term. 

If you don't want to read the rest of this, here's a few realistic guidelines for mitigating the effects of drinking:

  1. Don't mix your hard alcohol with sugary shit (soda, fake fruit juice, pre-made mixes).
  2. Drink water in-between alcoholic drinks to reduce the hangover.
  3. Increase protein intake during the day - preferably a real protein, but a shake will do.
  4. Resist the drunken hunger pains - they aren't real. 
  5. Don't drink Michelob Ultra unless you like looking ridiculous. 

How Booze Impacts Training & Performance

Given the need to promote protein synthesis that underpins adaptation, repair and regeneration of skeletal muscle the results of the current study provide clear evidence of impaired recovery when alcohol is consumed after concurrent (resistance, continuous and intermittent high-intensity) exercise even in the presence of optimal nutritional conditions. (Parr, Camera, Areta, 2014)

The biggest impact of drinking (specifically binge drinking) beyond the brutal hangover is its impact on the body's ability to recover and adapt following training.

A study by RMIT University in Australia explored how binge drinking affected training metrics for a group of collegiate student-athletes. The athletes followed their assigned strength and conditioning program, and then were fed these guys vodka and orange juice until they were at, or slightly above the legal driving limit in Australia.

Alcohol Ingestion Impairs Maximal Post-Exercise Rates of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following a Single Bout of Concurrent Training - Parr, Camera, Areta

Alcohol Ingestion Impairs Maximal Post-Exercise Rates of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following a Single Bout of Concurrent Training - Parr, Camera, Areta

Their findings reported a 37% decrease in muscle protein synthesis, which is critical to the recovery and adaption phase following any form of progressive training. 

The second group followed the same train + drink protocol but were provided a protein supplement immediately following training. This group reported a 24% decrease in muscle protein synthesis. 

What's this mean?

If you're going to go hard in the paint, ensure you consume additional protein before or following training to mitigate the loss of your body's ability to properly recover. You won't get as much out of your training, but it will help mitigate


What About One or Two Drinks?


Few things are as delicious as a beer following a hard workout. I've always felt a little guilty about it, thinking I was erasing the work I had just done.

Guess what? It doesn't matter. 

A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology measured the effects of drinking a vodka and orange juice (I don't know why this is the standard drink for physiologists) after a training session for ten males and repeated the test with no alcohol. The test subjects reported no change in muscular contraction force. No harm, no foul.  

If you're thinking that a beer after exercise will further dehydrate you, that also appears to be inaccurate. A seperate study compared the hydration of effects of a beer versus water after strenuous activity. 

Beer intake did not adversely affect any measured parameter. Fluid balance and urine excretion values did not differ between the rehydration strategies. (Jimenez-Pavon, Cervantes, Diaz, 2015)

Drink your beer and enjoy the beautiful feeling of hydration. Keep in mind, I highly doubt this rule applies after one or two adult beverages.


I'm Hungover Right Now - What Kind of Training Should I Do

First off, if you're hungover and still have the drive to train, you're a better man than I am. With the exception of one cumulative hangover from a bachelor party (screw you, Dan), I haven't had a serious hangover in a while. The one aforementioned bachelor party ruined me until Wednesday... and I got home Sunday.

If you are hungover, don't lift heavy weights. I repeat, do not lift heavy weights. Your body is in a state of a slow recovery as your liver processes out eight IPA's. Everything performance related will take a hit, but your strength/power will be the most severely effected.

Light loads, moderate intensity, aerobic base training is the way to go. This can be a run, or it can be something similar to the gym-based aerobic work we do here at LOD. 

Get moving, make sure you're drinking fluids consistently, and avoid the desire to go to Waffle House


Don't Get White Girl Wasted


This might be my favorite term in the lexicon. We've all seen or been the drunk stumbling out onto the street with the sole mission of finding the nearest late night pizza/pancake/burger joint.

Avoid this at all costs. Don't scarf down a day's worth of caloric intake in one greasy sitting. Despite what your mind is telling you, it's not needed. Go home and go to sleep - no one wants to talk to your drunk ass anyways. 

Enjoy the summer with your friends, family, and a cold one. Just do so intelligently and in moderation. 

Questions? Email






Parr EB, Camera DM, Areta JL, Burke LM, Phillips SM, Hawley JA, et al. (2014) Alcohol Ingestion Impairs Maximal Post-Exercise Rates of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following a Single Bout of Concurrent Training. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88384.

Barnes, M.J., Mündel, T. & Stannard, S.R. Eur J Appl Physiol (2011) 111: 725.

Jiménez-Pavón D, Cervantes-Borunda MS, Díaz LE, Marcos A, Castillo MJ.
Effects of a moderate intake of beer on markers of hydration after exercise in the heat: a crossover study.
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jun 6;12:26. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0088-5. eCollection 2015.