From Charles Poliquin
Unfortunately, Yes. Drinking alcohol after training or competition is a horrible idea. Alcohol will erase all possible performance gains and delay recovery. The effect is especially bad for anyone trying to lose fat, put on muscle, fight chronic fatigue, or recover quickly for another competition.
A new study suggests that men who drank alcohol after intense training (6 sets of 80 percent of the 1RM squats) experienced decreased uptake of testosterone to the muscle tissue. This would compromise muscle and strength development in the long run, and also blunt any body fat loss.
The study was interesting because at first glance it shows that free testosterone was actually elevated in response to the combination of intense and alcohol. But researchers think the elevation in bioavailable testosterone is NOT anabolic, and indicates that things aren’t working quite right in the body due to the presence of alcohol.
They haven’t figured out what exactly is going on yet, but in light of the other data we have on alcohol and athletic performance, you can see drinking is better avoided:
One study found that in elite rugby players who were given alcohol equaling 7 drinks with dinner had higher cortisol and estrogen and decreased power output during a workout the next morning.
Not only will a “hangover” decrease peak performance and recovery, but it will compromise learning and skill development during practice as well. The rugby players had worse reaction time, cognition, and decision making in response to alcohol.
Just three standard drinks of alcohol decreased maximal strength ability by 45 percent in men 12 hours after ingesting alcohol.
A smaller dose of 1.5 standard drinks didn’t affect maximal strength ability. Still, small doses can decrease neural drive to the muscles, which could compromise repeated strength performance.
Habitually drinking small doses of alcohol may affect strength and power generation ability since even small amounts of alcohol increase aromatization in which testosterone is turned into estrogen.
Researchers think that the biggest danger of drinking alcohol post-exercise is for a poor hormonal environment for muscle building and fat loss. If body composition is your goal, you simply must avoid everything from red wine to vodka. There is no middle of the road option if you’re trying to lose fat or put on significant muscle.
If are reading this in an inebriated state and want tips to speed detoxification of alcohol, check out these TIPS.
Vingren, J., et al. Post-Resistance Exercise Ethanol Ingestion and Acute Testosterone Bioavailability. Medicine and science in Sports and exercise. 2013. Published Ahead of Print.
Hansen, M., Thulstrup, A., et al. Does Last Week’s Alcohol Intake Affect Semen Quality or Reproductive Hormones: A Cross-Sectional Study Among Healthy Young Danish Men. Reproductive Toxicology. 2012. 34, 457-462.
Murphy, A., Snapa, A., et al. Alcohol and Rugby League Recovery. The Effect of Post-Match Alcohol Ingestion on Recovery from Competitive Rugby League Matches. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.