Alcohol After Exercise

min read


The Sports Injury Clinic

June 30, 2020


To understand the effect that alcohol consumption has on recovery, it is important to know what reactions occur in muscle tissue following a bout of strenuous exercise.

Following vigorous sport or exercise, the body endures a range of processes and chemical changes to deal with the stress you have put it through. Temporary muscle breakdown and micro tears occur and a high percentage of fuel stores are depleted, which as a result, an inflammatory response is initiated, sending the body into a state of dysfunction and repair. Depending on your body's ability to recover and other choices you make e.g. alcohol consumption, sleep quality etc. athletic qualities such as speed, power and endurance can be affected for up to 1-3 days or even more. 

So what happens when you drink alcohol? 

There are varying factors that affect how efficient and individual digests alcohol, e.g. body weight, sex, general digestive efficiency, nutritional behaviours. However, it has been shown that just 2 standard drinks can drop testosterone dramatically to which the body becomes more interested in detoxing. As a result, the inflammatory response caused by your training or games will be amplified, causing a delay in the beginning of the recovery process that should be involving nutrient replenishment, protein and carbohydrates uptake as well as rehydration etc. 

Alcohol competes with sugars for digestion and will often win as the body views it as a toxic chemical. Therefore, however long your body takes to digest all the alcohol you have consumed, the recovery process will have been delayed that much. With that said, if you can replenish your body with a good source of protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes immediately after and before you consume alcohol, the effect outlined above can be reduced.

Other negative effects of alcohol consumption in association with sport are its ability to decrease fat oxidation (the ability to break down fat and use it as an energy source), as well as an increase in calories which leads to it being stored as fat. 


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