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What Actually Happens When You Drink Right After A Workout?
Is it healthy to go from the bar to bar? Read this before you have that post-gym cocktail.
Sure you need to hydrate after your workout, but some gyms and fitness events are offering more than water to clients. Having a drink after exercise is gaining popularity thanks to studios that are hosting post-class wine parties, races that offer vino lovers special tastings and even obstacle course challenges, where a celebratory beer is often available at the finish line.
Not to be a total buzzkill, but the trend does raise the inevitable question: is it healthy to start drinking before your sweat even has a chance to dry?
As you probably figured, one drink is unlikely to have much of a negative impact, says Jakob Vingren, PhD, an associate professor of kinesiology and biology at the University of Texas who studies the association between alcohol and exercise. However, three or more could affect you—and your workouts—in unexpected ways. After cardio, alcohol could impact your body’s store of glycogen, the primary fuel for working out at higher intensities, causing you to feel fatigued faster during your next workout. Drinking after resistance training could reduce protein synthesis, the process that’s needed for your muscles to rebuild and grow stronger, Dr. Vingren says. So you might be slightly sabotaging your strength-building and toning. (Although enjoying a high-protein recovery snack while drinking might help a bit, found a study in the journal PLoS One.)
Swear you’ll only have a few sips? Everyone does. But people tend to drink more than they planned on days that they exercise more than usual, found research by David E. Conroy, PhD, a professor in Preventive Medicine-Behavioral Medicine at Northwestern University.
The good news: having the occasional drink or two after a workout is an inarguably fun way to treat yourself after a grueling series of burpees, and it won’t do much harm—unless you’re training for a race or strength competition. In that case: Save the bubbly until after you PR.