Happy hour after a workout? See how to get it right | livestrong.com (2023)

Happy hour after a workout? See how to get it right | livestrong.com (1)

Many road races offer a celebratory beer or other adult beverage at the finish line, but alcohol isn't the best option right after exercise.

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How bad is it really? sheds light on all the habits and behaviors you've heard can be detrimental to your health.

After a tough, sweaty workout, you might want to reward yourself with a night on the town or a glass (or two) of wine on the couch. But while half of you are thinking,I deserve!​, the other half feel guilty about drinking after exercising, even if they aren't sure​whyIs it a bad idea.


Your second half is on the right track: Experts agree that sticking to a workout with a few colds is generally not a healthy habit, as it can slow your recovery and make injuries worse. But there's also good news: There are several guidelines you can follow to drink more responsibly.

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Here, we'll break down the effect alcohol has on your body post-exercise, along with some expert advice on how to engage without completely ruining your progress.


How alcohol affects your post-workout recovery

Increases the risk of dehydration

The biggest concern when it comes to drinking alcohol after exercise is dehydration. Like caffeine, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it stimulates the body to release more fluids (ie, it causes more trips to the bathroom). This is not ideal when you are trying to rehydrate after a workout.


"When we exercise, especially at higher intensities or when it's hot, we lose a lot of fluid through sweat, we deplete electrolytes, and we can also experience a reduction in blood volume as the body tries to cool itself," Roger explains. Adams. , PhD , a Houston-based certified sports nutritionist and founder ofEat well. It is important to restore these fluid levels after exercising, but drinking alcohol can slow this process.

Additionally, "when your body is dehydrated, alcohol can also affect your brain function more profoundly, impairing judgment and contributing to unsafe behaviors," says Lev Kalika, D.C., chiropractor and owner ofDynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy New YorkIn New York.


Your hydration is even more of a concern if you don't recharge with a post-workout meal or snack, says Kalika. "This would cause severe dehydration and electrolyte depletion, which can lead to serious medical problems and even death."

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Can make injuries worse

“Exercise causes metabolic changes in the blood, which remain balanced during exercise but unbalanced during recovery,” he explains.lesley campana, certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, and brain health coach at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California.



These changes can affect your body's natural healing abilities, Bell says, such as your blood's ability to clot. And drinking alcohol after a workout can slow the process of getting back on track, so any injuries sustained or aggravated during exercise, including simple bruises, are likely to heal more slowly.

"Alcohol consumption after exercise can also lead to additional tissue inflammation, as it opens up blood vessels, which can make the injury worse," says Adams.


You may find it more difficult to build muscle

Alcohol can also slow down your body's repair process after you exercise. "This is especially true of exercises that cause a lot of muscle damage and soreness, such as resistance training with a lot of eccentric movements, descents, or running," says Adams.

A small study published in February 2014 in the journalplus onelooked at three groups of participants who performed high-intensity weight training and aerobic exercise (i.e., a HIIT-like workout). At the end, one group ate a protein shake, another ate the protein shake and alcohol, and the third group ate carbohydrates and alcohol.


"Muscle recovery was more negatively affected in the carbohydrate and alcohol group, suggesting that lack of muscle-building nutrients such as protein combined with alcohol causes delayed muscle recovery," Adams explains.

It can put a lot of stress on your body.

Alcohol decreases cortical activity, or the parts of the brain responsible for movement, speech, and decision-making, according to a March 2013 article inInternational Journal of Neurobiology. That's not good news when your body is still a bit off balance from the sweat session.



"Your nervous system is already using a considerable amount of energy to deal with the stress your body just endured at the gym. By drinking post-workout, you're actually making it harder for your body to find balance on a cellular level." Bell explains. . This, in turn, places even more stress on the body's metabolic and cardiovascular processes, which can interfere with a healthy recovery.

"It's true that consuming alcohol in moderation has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but too much alcohol, especially in athletes, impairs neuromuscular actions and can reduce strength and performance."

Do happy hour the right way

If you choose to drink alcohol after exercising, there are a few things you can do to lessen the negative effects, according toNational Association of Collegiate Athletes.

Before drinking alcohol, be sure to drink enough water to make up for the amount of fluid you lost from sweating. This requires a bit of planning in advance.

oCollegiate and Professional College of Sports Nutritionistsrecommends drinking 16 to 20 ounces of water at least four hours before starting your workout, then 8 to 12 ounces about 15 minutes before. Also, you should drink 3 to 8 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes while you exercise. And then, drink 16 to 24 ounces of water or sports drink for every pound of body weight you lose during your workout.

Also, try to drink three times as much water as alcohol while drinking.

Have a nutritious meal after your workout

A meal or snack that contains carbohydrates and protein right after you exercise will help replenish energy stored in your muscles. Eating while drinking alcohol will also help slow its absorption, but Adams cautions against consuming typical bar food. "The calories can add up quickly, since these foods are often high in fat and carbohydrates," he says.


Drink instead of swallow

When it comes to drinking, certified personal trainereric fleishmanrecommend taking it easy. "Taking a sip of alcohol will flood your system with sugar and intoxicating, mind-altering properties," she says. So make a mental note to savor your sips.

don't drink to excess

Like anything else, it's best to keep alcohol (especially post-workout) to moderate levels. "It's true that consuming alcohol in moderation has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but too much alcohol, especially in athletes, affects neuromuscular actions and [can] reduce strength and performance," Bell cautions.


Drinking post-workout is not something you should do regularly, as it can slow down the recovery process, make injuries worse, and leave you susceptible to dehydration, which can be dangerous. But if you plan ahead and take the time to replenish your body with the fluids and nutrients it needs first, you can lessen the negative effects of the occasional post-workout happy hour.

related reading

  • How bad is it not to shower after working out?
  • How bad is it to exercise before bed really?
  • How bad is it to exercise with really sore muscles?



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