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Too much alcohol can hurt your overall well-being. When you drink in excess, it takes a toll on your mental and physical health. This applies to fitness as well.
You should never drink alcohol before you work out because it impairs your judgment and motor skills. For these reasons, drinking alcohol before working out can be dangerous.
This is especially true if you're weight-lifting, or running outside where there may be traffic.
Drinking after your workout can also ruin some of your progress and negatively impacts your overall health. Alcohol interferes with rehydration, protein synthesis, and overall recovery, which you need after a workout.6
All of this can affect your immune and cognitive functioning, mood, appetite (which can lead you to make unhealthy choices), and more.
Again, drinking alcohol can make your workout more dangerous. It increases your risk for injury and can affect your workout in other ways as well.
Yes, alcohol does interfere with muscle repair and growth.
When you drink alcohol, it may take your muscles longer to repair and grow. This is because alcohol contributes to protein breakdown, which you need to build strength.
Some research does show drinking before working out is marginally less bad than doing so afterwards.5
Alcohol dehydrates you, making your muscles feel stiff. This means drinking alcohol may make you feel your workout more, even if you only had one or a few drinks.
Alcohol negatively impacts your workout because it increases fatigue.
If you consume alcoholic beverages the night before a workout, your performance may be off.
Specifically, alcohol increases epinephrine levels, which is a stress hormone.2 It boosts your heart rate, meaning it can keep you awake and disrupt sleep. So, if you drink alcohol and work out the next day, you will feel extra tired.
If you have a hangover from consuming too much alcohol, that can also lead to poor performance.
It does this in two ways:
Both of these things can negatively impact your workout, especially if it's a rigorous session.
If you have alcohol in your system, or if you are hungover going into a workout, it's important to drink extra fluids to keep yourself hydrated.
Research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggests that rehydration after exercise is especially important when you have fluid loss from alcohol.3
How long you should wait to drink alcohol after working out depends on your fitness goals and drinking behavior.
Having a glass of wine in the evening after a workout won't drastically impact your attempt at a healthy lifestyle. But it can slow your progress, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
Yes, you can drink in moderation while maintaining your fitness goals.
But every single body is different, and it's important to listen to yours. If you find that you don't exercise well when you drink alcohol, drink less. If you find it's responsible for many of the calories you consume, consider cutting back or stopping completely.
At the end of the day, alcohol could hurt your exercise routine and slow your growth. Recovery time from just one night of drinking might throw you off track.
Plus, it may take your body longer to recover from your workouts and any possible injuries if you drink in excess.
Symptoms of alcoholism include the following:2
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder (AUD), know that help is available.
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