Bodybuilding can often lend itself to more of a hermit lifestyle. Bodybuilders are the type to live the, “eat, train, sleep,” lifestyle and plan much of their daily life around those goals. What happens, though, if a bodybuilder wants to hit the bar for a few brews?
This particular study analyzed subjects performing a lifting + conditioning workout followed by consumption of either a protein shake or a protein shake + beer. It was found that the group that consumed beer following training had a much lower protein synthesis response to training than the protein group – even though both groups consumed protein following training (Parr et al. 2014). Why is this the case? Alcohol consumption interferes with many individual signalers in the protein synthesis cascade by impairing their activation. If these signals cannot activate, the protein synthesis cascade cannot proceed as planned. You can read more about this in our article on Alcohol and Gains here.
However, one item to note in this particular study is that a large amount of alcohol was consumed – subjects, on average, consumed the equivalent of about 8 beers. A thirsty night for sure, but certainly not unheard of. As we mention in our Alcohol and Gains article, other studies have examined alcohol intake at less enthusiastic levels and didn’t find quite the same protein synthesis impairment as Parr et al. (2014).
The main takeaway here is that moderate alcohol consumption (2-3 drinks at most) is probably fine and won’t cause significant issues with gains. However, when it comes to muscle growth, alcohol does NOT confer any positive benefits, and it’s a slippery slope to impaired gains once you start chugging. In a perfect world, we’d recommend to avoid alcohol all together. But, we understand that people like to relax and have a good time while still wanting to maintain their hard-earned gains. Stick to moderate alcohol consumption when you choose to drink and try to up your protein intake throughout the rest of the day to moderate some of the negative consequences of alcohol.
Parr, E. B., Camera, D. M., Areta, J. L., Burke, L. M., Phillips, S. M., Hawley, J. A., & Coffey, V. G. (2014). Alcohol ingestion impairs maximal post-exercise rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis following a single bout of concurrent training. PLoS One, 9(2).