Science Behind Alcohol and Recovery

How does alcohol affect recovery from weight training?

This has is being discussed in the ‘get a life’ forum at the moment but the discussion is mainly along the lines of personal opinion and experience. (Useful but clearly not the whole story)

I am mainly interested in the marginal effects of one-two beers during a post training meal on a weekday. I would guess the effects I’m talking about would probably affect recovery at the same level as non hormonal supplementation.

Someone has already posted some research in the other thread which describes last effects upon fat usuage in the body from even a very small quantity. Conclusion don’t eat fatty foods in a meal with alcohol.

The other possible effects would seem to be: raised estrogen/testosterone, decreased protein synthesis in muscles and decreased glycogen uptake my skeletal muscles.

We know these things are affected by alcohol, the question is how much to create a significant effect?

So will one beer with my post training steak affect muscle recovery by ~50%, ~20% or ~5%?

Weighed against this is my ancedotal experience that after an ME day I am keener and more excited to train sooner when I have a beer during the evening afterwards. Is there any hard evidence to support this experience? Or is this a placebo effect?

(Clearly an evening spent off your face is not good for recovery or performence. However to me one of these a week is non-negotiable. Partying is fun and there’s plenty of time to not party when you’re old.)

From swurvenm

This is the kind of info I’d like to hear about. Although including references as well would be awesome!

"The main problem with alcohol is not the number of calories it contains but rather the effect is has on fat metabolism. A recent study, for example, has shown that even small amounts of alcohol has a large impact on fat metabolism.

In this study eight men were given two drinks of vodka and lemonade separated by 30 minutes. Each drink contained just under 90 calories. Fat metabolism was measured before and after consumption of the drink. For several hours after drinking the vodka, whole body lipid oxidation (a measure of how much fat your body is burning) dropped by 73%.

The reason why alcohol has this dramatic effect on fat metabolism has to do with the way alcohol is handled in the body. When alcohol is consumed, it readily passes from the stomach and intestines into the blood and goes to the liver. In the liver, an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase mediates the conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde is rapidly converted to acetate by other enzymes. So rather than getting stored as fat, the main fate of alcohol is conversion into acetate, the amount of acetate formed is dose dependant on the amount of alcohol consumed. For example, blood levels of acetate after drinking the vodka were 2.5 times higher than normal. And it appears this sharp rise in acetate puts the brakes on fat loss.

The type of fuel your body uses is dictated to some extent by availability. This is one of the reasons for the induction phase of the Metabolic Diet. By severely limiting your carb intake your body is forced to rev up it?s fat burning machinery, so that you become fat adapted, and increase the use of protein for some of the functions, such as anaplerosis, that carbs are usually heavily involved in.

In other words, your body tends to use whatever you feed it, and after a time becomes adapted to the macronutrient intake. Unfortunately when acetate levels rise, your body burns the acetate preferentially, since acetate is basically the same product of beta oxidation of fatty acids and glycolysis (glucose to pyruvate to acetate), but it doesn?t? require the metabolic work to produce.

So the body simply burns the acetate first, and with the rapid rise seen with alcohol intake, basically pushes fat oxidation out of the metabolic equation.

Because acetate is readily formed from alcohol it can be worse than taking in carbs as far as affecting fat metabolism. That?s because glucose has to be sequentially metabolized through various steps to form acetate while acetate is formed from alcohol in just a few steps.

Also alcohol, because of it can be considered part way between carbs and fats, has more calories than carbs. That?s why even the low carb beers contain under 100 calories even though they only have about 2.5 grams of carbs and .5 grams of protein. While the carbs and protein only make up 12 calories, the 12 grams of alcohol make up the remaining 80 or so calories."- from metabolic diet found on

Youll never look like cutler or coleman or even Lesnar if you dont cut the alcohol… sorry mange