Don’t Drink and Deadlift: Do Those Post Bicep Curl Beers Impair Maximal Rates of Muscle Protein Synthesis?

Don’t Drink and Deadlift: Do Those Post Bicep Curl Beers Impair Maximal Rates of Muscle Protein Synthesis?

Do you even lift bro?Yeah man I cross-fit… Oh awesome, me too! Lets grab a beer after we do our daily physiologically unorganised exercise to fully confuse the shit out of our bodies!

Ok, so I got a bit carried away there with my dislike of cross-fits physiological basis for anything other than cross-fit. Although I do have to say that I am big fan of exercise communities and how they enhance participation in a form (kind of) of exercise I am passionate about!

But prior to my general ramblings (apologies).. Just how contradicting is that opening statement? Does it matter? and is having an AWESOME social life hindering your obsession for aesthetics and/or athletic performance?

*Full disclosure: This post is 100% inspired by the rocking hangovers which the WTW team are nursing today after attending the opening party to the DCBKK conference. Check out the picture to see how fun we are.  Jokes… but seriously we are WAY fun*


It is well documented that in the post-exercise period that the focus to create a physiological environment which elicits maximal adaptations to training (Hawley et al, 2011) via maximising the protein synthetic rate (Phillips, 2006) and replenishing the glycogen stores (Stellingwerff et al, 2011) of your exercised muscles – But where does alcohol come into this?

Social cultures involved in sporting settings often denote to everyone going for beers after the match/game under the overriding accepted assumptions that if you don’t you not one of the lads and the most obvious accepted reason, being social is FUN.. and we like FUN! This is even evident in the literature with athletes (Burke & Read, 1988; O’Brien, 1993) documented as more prevalent to high alcohol intake rates than the general population, with large proportions (~50-60%) consuming intakes above the threshold classified as hazardous drinking (Martins et al, 2006; O’Brien et al, 2007).

Thisbinge drinking post exercise unsurprisingly elicits direct effects on physiological processes (Barnes et al, 2010; 2011) in addition to indirect negative effects on recovery, however this is more important in an athletic performance setting. Although consuming carbohydrate (CHO) with alcohol has been documented to partially offset the aforementioned direct effects, (in this case the partial rescuing of post-exercise glycogen re-synthesis (Burke et al, 2003) this is not permission for you to have a pizza after your night out! NO… just NO!

The literature examining the effect of alcohol on muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is scarce, with the majority of work limited to rodent studies which outline the detrimental effects of both acute and chronic alcohol ingestion in cellular signaling pathways (Kumar et al, 2002; Lang et al, 1998; 2003; 2004; 2008) which mediate the synthesis of new myofibrillar proteins (Protein synthesis = GAINS). Recent work undertook by Parr et al (2014) in physically active males after a bout of concurrent (essentially cross fit; angry/jokey face) documented that when blood alcohol concentration (ALC) was elevated above baseline (Lads) and ingested with either carbohydrate (ALC-CHO) or protein (ALC-PRO) during recovery, molecular indices of protein synthesis (Nerd corner: mTOR & p70S6K) were hierarchal impaired by 24% (ALC-PRO) and 34% (ALC-CHO) respectively when comparable to control (Smashing 25g whey protein post work-out).

However, there is always a however, MPS rates were elevated above baseline in ALL CONDITIONS.

It is important to regress back to the aforementioned need to create a physiologically optimal environment post-exercise to maximise adaptation and although drinking alcohol does not do this, even with protein, this does not mean you will not recover, adapt and be hypertrophic (muscle growth).

Remember who you are and what your goals are. In an elite performance setting when your body has to tolerate large volumes of training at high intensities recovery is essential. If you are looking for aesthetics, then you will know the caloric intake of alcohol is large, so you need to create balance, make informed decisions (Gin and slimline tonic is THE ONE) or decide what is more important to you in life.. train your ass off and stick with it. If you live an active lifestyle and want to enjoy yourself.. then you can afford to feel that little bit sorer in the morning.

Basically.. unless you are an elite athlete or value protruding abdominals greater than fun don’t cry about it and go for a beer with your friends!


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