Beer and training? Let’s start with the good news. One or two beers now and again is unlikely to have a huge impact on your training as long as the rest of your nutrition and recovery is in good shape. In fact, a few occasional sessions of moderate beer consumption can help reduce stress levels and apparently lower heart disease risk.
You need to eat big and lift big. But I prefer to eat as much lean meat and green veg as possible and save the calories for Guinness. It keeps you sane. – Jason Momoa (AKA Aquaman)
If your goal is to be generally fit, strong and you’re not looking to get perfect abs then as long as you’re not smashing down 3 pints a few times a week you should be ok.
Unfortunately, if you want to be super lean (fitness model style) under 10% body fat – unless you’re 16 – 22 years old, genetically lucky or perhaps on some special juice, the likelihood is you will need to drop the alcohol. Also, sadly, the science says that if you want to be top of your fitness game you would be better off avoiding the beers.
Pamela Nisevich Bede, M.S., R.D., and RW Fuel School columnist said:
“If you’re vying for a spot on the podium, you might want to abstain while in training. Various studies suggest that alcohol intake leads to dehydration (anyone who has ever suffered from a hangover knows this), decreases uptake of glucose and amino acids by the skeletal muscles, adversely affects the body’s energy supply, and impairs metabolic processes during exercise.”
Of course drinking less beer / alcohol is better for you, but you don’t necessarily have to give it up completely to stay healthy. If you want to stay fit and progress your training while still enjoying a pint or three here are some suggestions to minimise the impact:
- Choose alcohol that has lower alcohol by volume (ABV). Higher ABV equals more calories so the stronger the beer the more your fighting the empty calories.
- Make sure you eat well before you drink. Ideally something rich in protein and good fats. It’s not an accident that wine is often consumed with cheese!
- Avoid stuffing a kebab, chips and/or a burger at the end of your session. Eating after drinking might not be so bad and help absorb the alcohol, but choose nutritious, healthier foods.
- Drink water between pints to stay hydrated and ensure you’ve had plenty of water before bed.
- Avoid drinking in the post-exercise anabolic window. This is when your body is most depleted and needs quality nutrients not empty calories.
- Avoid drinking alcohol in the 24 hours after training, particularly if it was a heavy session.
- Make sure you’re well rested before and after drinking.
- Plan to rest well, have a good morning meal and be in a good state to do some extra cardio the next day.
So, it’s not all bad news. Unless you’re a fitness or sport professional, you don’t have to become a teetotaller. However, the science suggests the impact form occasional beers is small, although it’s definitely best to minimise your alcohol intake and avoid mixing drinks and your training regime too close together.