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Fitness & Health

02nd May 2019

What happens when you drink beer before a workout? This study tested it out

Brazilian scientists recently studied the effects of drinking beer the night before training. You'll be surprised at their findings

Alex Roberts

Ever gone for a quiet pint the night before training?

Yes, a ‘quiet’ beer rarely stays that way, and most people would normally sink a couple. But what actually happens when you drink beer the night before a gym session?

Brazilian scientists recently put this to the test.

They looked at the impact of drinking alcohol on performance in the gym, and took a group of men with previous training experience to test the idea out.

Alcohol and gym performance

Subjects were split into the following groups:

  • Non-alcoholic beer + normal sleep
  • Alcoholic beer + normal sleep
  • Non-alcoholic beer + sleep deprivation
  • Alcoholic beer + sleep deprivation

Those drinking alcoholic beer were asked to consume one gram of alcohol per kilo of bodyweight. Most lagers are two units of alcohol, and there are eight grams of alcohol in a unit. So let’s assume they drank around five or six pints.

The non-alcoholic groups drank the equivalent amount in their substitute beers.

Next morning, all involved were sent to the gym to assess the following:

  • Neuromuscular performance (ability to generate power, and how quickly it took to become fatigued)
  • Muscle activation (using the quad extension exercise)

Across all four groups, there was no difference in neuromuscular performance. You might be surprised to learn this, considering the impact hangovers normally have on motivation, mood and energy.

However, it wasn’t all good news.

Scientists found a combination of alcohol and sleep deprivation resulted in significantly lower quad muscle activation. It’s not as bad as skipping leg day entirely, but if you are going to train legs, try and avoid getting too drunk the night before.

Beer and weight loss

If you’re trying to lose weight then it’s worthy keeping a track of your drinking.

That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a beer or a gin and tonic, but alcohol hides a surprising amount of calories.

Dark beers such as a stout will contain anywhere between 350-450 calories, which isn’t really going to help any weight loss effort. On the other hand, a clear spirit with a diet mixer will contain much fewer calories.

Binge drinking will likely result in overeating the following day, but moderate amounts won’t quite have the same impact on your desire for a kebab.

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