“Moderate” amounts of booze slow muscle recovery


As of September 2017, new Sweat Science columns are being published at www.outsideonline.com/sweatscience. Check out my bestselling new book on the science of endurance, ENDURE: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, published in February 2018 with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell.

- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)


My latest column in the Globe takes on a topic of seasonal significance: alcohol and exercise. Researchers at Massey University in New Zealand have been doing some very interesting research about the links between alcohol and recovery from DOMS; and there are some other factors like glycogen replenishment and dehydration that come into play:

Earlier this year, researchers in New Zealand published a surprising study that found significant delays in muscle recovery when the subjects drank a “moderate” amount of alcohol after a strenuous workout. The findings join a little-known body of research suggesting that alcohol can sap your morning-after strength even if you’re not hung over.

The subjects in the new study did a series of leg exercises, then had 90 minutes to drink either straight orange juice or a mix of vodka and orange juice before going to bed. Over the next three days, the alcohol group didn’t report feeling any additional leg soreness compared to the OJ group – but their loss of strength in a series of tests was 1.4 to 2.8 times greater.[READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE…]

(So that I don’t get accused of being a Scrooge, let me give away one of the article’s conclusions: truly moderate consumption, i.e. of a drink or two, shouldn’t have any effects on your recovery.)

4 Replies to ““Moderate” amounts of booze slow muscle recovery”

  1. Whew!……………(says the girl nursing a scotch after a work-out at the gym.) I was hoping for better news but I’ll accept little or no harm done.

  2. They worked out for 3 days straight? My muscles would give out on me as well if I did that. Did they switch the experimental group with the controlled group since the study wasn’t blinded or double blinded?

  3. @Poptart
    They just worked out once, then their soreness was assessed (without working out) for the next three days. And the study was theoretically blinded (OJ vs OJ plus vodka), though it’s hard to imagine that the subjects couldn’t tell whether their drinks were spiked.

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