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Pre-workout and Alcohol (Can You Mix It Together?)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

In some ways, taking pre-workout supplements is similar to having an alcoholic beverage, as they both give you confidence and make you feel good for a while.

But they definitely do not go together, as combining pre-workouts and alcohol could be disastrous to your health and fitness goals.

To make the risks and dangers involved as clear as possible to my readers and clients, I booked a few sessions with our resident dietitian and sifted through the research I could find on the subject.

In this article, I outlined the truths behind this, so read on for the details.

Quick Summary

  • When combined, caffeine from pre-workout supplements and alcohol can confuse your body about which to metabolize first.
  • The use of alcohol as a pre-workout drink can increase the risk of injury.
  • Drinking beer after a workout could impair protein synthesis and dehydrate your body.

Will Alcohol Ruin Your Pre-Workout?

Glasses of alcohol

Yes, alcohol will ruin your pre-workout, as the mix of caffeine from pre-workout and alcohol can have adverse physiological effects on your body.

Your body does not naturally produce caffeine or alcohol, so your digestive system has to metabolize them.

Keep in mind alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, whereas caffeine is a stimulant.

Your body sees alcohol as a toxin and prioritizes breaking it down in the liver before any other substance [1].

Throwing in a tasty pre-workout supplement into the picture changes things.

Since alcohol has metabolic priority over caffeine, it tends to slow down the effects of your pre-workout.

Your body will waste energy prioritizing the alcohol first. The result is that your body won’t receive the full benefits of the pre-workout.

“Alcohol slows down your reflexes and impairs your balance and hand-eye coordination. If you work out after drinking, your workout will not be fruitful, and since liquor is a diuretic, it may also lead to dehydration.”

- Dr. Debra Brooks MD Northwell-GoHealth Urgent Care

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What Are the Side-Effects of Mixing Them?

Drinking a large amount of mixed alcohol and pre workout

The side-effects of mixing alcohol with pre-workout are both mental and physical.

By drinking alcohol, you’re likely to have lowered inhibitions in your workout, potentially hurting yourself. Also, by mixing pre-workout with alcoholic beverages, you run the risk of potential liver damage and dehydration.

Let’s delve deeper into these three side-effects.

Lowered Inhibitions

While alcohol does make you feel powerful when taken in certain amounts, it does lower your inhibitions.

So you might probably do something that you wouldn’t normally consider when you're sober. In the weight room, this becomes a disaster.

Let’s say your program tells you to squat five sets of 10 reps of 225 lbs on a certain day.

With lowered inhibitions due to alcohol consumption, you might convince yourself that you can do 250 lbs or more. The chances of injury in this scenario are much higher than if you worked out sober.

Increase Risk of Injuries

An injured person inside the gym

Alcohol is a depressant: it slows down your strength, endurance, reaction time, and aerobic capacity [2].

Taking it before exercising leads to a suboptimal and potentially hazardous workout.

Also, consuming alcohol could damage tissues, hinder the repair of muscles and bone fractures, and increase the risk of injuring yourself when working out [3].

So, if you’re suffering from a previous injury, drinking alcohol and exercising are a bad combination.

Potential Liver Damage

Pre-workouts with beta-alanine help fight against muscle fatigue, but they shouldn’t be paired with alcohol because the combination might lead to liver damage.

According to research, beta-alanine depletes taurine (which is known to protect the liver), leading to an increased risk of fatty liver disease [4].

Dehydration

Hydrating yourself before a workout is crucial because it will prevent muscle cramping.

However, the dangerous combination of drinking alcohol and pre-workouts can dehydrate you in the middle of a workout and increase your risk of injury.

Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics, which means they hasten water loss in the human body via urination and diarrhea in extreme cases [5].

So mixing them could have adverse effects on your hydration, which will significantly impact the quality of your workout and generally how you feel.

What To Do if You Drank Some Before Working Out?

Fit woman drinking alcohol from a bottle

If you drank alcohol before working out, the best thing to do is wait it out till its effects wear down.

It's best to avoid exercising overall if you're buzzed. But some low-intensity cardio may not hurt you that much.

You may go out for a light jog or walk, do yoga, or do some basic stretches.

That being said, you must not do any high-intensity training or endurance workouts.

So if you're buzzed, avoid weight training, cycling, kickboxing, sprinting, and other such activities.

However, if you get drunk from too much alcohol — which will depend on your tolerance — we highly suggest you don’t work out on that day. Wait for at least 24 hours before stepping into the gym.

If you’ve rested for a day but suffer a hangover, then you may do some light cardio to ease the symptoms.

FAQs

Will Consuming Alcohol Negatively Affect My Fitness Goals?

Yes, irresponsibly consuming alcohol will negatively affect your fitness goals. Since alcohol tolerance depends on various factors, seek professional medical advice about how much you should consume.

How Long After a Workout Can I Drink Alcohol?

If you're an average, healthy adult, you can drink alcohol at least one hour after finishing your workout. Keep in mind that this is the bare minimum. It’s better to wait a little longer, just to be safe.

Will Alcohol Affect My Gym Gains?

Yes, alcohol will affect your gym gains. Consuming alcohol before working out can increase your risk of injury and potentially dehydrate you, thereby affecting your gains.

Pre-Workout and Alcohol: Our Final Verdict

When taken in excess, both pre-workout and alcohol can be damaging. And when taken together, it could be worse. So, when it comes to exercising, stick with pre-workout only.

Taking high-quality pre-workout supplements for men can help you on your fitness journey by giving you additional energy before working out and assisting your body with muscle repair.

Unlike some other pre-workouts in the market that rely on too many stimulants and harmful ingredients, these pre-workouts that we’ve tried and tested ourselves rely on natural ingredients to boost your energy before a workout.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3484320/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257708/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21118273/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11139413/
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/does-alcohol-dehydrate-you
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