Pre-workouts and Alcohol (does pre-workout affect alcohol?)

January 8, 2024 |

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This article will make you aware of the pros and cons of mixing pre-workout and alcohol.

I get that hitting the bottle sets you in the mood, and this is why you might be getting ideas of adding in a pint or two of your favorite booze in your regular pre-workout.

But combining alcohol with pre-workout supplements will not only dim out their potential to boost your performance and gains, but it will also expose you to serious health and safety risks.

You can think of combining your favorite alcoholic beverage like wine, beer, or vodka and pre-workout as an ill-fated union of Romeo and Juliet since it does seem to go down well but will eventually derange your system.

Because claims are incomplete without scientific justifications and evidence of the user experience, hover over the following sections to know the details.

Is it Bad to take Pre-workout and Drink Alcohol?

Yes, mixing pre-workout with alcohol or leaping onto a glass of alcoholic beverage after having a pre-workout is a terrible idea.

Sandwiching a glass of alcohol between your pre-workout and workout can have detrimental consequences and make it hard for you to move a leg, eventually scaling down your workout performance to zero.

Before I dig into the details, here is the conclusion: According to the CDC, mixing alcohol with caffeine and energy drinks is dangerous since pre-workouts have caffeine and their formulations are also similar to those of energy drinks; you need to be cautious.

Numerous ingredients are used in pre-workouts, but I will be mainly focusing on the interaction of only the four commonly pursued active ingredients in most performance-boosting supplements with alcohol.

These are caffeine, creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, and Nitrogen Oxide boosters.

You may be able to infer the destructive relationship between the two beverages from these two studies for alcohol and caffeine that discuss their mechanism of action.

Since we all are aware that caffeine is the primary ingredient and a Central Nervous system stimulant added to pre-workouts, it triggers the release of acetylcholine to bring about its effects.

But opposed to this, the ethanol in your alcoholic beverages impedes the Central Nervous System, which cancels out the stimulating effect of the pre-workout drink and inhibits the release of acetylcholine.

Moreover, this review analyzed multiple studies and reported that consuming one gram of ethanol can lead to approximately 10 mL of urine production. Thus, as caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, consuming them together may also increase the risk of excessive dehydration.

The muscle and bone-building effect that occurs from the consumption of creatine containing pre-workouts contradicts the deteriorating effects of alcohol on them, which is another evidence of the incompatibility of the two drinks.

According to this review, considerable evidence proves that even a single glass of alcohol can lead to tissue damage.

Alcohol consumption is linked to disruption of oxidative balance, which triggers myopathy.

It also hinders wound recovery and healing of bone fractures and increases the risk of injury.

But on the other hand, if you refer to this review, 95% of creatine accumulates in the muscle, where it promotes muscle growth and recovery and elevates inflammation.

At the same time, less than 5% of creatine gets stored in bones, where it helps to increase the bone mass and density which, contradictory to alcohol, reduces the risk of fracture. Thus, if you take alcohol with creatine pre-workouts, it will only counter its beneficial effects.

Beta-alanine pre-workouts should come with a warning for pairing it with alcohol because of the liver damage that this combination may induce.

According to this murine research, taurine has protective effects on the liver, and beta-alanine causes the depletion of taurine, which may aggravate the ethanol-induced hepatic dysfunction and increase the risk of fatty liver disease.

Nitrogen Oxide boosters (NO boosters) may amplify the damaging effects of alcohol and wreak havoc on the body.

As per this review, nitric oxide inhibits the ethanol metabolizing enzymes and augments the ethanol-induced liver damage.

Acute low doses of ethanol are already linked to an increase in vasodilation, and supplementation with NO boosters may further dilate the blood vessels, which may cause your blood pressure to dip too low.

As none of the active ingredients have a friendly relationship with alcohol hence, in the next section, I will explain how long you should wait to overcome the effects of alcohol before grabbing your pre-workout and vice versa.

How long after pre-workout can I drink alcohol?

Since drinking alcohol after pre-workouts isn’t an option, you should wait at least an hour (bare minimum) after your workout before having a glass of alcohol.

You need to wait about 20 to 30 minutes for the ingredients in pre-workout to absorb entirely in your system, and after they finally kick in, you are ready for your training.

But if you take alcohol anywhere around this time, either immediately after your pre-workout or during or after the time taken for the absorption of its different ingredients, it will negate its potential to enhance your endurance and performance.

But this doesn’t mean that you are allowed to go on a drinking binge when you are finally done with your gym session.

I know that celebrating sports victory with a beer has become a cultural practice.

But this review has evaluated the impact of post-exercise alcohol on recovery and found that it hinders the healing of skeletal muscle injury and negatively impacts rehydration due to its diuretic effect and affects muscle glycogen resynthesis.

Moreover, the American College of Sports and Medicine (ASCM) has provided this road map to muscle recovery, according to which our muscle soreness requires about 24 to 48 hours to recover with rest.

And according to their position statement on alcohol and athletic performance, if you are an athlete, you should abstain from alcohol for at least 48 hours before an event.

Lastly, to consume alcohol post-exercise, you’re advised to replenish your electrolytes, rehydrate and recover first.

How long should I wait to exercise after drinking alcohol?

You should wait about an hour or two before exercising after drinking alcohol.

Before I answer the question in detail, let me tell you why getting high before exercising is a risky deal. According to this review by National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), consuming alcohol before exercise blunts the motor and cognitive responses.

The position statement of the American College of Sports Medicine also stated that alcohol consumption before exercise impairs various psychomotor skills of athletes like accuracy, reaction time, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and balance which may compromise the athlete’s exercise performance and increase their risk of injury.

Alcohol also enhances fatigue, and even small doses of alcohol have ergolytic effects on endurance and aerobic exercise.

Now coming back to the time duration.

According to the Addiction Center, our genetics, environmental factors, and alcohol intake determine how long it will take for us to sober up. But as a rough estimate, our body processes one standard drink in an hour.

Keeping this in mind, you should wait for the effects of alcohol to entirely subside before you start training to prevent any injuries.

Pre-workout and alcohol Reddit

‘LJhartline’ initiated this Reddit thread with a query that he wants to perform a few deadlifts before ending the day but would it be safe to have pre-workouts after a couple of drinks.

The most concise answer was given by ‘SammyMhmm,’ who replied that caffeine and alcohol do not mix very well together, and this may be inferred from the fate of ‘four lokos,’ which was once a popular drink.

Other Reddit users replied with a couple of suggestions that may benefit you as well.

The users recommended that he should sensibly weigh his options considering that too much caffeine could distort his sleep schedule and see if his stomach would be able to handle too many substances added to it.

One Reddit user advised him to skip the pre-workout and take protein after he is done lifting weight.

Should I Workout After Drinking Alcohol?

You should avoid exercising when you are buzzed to be on the safe side, but some low-intensity exercises may not hurt a lot.

You can go out for a light jog or a walk, set up your mat to do some yoga, stretch some muscles or perform mat Pilates.

But it would be better to avoid high-intensity and endurance exercises. So, do not try to lift weights, and avoid cycling, kickboxing, running, and other such activities.

Final Thoughts

All in all, alcohol and pre-workouts cannot go hand in hand.

You are dragging yourself to the gym every day and supplementing your performance during training with pre-workouts to achieve some workout outcome. And in that case, guzzling a liver-damaging drink such as alcohol will only sabotage your fitness goals.

Since consuming alcohol and pre-workouts together becomes a lot more detrimental to your health, it is better that you indulge in drinking bouts on weekends or no gym days only.

Or you can give yourself time to sober up before supplementing your performance with pre-workouts to prevent any adverse effects.

Enjoy your workout, and stay away from alcohol while you are at it.

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