Is Booze Giving Your Workout a Hangover?

Okay, so we know that drinking may have a positive effect on longevity. But how is it impacting your workout and your results? Spoiler alert: It’s mostly not good.

First things first, alcohol is packed with useless calories. Alcohol contains a sobering 7 calories per gram – compared to 4 calories per gram with protein and carbs, and 9 calories per gram with fat. But the problem isn’t just with the calories. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that less than 5% of alcohol calories are stored as fat. But the same researchers also discovered that for several hours during and after drinking, “whole-body lipid oxidation” (i.e., your body’s ability to burn fat) was reduced by 73%. That’s where the beer/alcohol gut comes from.

In addition to oxidation, alcohol can negatively affect protein synthesis, ATP output, testosterone and quality of sleep. All of these things can be moderate obstacles in your quest to realize your fitness goal. Frequent drinking can be like taking two steps forward and then one step back.

Many people enjoy the liberation caused by drinking. Indeed, it diminishes control and contributes to loss of judgment. But that same loss of judgment often finds its way into food choices. Research shows that drinking while eating causes people to consume more food calories than when they’re not drinking. According to one study:

When a group of men were given a meal and allowed to eat as much as they wanted, they ate more when the meal was served with beer or wine rather than a soft drink.

But it’s not all bad news. Certain grapes used in red wine production are rich in antioxidants. And some research suggests that healthy, active people who drink moderately are 30% less likely to develop heart disease than nondrinkers. There is also research to suggest that drinking moderately can lower blood pressure and lower the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly.

The bottom line: If you do drink, do it occasionally (i.e., not every night) and moderately (i.e., not until you pass out with your face on the toilet) to minimize the negative effects and maximize the positive ones.

Are the health impacts of heavy or abusive alcohol consumption enough to keep your binge drinking to a minimum? Let us know in the comments below!

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. I should have also mentioned that, aside from a few sips of my dad’s beer as a child, I’ve never consumed alcohol. Despite being a non-drinker, I tried to approach the topic and conduct research with an open mind. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I don’t drink that often, but when I do I drink lots. It’s good to know that at least my semi-moderate drinking habits won’t have a HUGE impact on my exercise regime.

  3. Jack Morton says:

    That is some very sober advice. I must admit I do like to go for a drink with mates but my new years resolution was to have a healthy lifestyle. Shame my friends and Britain as a country are big on alcohol.

  4. High blood pressure and promises to keep a resolution to lose weight can be a high stress situation, and after reading about how alcohol can effectively reduce your results as much as 50% (to take two steps forward and one step back), it makes me wonder about the war against illegal drugs that may not be bad for you.

    Alcohol can impare judgement while it lowers your blood pressure, but the use of marijuana can reduce blood pressure and help people learn.

    The same chemicals that are suspected to reduce short term memory are also involved in the process of learning new skills and abilities. What may be forgotten for the short term is also believed to be still available after the effects of the marijuana have worn off. (I can’t say the same for the damage that alcohol causes to the liver and kidneys though.)

    Besides using your judgement to eat healthy foods while craving something to eat, it would be a great study to see what the effects would be to compare a person’s results from marijuana use during workouts and compare them with someone who hasn’t been using drugs (alcohol included).

    Cheers! (and Peace!)

  5. Binge drinkers are occasional drinkers. They just don’t know how to control their thirst. IMHO there is nothing wrong with a daily cocktail or glass of vino. For a teetotaler to give advice on drinking is like the Pope talking about birth control. If you don’t playa the game you don’t maka the rules.

    • But, Davey isn’t “making the rules” here. He’s just presenting facts. I work for a police department that is particularly rigorous about their physical qualifications and I’ve heard almost all of this from the sergeant, a qualified professional, who is in charge of creating the routines. It’s legit. Don’t get an attitude just because you don’t like the news.

  6. I’m sure your sgt. is the world’s foremost authority. But there is plenty of authority out there to the contrary, as even Davey concedes. My point, which you have thoroughly missed, is that advice about drinking from someone who has never tasted a drop, comes off as preachy. And so do you, officer.

  7. what about smoking and workout?

  8. Think this is the first time I have commented here on DW fitness. I drink wine 7 days a week..up to 2 glasses a day, somedays more, but uncommon. Rarely i get intoxicated. Does drinking effect my workout? Maybe but I have no intentions of stopping drinking in moderation which I do-the health benefits greatly outweigh the effect on workouts. Men should not drink more than 2 drinks a day, women 1. Of course I don’t encourage anyone to drink but I don’t condemn it either.