Beer, why don’t you like me?


The other day I went out for a beer and the next day my workout felt terrible. It probably didn’t help that I hardly ever drink anymore and that I decided to do some sprints after my weight training but still… I also felt like my hips gained about 5lb which is not exactly what I’m aiming for. Anyway, I’ve been reading up on my physiology lately and thought, why does my body suck at metabolizing alcohol?

To answer my question, here are some fun facts about alcohol metabolism:

  1. Our genes influence our body’s ability to metabolize ethanol (alcohol) but tolerance is also a factor. (Me = low tolerance)
  2. Females are generally worse at metabolizing it (yay…)
  3. Alcohol consumption impairs protein synthesis and can increase cortisol levels (Bianco and friends, 2014) = not great for building muscle (though some people argue that the carbs aid with recovery)
  4. When you drink alcohol, your body’s priority is to metabolize the ethanol (versus use up other sources of energy) so it can result in storing fat (Suter and friends, 1992)
  5. Alcohol is a depressant and can make you feel bummed out. No thanks!
  6. Long-term consequences of too much drinking can be really awful.  This is not from a research study but I had a patient once who work up in the hospital after a huge bender and his nerve damage was so severe that he couldn’t walk and felt like his nerves were on fire.  He was only in his 40s.  Yikes.  (There are lots of studies on side effects if you want to look them up).

Other considerations

  1. The idea of getting up in the morning to play with a toddler while being hungover sounds terrible.
  2. Morning sickness (for me) felt like being hungover – for months – possibly creating an aversion to that feeling of terribleness
  3. I have stuff to do (like that dissertation proposal, making delicious food, and running Trike Club practice)
  4. I enjoy working out. If I want to feel terrible I can go run some 400m sprints or try to do handstand pushups.
  5. I have lots of amazingly fun friends who don’t drink at all
  6. With strategic distraction, you can potentially kick butt at beer pong while sober…

Not saying I will never have a beer once in a while but I don’t think that my body likes it very much and I’m going to respect that.



Bianco, A., Thomas, E., Pomara, F., Tabacchi, G., Karsten, B., Paoli, A., & Palma, A. (2014). Alcohol consumption and hormonal alterations related to muscle hypertrophy: a review. Nutrition & Metabolism, 11(1), 26.

Suter, P. M., Schutz, Y., & Jequier, E. (1992). The effect of ethanol on fat storage in healthy subjects. New England journal of medicine, 326(15), 983-987.


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