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Q&A: How Bad Is It to Have a Drink After Your Workout?
The question:"I always see people drinking at brunch after workout classes. Does that make your workout less effective?"
The expert:Ellen Breeding, an exercise physiologist at AYC Fitness in Kansas City
The answer:It can—but only if you drink a cocktail within 30 minutes of your sweat session. Why? There are a few reasons. First, you can wreak havoc on your muscles. "Alcohol weakens the muscle-recovery process—and the majority of muscle recovery happens within 30 minutes of your workout," says Breeding. In other words, if you chug a beer right after you finish a half marathon—or go to a boozy brunch right after your workout class—you're not giving your muscles enough time to recover from what you just put them through. That not only leads to muscle damage, says Breeding, but it also weakens your muscles—which makes your workout less effective overall.
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Reason number two: You're putting yourself at risk for serious dehydration. "Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it dehydrates you," says Breeding. "That, coupled with the fact that you'realreadydehydrated from your workout, leaves you evenmoredehydrated." (Get more hydration tips to improve your workout.)
And finally, the last reason to hold off on the booze for at least half an hour is that studies have shown that drinking alcohol immediately after you exercise can increase your risk of blood clots, which can lead to serious heart trouble, says Breeding. So it's definitely best to refuel with water—andthenyou can enjoy a celebratory drink (if you want) once your body has had a chance to recover for at least half an hour.
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