Some things are common sense. Like the notion of getting a good night’s sleep before an event. Not drinking after a workout would seemingly be another common sense practice. But the great thing about science is that sometimes asking seemingly silly questions can lead to unprobable answers.
Occasionally subtle truths can be uncovered in insignificant factors, like the sex of an individual for instance. This was the case with the findings of a recent study looking at the effects of post-exercise alcohol ingestion on muscle protein synthesis in men and women.
Contrary to popular practice, the researchers took a group of both males and females and subjected each to a simple acute heavy resistance exercise workout (i.e. six sets of smith machine squats). Then came the fun part. For subjects in the alcohol condition, they ingested vodka diluted in water to achieve a dose of 1.09 g of alcohol per kg of fat free body mass. For an average 75kg individual with 20% bodyfat, that would be ~65g of alcohol; approximately the same amount in 500ml of red wine.
Subjects in the control group received an artificially sweetened and alcohol-free beverage free of calories.
Then came the painful part. Each subject underwent muscle biopsies to measure the expression of important regulator proteins involved in muscle protein synthesis. One of the proteins assayed was the well known mTORC1 regulator.
The key finding to emerge was that although resistance exercise caused a similar increase in mTORC1 in both men and women, only men showed a reduction in the mTORC1 signalling pathway after ingesting alcohol. The same response was surprisingly absent in women who consumed alcohol.
So does this equate to a license to drink for any female following a session at the gym? Clearly not as there are other well known deleterious effects from repeated alcohol consumption, such as weight gain and liver damage. But it does make for some rather amusing scientific findings.
Duplanty AA, et al. Effect of acute alcohol ingestion on resistance exercise induced mTORC1 signaling in human muscle. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2016 [Published Ahead of Print].