Introduction: The culture in many team sports involves consumption of large amounts of alcohol after training/competition. The effect of such a practice on recovery processes underlying protein turnover in human skeletal muscle are unknown. We determined the effect of alcohol intake on rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) following strenuous exercise with carbohydrate (CHO) or protein ingestion.
Methods: In a randomized cross-over design, 8 physically active males completed three experimental trials comprising resistance exercise (8×5 reps leg extension, 80% 1 repetition maximum) followed by continuous (30 min, 63% peak power output (PPO)) and high intensity interval (10×30 s, 110% PPO) cycling. Immediately, and 4 h post-exercise, subjects consumed either 500 mL of whey protein (25 g; PRO), alcohol (1.5 g·kg body mass⁻¹), 12±2 standard drinks) co-ingested with protein (ALC-PRO), or an energy-matched quantity of carbohydrate also with alcohol (25 g maltodextrin; ALC-CHO). Subjects also consumed a CHO meal (1.5 g CHO·kg body mass⁻¹) 2 h post-exercise. Muscle biopsies were taken at rest, 2 and 8 h post-exercise.
Results: Blood alcohol concentration was elevated above baseline with ALC-CHO and ALC-PRO throughout recovery (P<0.05). Phosphorylation of mTOR(Ser2448) 2 h after exercise was higher with PRO compared to ALC-PRO and ALC-CHO (P<0.05), while p70S6K phosphorylation was higher 2 h post-exercise with ALC-PRO and PRO compared to ALC-CHO (P<0.05). Rates of MPS increased above rest for all conditions (∼29-109%, P<0.05). However, compared to PRO, there was a hierarchical reduction in MPS with ALC-PRO (24%, P<0.05) and with ALC-CHO (37%, P<0.05).
Conclusion: We provide novel data demonstrating that alcohol consumption reduces rates of MPS following a bout of concurrent exercise, even when co-ingested with protein. We conclude that alcohol ingestion suppresses the anabolic response in skeletal muscle and may therefore impair recovery and adaptation to training and/or subsequent performance.