In Training With a Hangover, Bill Starr says:

The first thing I taught them when they stumbled into the weight room with giant hangovers was that the alcohol was nothing more than expensive carbohydrates. Which means it can be used as fuel for physical activities. I also advanced the rather foreign notion that just because they feel terrible that doesn’t mean that they can’t get in a solid workout. Their muscular and skeletal systems and all their organs are still going to operate exactly the same. All they needed to do was override the splitting headaches and upset stomachs and they could still get stronger.

I interpret this to mean that the only barriers to successfully completing a prescribed strength training workout during a hangover are headache and nausea and that force production is unaffected.

Specifically, he claims "their muscular [...] systems [...] are still going to operate exactly the same".

Is this true?

  • You might want to ask this question on physical fitness site as they already discussed some alcohol related questions
    – Rabbit
    May 26 '13 at 10:51
  • @Rabbit However, one of their answers depended on this source, and I am skeptical of it's validity.
    – user5582
    May 26 '13 at 16:46
  • A having good workout is not the same as being at your physical peak. The claim is simply that having a hangover it self does not prohibit getting in a good workout. And that a good workout is better than no workout.
    – Chad
    May 29 '13 at 20:26
  • The claim is that the muscular system operates exactly the same.
    – user5582
    May 29 '13 at 21:06
  • 2
    Why is this question downvoted? It has a source. It has a claim (Alcohol consumption has no effect on muscles' ability to perform). It can be researched, there is likely already research on the subject, a good study could quite easily identify any specific effects that alcohol consumption has on muscles... in short it seems like a perfectly good question. The best answer would also relate the data back to the context of a workout, i.e would the effects on the muscle be sufficient to reduce the effectiveness of a workout?
    – Ian
    May 30 '13 at 9:52

According to this scientific review [1] I found a list of changes provoked by a hangover. [...] Significant changes in the blood concentrations of acetaldehyde, glucose, lactate, ketone bodies and free fatty acids were found during hangover [...]

Looking toward the effect of each of these elements on the muscular system we know that acetaldehyde causes abnormal muscle development as it binds to proteins [2]. Moreover, glucose , lactate and ketone are all known to have effects on sustained exercises [3]. I suggest to read more about each of these elements to understand exactly how it work on Wikipedia.

So the short answer is no, the muscular system does not exactly work the same.

[1] Ylikahri, R. H., & Huttunen, M. O. (1977). Metabolic and endocrine pathology during hangover. In Alcohol Intoxication and Withdrawal—IIIb (pp. 423-442). Springer US.

[2] Nicholas S. Aberle, II, Larry Burd, Bonnie H. Zhao and Jun Ren (2004). "Acetaldehyde-induced cardiac contractile dysfunction may be alleviated by vitamin B1 but not by vitamins B6 or B12". Alcohol & Alcoholism 39 (5): 450–454.

[3] McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., & Katch, V. L. (2010). Exercise physiology: Energy, nutrition, and human performance. Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health.

  • I would have liked to be more specific about the effects, but I did not found scientific papers confirming what I read on internet. I know they exist, but you need some level of expertise to understand those paper (which I lack).
    – Zonata
    Jun 5 '13 at 16:33
  • I think what this answer is lacking is a direct line from hangover to effects on muscle. What you've shown is two parts of this: hangover -> effects on blood concentrations of certain compounds, and how those compounds affect muscle and exercise. But, that is a synthesis of two separate sources of info. It would be better to have a single source that demonstrated 1->2->3, rather than one that shows 1->2, and a separate one that shows 2->3.
    – user5582
    Jun 5 '13 at 17:05
  • Yes, but I did not find one. I am myself not completely satisfy with the answer. I found forum and place were the link was directly made... but scientific papers were much more abstract.
    – Zonata
    Jun 5 '13 at 17:43
  • Well, thanks for the answer anyway. You get the bounty :) But i won't "accept" the answer so that maybe I'll get a more complete answer.
    – user5582
    Jun 5 '13 at 17:46
  • Yeah, I myself will try to complete it. It is in my favorite.
    – Zonata
    Jun 5 '13 at 17:48

You must log in to answer this question.