I have heard the same story of how beer is a good recovery drink, like drinking liquid bread, as long as the rider doesn’t drink a six pack. I personally love a cold beer after a hard ride. The effects of alcohol on a cyclist has been studied, and I’m not making any new revelations. This is more like a small breakdown of what I have studied about the physiological effects.
Besides adenosine triphosphate or ATP, glycogen is the next big guy the muscular activation chain. Muscle glycogen is a form of storing carbohydrates to use as energy in a workout. Unfortunately, when the drinking of alcohol increases, the body must synthesize the alcohol and that takes the lead over synthesizing glycogen for the muscle. Ever noticed, after a higher intake of alcohol than normal, your next workout or ride hits the wall earlier than usual? Less gas (glycogen) in the tank means less miles.
Alcohol also contributes to dehydration. Unless you are balancing a glass of water per alcoholic drink, in the end you will be dehydrated. The cell in our bodies are designed to basically run efficiently. Water is a carrier, distributing essential nutrients to cells, such as vitamins, minerals, and . . . wait for it . . . glucose! At the same time, water helps remove toxins. Being hydrated helps regulate your body heat and is an effective way aid in the lubrication of joints.
Last but certainly not least in the way of cycling is connection to alcohol and body fat. Yes, I go for the Michelob Ultra for the 98 calorie bit, but if you add just five of those, it can add up to a regular meal! If you’ve ridden a bicycle for any length of time, you know the effects of weight and speed and climbing. Unless you are trimming your food intake to compensate for your alcohol intake, you will gain fatty tissue.
In the long run, two drinks is not going to destroy anyone’s personal records, but moderation is the key. Take in more water. Eat more vegetables. Of course, exercise to burn what you take in and replenish to get ready for the next ride.