The BEER-HIIT study seeks to answer a common question from my private M3 1-1 online clients (and one I’ve wondered about myself).

“Does alcohol affect my gainZ and body comp?”

It is a great question, so let’s dive into it using our friend S-C-I-E-N-C-E to see what we can learn.

Backstory . . .

As you know from reading my ramblings here . . . I love things that are black. From black t-shirts (or as my wife calls them “my uniform”), black coffee, dark metal music, to dark beer. Dark = Epic!

On our recent road trip to SD, MT, and then to Hood River, OR to kiteboard, I once again finished each session with a quest bar, 2 pop tarts, and a dark local beer while hanging on the grass to watch the sunset.

I was able to do that 7 out of the 8 kiteboarding days there. The one exception was when I hit the safety on my kite by accident with my brand new surfboard, could not get the kite lines back in order, had to self-rescue for 1.2 hours while “farming seaweed” behind an island to eventually get rescued by a jet ski – more on that lesson coming up.

Back to our question at hand, does drinking said local dark beer destroy all of your gainZ?

Luckily for you, my friend, we have brand new data, and I am stoked that other smart nerds asked a similar question.

The Beer-HIIT study published JISSN that worked to answer that question (1).

It was a 10-week study where 73 young adults (average age 24 years old) did a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) program 2 days per week.

The men in the study consumed 1 beer (or ethanol equivalent) at lunch and dinner while the women had one with dinner. They also had a control groups that did not consume alcohol (sad panda face here_____).

By doing the HIIT program, VO2 max got better in all the training groups. They also found improvements in handgrip strength –which will make my grip friends happy, especially the Finnish.

A massive pitfall of this study, however, was the use of lager beer which is just 7-day-old squirrel piss on a bottle. Hopefully next time they will use delicious dark beer instead.

Nonetheless, a bit of beer or alcohol will not kill all of your gainZ, so relax and have a dark one in the name of science.

Dr Mike “dark stuff” Nelson

PS – For a more detailed breakdown, including some of the pitfalls of this more recent study, Dr. Trexler did an epic article on it in the Aug issue of MASS. I also followed up this advice with a single caveat.

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1) Molina-Hidalgo, C., De-la-O, A., Dote-Montero, M. et al. Influence of daily beer or ethanol consumption on physical fitness in response to a high-intensity interval training program. The BEER-HIIT study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 17, 29 (2020).


Mike T Nelson CISSN, CSCS, MSME, PhD
Associate Professor, Carrick Institute
Owner, Extreme Human Performance, LLC
Editorial Board Member, STRONG Fitness Mag