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Most people are aware that consuming alcohol isn’t the best option nutritionally, however, I’m often asked by my clients if there is a way to make it healthier such as mixing booze with whey protein.
So can you mix whey protein with alcohol? No, mixing whey protein with alcohol reduces the muscle-building benefits protein provides. Instead, it’s best to drink a protein shake using casein protein 1.5-2 hours before consuming alcohol. This has the added benefit of also slowing down how quickly you feel the effects of the alcohol.
It’s also important to note that when we talk about mixing whey protein with alcohol, there are two possible questions we could be asking.
The first is whether whey protein can be mixed into an alcoholic drink and the second is whether you can consume a protein shake close to when you are also consuming alcohol.
In this article, I will answer both, and also discuss:
- Pros and cons of mixing whey protein with alcohol
- The impact alcohol has on protein absorption
- When and when NOT to mix protein and alcohol
- The best type of protein to mix with alcohol
Benefits of Mixing Whey Protein with Alcohol
The one benefit of mixing whey protein with alcohol is:
You Won’t Feel the Effect of the Alcohol As Quickly
Protein slows down your digestion process so by consuming a protein shake before or with alcohol, you will decrease the rate of alcohol absorption keeping you from feeling the effect of the alcohol as quickly.
If you’ve ever had a drink on an empty stomach you’ll be familiar with how quickly the effect of the alcohol can be felt. Without any food in your stomach, your body very rapidly absorbs the alcohol and you will feel the effects sooner.
If you can consume protein before or with your alcohol, this will help slow down your digestive system and the alcohol will be absorbed in a slower rate. While protein shakes do fit this need, it’s best to also add some fat and fibre to this meal. A great way to do this is to add avocado to your protein smoothie.
Curious to know what else you can mix with whey protein? Check out my article: What Can You Mix With Whey Protein (13 Examples)
Drawbacks of Mixing Whey Protein with Alcohol
The drawback of mixing whey protein with alcohol is:
It Interferes With Your Body’s Ability To Use Protein for Muscle Growth
Consuming alcohol will limit your body’s ability to digest and break down protein to be used for muscle growth.
One of the key bodily functions that protein assists with is muscle repair and recovery. However, to do so, your body has to break down protein into amino acids which are then transported to your muscles. Consuming alcohol interferes with this process meaning the protein you are consuming with your alcohol is not resulting in the same benefits.
You may be wondering what this practically means? Well, first off, drinking protein with your alcohol or shortly after consuming alcohol is not recommended as you won’t be getting all the benefits you are looking for.
Instead, it’s best to focus on consuming the majority of your protein before consuming alcohol so that your body can use that protein optimally to repair your muscles.
Does Alcohol Impact Protein Absorption?
Yes, alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to break down protein into amino acids, making it difficult to absorb and reducing the muscle-building benefits protein provides.
Research shows that alcohol interferes with nutrient absorption and utilization by altering your body’s ability to break down, transport, metabolize and store these nutrients. This includes micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, as well as macronutrients like protein.
What does this mean? Well, when we are considering protein, one of the biggest benefits protein provides is helping repair and grow our muscles. Alcohol interferes with this process so any protein we consume with alcohol, or shortly after consuming alcohol, will not provide the same benefits.
Key Takeaway: While it doesn’t completely cancel out the benefits of protein, it does reduce them, so it’s best to focus on consuming protein 1.5 – 2 hours before drinking alcohol. This gives your body sufficient time to absorb the protein consumed without alcohol interference.
Should You Leave A Gap Between Drinking Alcohol & Whey Protein
Yes, leaving a gap of at least two hours after drinking alcohol before whey protein is beneficial to help your body better digest and absorb the protein consumed.
The negative impact that alcohol has on protein absorption is not an on-off switch, rather it’s a sliding scale that is reduced as the alcohol is leaving your system. This means the length of a gap you can leave after drinking alcohol, before consuming whey protein, the better your body will be able to absorb the protein.
If you’ve only had 1-2 drinks, waiting 2 hours should be sufficient. However, if you’ve had quite a few drinks in the evening, it’s best to wait until the next morning to have a protein shake. This means that the whey protein shake you may consume after coming home from the bars is likely not the best idea, save it until the next morning for the best results.
When Is It Okay To Mix Whey Protein With Alcohol?
Consuming protein along with alcohol is not very effective when it comes to muscle-building benefits, but it does help you to feel better when drinking alcohol by slowing down the rate you’ll feel the alcohol.
Therefore, if you are already consuming a high protein diet, and just looking for a way to feel better when you drink alcohol (i.e. not feeling so drunk), having whey protein with your alcohol is a great option.
When Is It Not Okay To Mix Whey Protein With Alcohol?
Mixing whey protein with alcohol is not recommended when you have very high protein needs as the alcohol will interfere too significantly with your protein absorption.
Consuming alcohol and protein together will reduce the amount of protein that your body can effectively absorb and use. For someone that has a high protein need, this interference will be too much.
What is a high protein need you may be wondering? Well, there are generally two scenarios. The first is someone that is looking to put on a lot of muscle mass, in a controlled period. Think of a powerlifter preparing for a competition or a bodybuilder in a bulking cycle. The second is someone in a significant calorie deficit, think of a bodybuilder about to get on stage.
In both these cases, proper protein absorption is critical to achieving the muscle-building goals that are desired, and therefore it’s best to keep protein consumption away from alcohol consumption.
Will Protein Powder Dissolve in Alcohol?
Yes, protein powder will dissolve in alcohol but given the amount of liquid needed, it’s best to utilize 8oz of a mixed alcoholic drink.
While protein powder will dissolve in alcohol, it takes 8oz of liquid to dissolve a scoop of protein powder. Therefore, it’s best to use an 8oz mixed drink per 1 scoop of protein. Juice based drinks mixed with vodka, such as a screwdriver, work best along with vanilla protein powder.
Best Types of Protein To Mix With Alcohol
Casein protein powder, such as Bodybuilding Signature Casein and Legion+ Casein, is best to mix with alcohol as it’s slower digesting than whey which will help slow down the rate at which you’ll feel the effects of alcohol.
Since casein protein is slow digesting, you’ll also likely find you feel more full and satisfied throughout the evening. This can help reduce those junk food cravings at the end of the night saving you tons of calories that would otherwise negatively impact your body composition.
Tips For Mixing Whey Protein With Alcohol
3 tips for mixing whey protein with alcohol are:
- Drink your whey protein before your alcoholic drink
- Mix your whey protein with water
- Add some electrolytes into your protein shake
1. Drink Your Whey Protein Before Your Alcoholic Drink
Drinking your whey protein just before your alcoholic drink will help to slow the effect of alcohol.
Alcohol absorption is impacted significantly by what else you’ve eaten. Having a protein-rich food in your stomach, such as whey protein, while drinking will help to slow down the absorption of alcohol and therefore how quickly you feel its effects.
2. Mix Your Whey Protein With Water
Mixing your protein shake with water will help keep you hydrated and reduce any hangover symptoms you experience the next day.
One of the biggest causes of the dreaded hangover is dehydration. If you can consume plenty of water while drinking, this can help reduce those symptoms. Mixing your whey protein with water is a great way to get extra water and help keep you hydrated.
Normally, 8oz of water per scoop of protein is used but try to increase that to 12-16oz to keep you even more hydrated.
3. Add Some Electrolytes Into Your Protein Shake
Adding electrolytes into your protein shake, like gatorade, will help keep your salt and potassium levels high, which are depleted while drinking resulting in hangover symptoms.
Consuming alcohol will also deplete your sodium and potassium levels which cause some of the hangover symptoms you experience. Adding electrolytes into your protein shake will replenish these nutrients helping to reduce these symptoms.
Since protein powder is usually flavoured, I recommend going with a flavourless electrolyte. It will mix in with no change in the taste or texture but will help you feel much better the next day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Drink Beer After Drinking a Protein Shake?
Yes, you can, however, it’s best to wait 1.5 – 2 hours before starting to consume beer. This will give your body enough time to digest and absorb the protein, giving you all the benefits protein provides, before consuming alcohol which will interfere with this process.
Can You Drink Wine After Having a Protein Shake?
Yes, you can, however, it’s best to wait 1.5 – 2 hours before drinking your wine. This will give your body enough time to digest and absorb the protein, giving you all the benefits protein provides, before consuming alcohol which will interfere with this process.
Can You Mix Protein Powder With Vodka?
Yes, you can mix protein powder with vodka, it will help slow down the rate at which you feel the effects of alcohol. However, your body won’t fully absorb the protein it’s consuming. Therefore, for most optimal results, consume additional protein before drinking alcohol to help offset this reduction.
If I Drink Whey Protein in the Morning, Can I Drink Alcohol in the Evening?
Yes, consuming whey protein more than 2 hours before drinking will not impact your body’s ability to utilize the protein. When drinking in the evening, consuming all your daily protein before beginning drinking is recommended so your body can best utilize the protein without alcohol interfering.
Other Resources For Mixing Whey Protein
About The Author
Laura Semotiuk is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She works with athletes and active individuals looking to improve performance and develop healthy nutritional habits and behaviors. She has a passion for cooking, meal prepping, and creating simple and healthy recipes.