The effects of Alcohol & Bodybuilding and fitness. A point of interest for not only bodybuilders but every person that is aiming to achieve a better physique, increased performance, or improve their overall health. Three of the most common areas of concern within the subject of alcohol and bodybuilding/ fitness are fat loss, muscle building and performance.
As we all know, many individuals on their fitness journey aim to lose fat, whether it be for aesthetic or health reasons. When taking alcohol into consideration while trying to lose fat there are two points to be aware of:
- Alcohol contains calories – Most people are aware of that many alcoholic drinks and mixers contain a high number of calories from carbohydrates, but it is important to know that the alcohol itself contains calories, approximately 7 calories per ml (the same as a gram of fat). As a result of this drinking zero sugar mixers and straight alcohol still contains calories and therefore should be moderated when trying to lose fat.
- Alcohol stops other nutrients being metabolized – In the body, alcohol is metabolized similar to poison, meaning it becomes priority to be removed from the body. As a result of this there is a drastic reduction in the metabolism of all other nutrients. Why is this important? Because while alcohol is in the system, the body shuttles all carbs and fats into storage (body fat). So, this means all snacks and meals during and after drinking will turn to fat much more effectively than they normally would. This in combination with the reduced will power to stick to a diet as a result of being intoxicated can result in a substantial amount of fat gain.
From these two points it can be concluded that alcohol can increase body fat by increasing the storage of carbs and fat from meals and snacks, along with additional calories being consumed through mixers and the alcohol itself, and finally alcohol reducing the will power to keep on track with a diet.
Building muscle is another common goal among many individuals, for aesthetic, functional, or rehabilitative purposes. The following points should be kept in mind when attempting to build muscle and consuming alcohol.
- Alcohol lowers testosterone in men – It has been shown through testing bloodwork of drunk men that testosterone lowers by 45% in comparison to sober men. As testosterone is a highly anabolic hormone that greatly contributes to muscle gain, is wanted to be at its highest possible level when attempting to build muscle. Therefore, this negative affect of alcohol can lower an individual’s muscle building capability.
- Alcohol lowers Muscle Protein Synthesis – Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) is a term used for the bodies capability to synthesise or build proteins. Muscle in the body is made from proteins and therefore the higher MPS the more capability the body has to build muscle mass. When alcohol is consumed (especially in large quantities) it reduces MPS, and as a result reduces recovery and growth of muscle tissue which is obviously not optimal when trying to build muscle.
As these two points suggest, alcohol is not an excellent substance to be consuming when trying to build muscle due to its negative effects on testosterone and Muscle Protein Synthesis in men. For women on the other hand, these effects are not present in any studies and therefore are not a problem for females when trying to build muscle. The effects of alcohol & bodybuilding
Most people who have drank alcohol and trained the following days have more than likely experienced the effect it has on performance. The severity of this is of course dependent on the individual and the amount they drank. The three main contributing factors from drinking alcohol that affect performance are dehydration, hangover and interrupted sleep.
Of course, the occasional drinking session won’t completely ruin your performance for more than one or a few days but combined with the lowered testosterone and muscle protein synthesis, if drinking becomes persistent it will definitely hold back your potential especially in males.
How to implement alcohol into a fitness lifestyle: The effects of alcohol & bodybuilding
- Moderation – As with all things balance is key. Reducing the amount you drink alcohol to even to just once a week opposed to twice can make a huge difference to overall progress. If you can reduce the amount even more then that will of course give you better results. Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink when having a day or night out can also better your results as the less amount in your system the quicker your body will return to normal function, and less calories will have been consumed.
- Drink Low Calorie Options – Consuming alcoholic drinks with lower calorie content such as light beer or spirits with sugar free/zero calorie mixers will reduce the total amount of calories being consumed and therefore result in less fat gain.
- Avoid Calorie Dense Foods When Drinking – Due to alcohol having to be metabolized first and the bodies regular digestion being put on hold, food being digested when alcohol is in the system will be shuttled to storage and become fat mass. For this reason, calorie dense foods high in carbs and fat are best to be avoided before, during and after drinking. The best food options when drinking can be anything low calorie and/or protein dense such as vegetables, lean meats or protein powder.
- Don’t Train Your Hardest Sessions Before or After Drinking – As mentioned in muscle building and performance, you will miss out on optimal growth when training before and after drinking due to lowered testosterone and muscle protein synthesis along with reduced performance in the days following. This means it is more effective to train harder sessions when you won’t be drinking, to optimise performance, recovery and growth.
in summary, although alcohol is not the best substance to consume when attempting to make progress within a fitness lifestyle, it can certainly still be implemented in smart ways to reduce the impact it will have on your results. While still enjoying a balanced lifestyle. Using the methods mentioned above, we hope you can now take a well-rounded approach to drinking while still working hard in the gym and dieting and making continue making results! The effects of alcohol & bodybuilding