The whole truth about alcohol and bodybuilding
In this article we will focus on the effect of alcohol on bodybuilding. For some, alcohol is as cultural as drinking wine or beer; But this consumption can also be ceremonial and that is why more and more young people are drinking to get drunk. Fortunately, the effects of alcohol on muscle gain are directly related to the dose consumed. In fact, one drink won't have much of an impact on muscle loss, but heavy drinking can harm your health and goals.
What are the effects of alcohol on bodybuilding?
Alcohol and weight gain
It's no secret that alcohol makes you gain weight. It's simple, 1 gram of ethanol (7 calories) is almost as active as 1 gram of fat (9 calories). Thus, your calorie intake can increase rapidly if you drink alcoholic cocktails or doses of alcohol which can explode your calorie balance! But beware, when it comes to alcohol, these are empty, useless calories and won't help you gain muscle. Pay attention to the calories in glasses of alcohol. So the calories will not be used for energy purposes but are stored as fat in the adipose tissue.
Additionally, alcohol increases the difficulty of fat oxidation, increases blood triglyceride levels, and promotes a positive lipid balance. In the long run, alcohol consumption increases the size of adipocytes and the rate of fat mass, especially at the level of belly fat, which makes it very difficult to get the famous six pack.
Alcohol dries up
Contrary to what one might think, alcohol dehydrates the body. In fact, you may have already experienced the irresistible urge to drink a large amount of water the day after the day she was a little drunk. Alcohol inhibits ADH (antidiuretic hormone), preventing water reabsorption at the level of the renal tubules. Hence, the water is not absorbed hence it is advised to drink water from time to time between your glasses of alcohol in the evening to avoid dehydration.
Alcohol prevents muscle recovery
This is an important point that should not be overlooked for people who are looking to increase or maintain their muscle mass during dry spells. In fact, alcohol consumption, even if moderate, slows muscle recovery after exercise. Alcohol can affect the levels of myostatin that are increased in the muscles in the presence of alcohol and can reduce muscle gain by preventing the formation of new fibers. The adverse effects of alcohol on human physiology have been well documented, negatively affecting neurological function, metabolism, cardiovascular physiology, thermoregulation, and skeletal myopathy (1).
Alcohol lowers testosterone
Despite what many in the bodybuilding and fitness industry believe, alcohol does not have any significant negative effects on training. However, you may have heard that drinking alcohol lowers testosterone. Even if this is true, it is exaggerated. A 3-week study showed that by consuming between 30 and 40 grams of alcohol per day, testosterone decreased by 6.8% in men but no decrease in women. This means that 3 doses of beer per day for 3 weeks results in a 6.8% drop in testosterone in men. So if you casually drink a glass of wine with a meal or 2-3 beers a week, you probably don't stand a chance of lowering your testosterone levels.
Alcohol lowers morale
Alcohol plays a depressing role in the brain that can lower your spirits. Although alcohol makes you happy at the time, it can also make you sad and discouraged. Alcohol disrupts sleep cycles and thus hormone production and can affect mood in the days after drinking. Thus, you may have less desire to train in the coming days or even stick to your diet, for example.
Should you drink alcohol while doing bodybuilding?
As we have seen, alcohol is not really recommended if you are a bodybuilder because it can reduce your strength, recovery, motivation, and make you gain fat. But it will all depend greatly on the amount of alcohol you consume. Unless you are a professional bodybuilder or preparing for a competition, it is not forbidden to drink from time to time during a festive occasion, but it is best to consume in moderation! So, for example, you can limit yourself to two glasses to fully enjoy it without affecting your goals.