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    How does alcohol affect building muscle?


    Whether you're a student, businessman, crane driver or rock star, many of us love helping ourselves to a few drinks every now and then. The fact is, a drinking culture is engrained into our society, it has become second nature to bring a few drinks to the party or have a few beers while watching the footy on the weekend.

    If your one of the billions who enjoy the odd beverage, I've written this post for you!

    What affect can alcohol have? 

    Alcohol to you and me is any drink containing 'ethanol', commonly found in the form of beer, wine or spirits.

    We all know that alcohol can cause slurred speech, clumsiness and slow reaction times but does the consumption of alcohol have a direct impact on building muscle or is all the bad just washed away after a good sleep and feed the following morning?

    Sorry to say it but alcohol has a very negative impact on some of the most important processes for changing the way your body looks.

    Let's start with the big bad basics...

    The catabolic affect

    As I have mentioned many times over the last few months, one of the keys to getting lightning fast results is maintaining your body in an 'anabolic' state for as long as possible each and every day. This means your body is in 'tissue/muscle building' mode during times of rest and recovery. Alcohol on the other hand is completely opposite, it has a 'catabolic' affect on your body which instigates the process of 'tissue/muscle burning' once it enters the body and while it is filtered out.

    Fat, fat and a little more fat 

    You might have heard that drinking beer makes you fat, well sorry old pal, it's not necessarily the beer that's the main problem. Raw alcohol (ethanol) has 7 calories of energy per 1g of liquid, this means that for 1 beer, 1 glass of wine or 1 shot of liquor you're getting approximately 12g of pure alcohol.

    I'm no saint believe me, but I myself and lots of others have been known to enjoy a night with 20+ drinks under their belt. 

    20 beers = 240g of alcohol = 1680 calories of energy!

    Now that's just the alcohol, add another few thousand for the carbs in the beer, your mixer when drinking spirits, the kebab you smashed down while stumbling round to find a taxi and your fun night out just turned into a fat filled nightmare!

    So as you can see, alcohol equals lots of extra energy, but the most worrying thing is that alcohol isn't like other beneficial nutrients, it's most similar to FAT and can actually transforms proteins (amino acids) into fat cells, storing them as just that.

    Pissin' like a racehorse!

    That's right, alcohol is a 'diuretic' which means it actually increases your rate of urination. What does this mean? Well for starters, every time you use the toilet valuable vitamins and minerals are being flushed away too, which ultimately need to be replaced. Increased urination on a night out, means increased chances of dehydration due to an imbalance in water entering the body compared to the amount going out. 

    Once dehydration kicks in its impacts can last several days (hangover).

    Dehydration = less BLOOD to a muscle during a workout = less OXYGEN and NUTRIENTS in that muscle = drastically reduced physical performance.

    Banged up immune system

    You might not think this is very serious but alcohol's affect on almost every major organ causes our body's natural immunities to practically switch off an take a holiday! This will increase your susceptibility to infections caused by viral and bacterial pathogens, meaning if someone is sick around you (consider the many public places people drink) you have a much greater chance of getting really sick too.

    I hate being sick, it's one of those things I dread when I wake up with a sore throat in the morning. How many days of training will I miss? How will I maintain my eating plan? 

    Catching some form of common virus is often pretty hard to stop, but where is the sense in increasing those chances regularly by drinking a little too much, a little too often.

    *Average alcohol consumption per person per year, by country. How do you rate? 


    The impact on your muscle building hormones...

    When you look at a bodybuilder or athlete that 'claims' to be completely natural and you think to yourself that there is NO WAY KNOWN that they got that way without performance enhancing drugs, it is most often due to the athletes success at manipulating their natural supply of anabolic hormones with a correct approach to their diet, training and recovery.  

    > Insulin
    > Growth Hormone
    > Testosterone
    > IGF-1

    The above 4 hormones are absolutely instrumental in building muscle mass and maintaining low levels of body fat. The consumption of alcohol has been proven to REDUCE the production and release of testosterone and growth hormone immediately once absorbed, lasting several days later. 

    Alcohol increases the production of cortisol

    For those in the know, cortisol is one of those hormones we want to stay away from! 

    Cortisol has the opposite effect of the above 4 hormones and is the primary 'catabolic' hormone in our body. It's main roles include;

    > Reduces GH and testosterone output
    > Stops protein synthesis in its tracks
    > Halts tissue growth

    With alcohol's ability to increase cortisol levels by upwards of 150% in 4 hours, not much more needs to be said.

    So what can YOU do?

    In order of effectiveness, here is some tips I recommend for you;

    1) Limit or stop of your alcohol consumption during intense periods of training.

    Be serious with yourself, you wouldn't be in this position if you didn't want quality results, those results come from making a commitment to a routine for an extended period of time. Ideally, staying completely off the drink for an 8-12 week period during your program would be most beneficial, but if that's simple not possible and that is totally understandable, try your best to limit your consumption to as little as possible. 

    2) Don't go crazy!

    It's often not the alcohol itself that causes the problems, but the amount we drink. In fact beer and red wine in small doses can be very beneficial to your health with its high levels of antioxidants to protect and watch over our cells.

    3) Drink the clear stuff at the same time 

    No I'm not talking about vodka! Try and drink a full glass of water with every 3 glasses of beer, wine or spirits. That's not too much to ask is it? Also, before putting your head down for the night, drink at least 500ml (16 fl oz) of water and keep some next to you for when you wake up.

    4) Eat before a drinking session and not straight after

    This is important as eating before drinking can help alcohol's absorption and control its effects. Eating after, not only increases the amount of calories in your body which need to be processed but puts excess pressure on your metabolism causing a much larger amount of food to be converted into fat stores rather than glycogen (energy) or amino acids (protein).

    5) Drinking is not an excuse to miss a workout

    Just because you woke up in someone else's bed with your eyebrows shaved off, doesn't mean your muscle building goals should fly out the window! Alcohol is known to depress your nervous system, which reduces the connection quality between your brain and your muscle. Trust me, your explosiveness and overall strength will be pretty ordinary a day or two after a heavy night, so save a multi station circuit training session for days like this. This will raise your heart rate and allow you to maintain it there for 20-30 minutes, helping to flush the body of its toxins and return it to near peak physical condition. 

    ( 80 Votes )

    Here are a couple questions for you! (answer in comment box below)

    1) How often do you drink alcohol, what do you drink and how much?
    2) Have you tried training with a hangover, how did you perform?


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    46 Comments

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    • Guest (adam lake)

      i smoke weed instead :D

    • Guest (Hugo)

      1-No I don\'t drink , I\'m STRAIGHT EDGE.

      2-No

    • Guest (josh)

      Great page about alchol and he series of affects. I really need to cut down on the booze, i knew it would have an bad affect on trainnig but however no that intensly.

      Thanks for the info dude....

    • Guest (Kostis)

      1)I kinda enjoy drinking, but i decreased it dramatically. About once per 2-3 weeks or so, and only red/white wine.

      2) No

    • Guest

      Drink about once a month or so depending on if there is a party going on if not I dont drink.
      As for the hang over i have tried a work out with a hang over i usually did a cardio work out and drank a ton of water to get rid of it all and the next day felt fantastic.

    • Guest (Pete)

      I was amazed to hear so many people say they drink 12, 18, 20 beers on a Friday night. That\'s some serious drinking, I\'d be concerned about liver damage. You\'d be better of drinking a 4-6 beers 3 times a week.

    • Guest (Jacob)

      Okay mate, my 18th is coming up real soon, and naturally i\'m going to get on it, was wondering what is a good pre meal before heading out? something rich in protein??
      Thanks in advance

    • Guest (Reuben Bajada)

      [quote=Jacob]Okay mate, my 18th is coming up real soon, and naturally i\'m going to get on it, was wondering what is a good pre meal before heading out? something rich in protein??
      Thanks in advance [/quote]

      Hi Jacob,

      Food isn\'t the issue mate, it\'s ensuring your liver can still correctly function while you are drinking and the day or two after you drink.

      Water is key to clearing out waste products and making sure you stay hydrated.

      Drink 1 glass of water for ever 3 glasses of alcohol throughout the night and into the next day and you should be right.

      Happy birthday by the way!

      Reuben.

    • Guest (JJ)

      lol is any of you actually a bodybuilder or at least serious about bodybuilding? Curious????

    • Guest (Ultan)

      1.Yes

      2. Yes, too many times. Having a night out makes me want to train harder. Struggled to complete normal routines.

      Obviously smoking weed is not something you want to do really for those that are asking. I could go on for days about the damaging health issues smoking causes. I find it hard to believe that smoking has not impacted a cardio workout from someone mentioned above. Aerobic capacity is limited by smoking.

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