Do you know if alcohol is hurting your ability to build muscle? Well, you could certainly be fitter if you didn’t drink alcohol at all, but if that is not something you are willing to do, keep scrolling to read more about it.
Previously, we covered the topic of alcohol and fat loss and posed the question if someone could lose weight while drinking alcohol. See the link below.
However, what if your goal is not to lose weight, but rather the other side of the spectrum in the fitness world? What if you want to build muscle?
Building muscle requires being in a caloric surplus, meaning you consume more calories than your body expends. This surplus provides the necessary energy and nutrients to support muscle protein synthesis and repair, allowing muscles to grow and adapt to resistance training. Without a surplus, the body lacks the resources needed to efficiently build new muscle tissue, hindering the effectiveness of strength training programs. Therefore, maintaining a proper caloric intake, coupled is essential for optimising muscle growth and achieving desired gains in strength and size.
Does that mean that drinking alcohol, something like a beer (that has a lot of calories), can help you build muscle? Not really.
Alcohol does not help hypertrophy. But could you still build muscle while drinking alcohol? That is what Dr Mike Israetel talked about it recently in one of his videos.
Dr Mike Israetel, PhD in Sport Physiology and co-founder of Renaissance Periodization, is a well-respected professor in the bodybuilding community. He doesn’t only talk about workouts and fitness tips, he often dives deep into health and nutrition.
See more info below.
Is Alcohol Hurting your Muscle Building?
When training to get fitter, achieving optimal muscle mass and strength gains is a top priority for many individuals. However, the role of alcohol consumption in hindering these goals is often overlooked. Below, we will go deeper into the ways in which alcohol affects your ability and likelihood of success in getting stronger and more muscular.
Despite its popularity as a social lubricant, alcohol presents at least four significant problems for those aiming to build muscle and strength, as Israetel puts it:
- Interference with Recovery: High rates of alcohol consumption increase systemic fatigue, hindering the recovery process. Instead of the expected progress in performance, consistent alcohol intake can lead to diminished PRs and suboptimal gains.
- Sleep Interference: Alcohol negatively impacts sleep quantity and quality, essential for muscle growth and recovery. Consuming alcohol, especially late at night, can disrupt your sleep pattern, affecting the quality of your training sessions the next day.
- Training Quality Reduction: Consuming substantial amounts of alcohol before a significant workout can reduce the quality of the training session, leading to subpar results and hindering progress in the long run.
- Decreased Muscle Protein Synthesis: Through various mechanisms, alcohol contributes to a decrease in muscle protein synthesis, actively working against your efforts to build a more substantial and stronger physique.
While alcohol may seem incompatible with fitness goals, there are ways to enjoy a drink without severely impacting your muscle and strength gains. Here are eight tips from Israetel to consider:
- Opt for Straight Liquors: Choose straight liquors over calorie-heavy beer. Drinks like vodka with diet mixers can minimize the impact on overall calorie intake.
- Drink on a Slightly Empty Stomach: Consuming alcohol on a slightly empty stomach allows you to feel the effects with fewer calories, contributing to a more controlled drinking experience.
- Limit the Number of Drinks: Know your limits and aim to achieve the desired level of intoxication without going overboard. More alcohol doesn’t necessarily translate to more fun, especially considering its negative impact on your physique.
- Moderate Physical Activity: While alcohol can make you feel uninhibited, excessive dancing and physical activity can lead to increased fatigue and hinder recovery. Opt for a more relaxed drinking environment to minimize physical exertion.
- Eat Plenty After Drinking: Counteract the catabolic effects of alcohol by consuming a substantial meal afterward. This not only aids recovery but also prevents muscle loss associated with alcohol consumption.
- Stop Drinking Two Hours Before Sleep: Give your body time to metabolize alcohol before heading to bed. This allows for a higher quality of sleep, crucial for recovery and overall well-being.
- Choose the Right Time to Drink: If you have to incorporate drinking into your routine, consider doing so on the last day of your training week, ideally before a rest day. This allows for adequate recovery time without compromising your training.
- Drink Sparingly: Finally, and perhaps most importantly, drink alcohol sparingly. Reserve the wild nights with friends for special occasions, aiming for quality over quantity. Consider alternative social activities like enjoying marijuana, which has fewer negative effects on fitness goals.
So, if your goal is to build muscle and strength, it’s crucial to acknowledge the impact of alcohol on your fitness journey. While enjoying a drink is a personal choice, implementing these guidelines can help minimize the negative effects and contribute to a more balanced approach to health and fitness. Remember, moderation and thoughtful choices are key to achieving your fitness goals while still enjoying social activities.
Watch the video below for more information.
What are the Health Benefits of Alcohol?
While moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with some potential health benefits, it’s important to note that these benefits are often outweighed by the negative health effects of alcohol. Moreover, the American Heart Association does not recommend that people start drinking alcohol to gain any potential health benefits, as the risks of alcohol use can outweigh any potential benefits.
That being said, some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption may have certain health benefits, particularly when it comes to heart health. Some potential health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption include:
- Reduced risk of heart disease: Some studies have found that moderate alcohol consumption may help reduce the risk of heart disease by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol, or HDL, and reducing inflammation in the body.
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes: Moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, although the mechanism behind this is not well understood.
- Lower risk of dementia: Some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with a lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s important to note that these potential health benefits are only seen with moderate alcohol consumption, which is typically defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
Heavy or binge drinking can have significant negative health consequences, and any potential benefits of alcohol consumption should be weighed against these risks.
Read More: Is Diet Soda Bad For You?