Whether you’re new to the drinking scene, enjoy a couple after work, or tend to get a little rowdy at social events, you’ve probably wondered how detrimental your drinking habits really are on both your muscles and weight gain. Is it harmful to have a glass of wine or a beer with your friends after a busy day of work? (Trust me I’ve been there). Let’s say you’re really “good” about eating healthy during the week, does that mean indulging on the weekend is “okay?” The real question then becomes, if you’re trying to maintain or get lean, does this mean you should forego all alcohol for the next month or two? Dry January is a hit every year, but does doing something like that actually pay off?
So, what’s the answer right? By understanding what happens when you drink, you can make your own judgement calls as to whether or not alcohol should be apart of your diet. According to Onnit Academy, a comprehensive database of information related to Unconventional Training, here are things you need to know when making your decision:
1)Alcohol and Growth Hormones
Growth hormone is the substance in the body that plays a very large role when it comes to building muscle, stimulating other cell growth and development, and promoting optimal bone growth. When this hormone is low, you can’t get the amount of muscle development as you would at it’s highest level.
Growth hormone is released within your body mostly during the early sleeping hours of the night and because alcohol tends to disrupt the natural sleep cycle, it will decrease the amount of hormone you receive. This decrease can be as much as 70%, and truly cut your ability to progress.
2)Alcohol and Testosterone
Testosterone as many of you know, is a huge hormone most commonly associated with muscle growth and men because men in fact do tend to carry more muscle mass than women (since men have more testosterone in their bodies).
When alcohol is consumed, a toxic substance is released within the liver that decreases the amount of testosterone released, which results in lower muscle mass and definition.
3)Alcohol and Recovery
Since alcohol is a toxin to the body, energy that could be spent on muscle recovery is going to have to be spent on expending the liquid from the system instead.
4)Alcohol and Dehydration
Alcohol is a diuretic in the body, unless you are sure to replace the extra fluid with water (you know the 1 for 1 rule), your natural water balance will be unbalanced. Dehydration has a list of negative effects for the body that can go on forever, from inducing feelings of fatigue to causing low physical performance, making you feel more hungry, and disrupting your bodies ability to produce ATP(your primary source for muscular energy).
5)Alcohol and Glycogen Synthesis
ATP isn’t the only source for muscular work, muscle glycogen is another. The unfortunate thing is that when you drink alcohol, glycogen synthesis takes a back seat to alcohol synthesis, resulting in decreased stores in the muscle cells. This then causes your body to have less energy when you go for your next work out. Naturally if you have less energy, you’re more likely to cut your work out short and you won’t derive as many benefits in terms of increased strength.
6)Alcohol and Aerobic Ability
If you’re like a lot of women out there who aren’t necessarily looking to gain muscle but love aerobic activities, you might think all of this doesn’t pertain to you. Wrongo. Alcohol can cause an increase in blood pressure and in correlation an increase in heart rate. Since your heart rate will already be elevated during aerobic activities, the additional stress from the alcohol will amplify your heart rate making your aerobic activity feel harder than it should.
7)Alcohol and Body Fat
Booze does have calories! Hard to believe, but it’s true. These calories add up very quickly. A good way to avoid higher calorie drinks is to avoid most beers high in fat, and fancier drinks that contain multiple liquors. Although, at seven calories per gram, after three or four drinks, your drinks would equal a good size meal. My suggestion is to watch your food intake if you know you’re going to have a couple and stay hydrated throughout the day.
Overall, I think it’s pretty obvious that by not drinking you will see better results in overall energy, weight loss, and muscle gain. Try taking a month off and see what results you get. Hope these tips help!