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6 Reasons Why Alcohol Destroys Muscle Growth!


Posted by Scott_Herman - September 1st, 2017

Today we’re going to be talking about the 6 Reasons Why Alcohol Destroys Muscle Growth.  Now I know this isn’t something you want to hear, especially during the summer, holidays or weekends, but if you’re spending quality time counting your macros each day to reach your goals you need to know how alcohol can affect your ability to reach them as well.  

But just to be clear guys, I’m not here to ruin your fun or your night life and say that you can never have a drink with friends or to relax.  I just want to help you make better decisions so instead of getting WASTED when you go out, you try to be a bit more conservative while still having a good time.

Reason #1: Excessive Alcohol Consumption Lowers Your Testosterone

When I was in college I used to get a lot hate from people at parties because I didn’t drink much or sometimes at all.  But it had nothing to do with health reasons, I just didn’t care for it.  But when dudes would tell me to “be a man and drink more” I had the best response and I would say.

“ACTUALLY, drinking lowers your testosterone levels so technically each sip is making YOU less of a man than me.”

So as you can see… I always made lots of friends at bars and parties…

But seriously guys, we all know how important testosterone is for building muscle and the lower your testosterone, the tougher it’s going to be for you to gain muscle. I already have an article regarding testosterone and how to increase it naturally so I won’t get into that now. But if you want to check it out you can read more about it HERE later.

So, in a nutshell, the more alcohol you drink the larger the drop in your testosterone levels will be.  Having 1 drink will have little to no effect on your testosterone levels, but consuming as many as 3 or more CAN start to have a massive impact on your ability to grow muscle because of the drop sudden drop. Believe it or not, 3 drinks can lead to a 25% drop in your normal testosterone levels and that’s one quarter of your ability to build muscle out the window!  Now, I know what you are going to ask. Is beer the same as whiskey? Of course not! Every alcoholic beverage is different and your body’s reaction to it also depends on your sex and your bodyweight.

Beer, for example, often contains two chemicals that can increase estrogen (and therefore decrease testosterone): phytoestrogen and prolactin. These chemicals are found in hops and in barley which are two very common ingredients in many beers. Wine also contains phytoestrogen and even some liquors, like bourbon, contain these chemicals as well.  So if these chemicals can increase your natural levels of estrogen, it should be clear as to why drinking too much can lower your testosterone.

But women actually have the opposite problem.Excessive alcohol consumption often leads to increased testosterone levels, sometimes even resulting in the loss of female sexual characteristics. Starting to get the picture guys? Too much alcohol plays havoc with your body’s ability to produce hormones correctly, no matter your sex. But what about alcohol use in moderation? Does alcohol lower testosterone if used sparingly? Well, now for the good news. Moderate alcohol consumption is ok 99% of the time. In a study on moderate alcohol use, researchers found that drinking the equivalent of 2 - 3 beers a day resulted in very slight testosterone decreases for men and no changes for women.

However, for many people 2 - 3 beers a day wouldn’t be considered “moderate.” Instead, 2 - 3 beers a week might be more realistic. But if you’re only drinking a few beers or glasses of wine a week, for example just drinking on the weekends, you’ll have very little to worry about. Your testosterone might not drop, but you are still consuming empty calories.Even 2 - 3 drinks a day seems to be acceptable.  It’s the binge drinking, like 5 or more drinks in a short period of time, that’s the real problem.

So, does alcohol lower testosterone? Well the answer is yes, but if you control your use you don’t have anything to worry about.

However, while this drop won’t last forever it will almost certainly have a negative effect on any training you did around the day of your drinking. For example, if you drink excessively on the weekends, like Friday and Saturday, that would make any workouts you did on Friday, Saturday and even Sunday pretty much useless. Now I know some of you are going to say:

“I just won’t train on those days”

Well, even if you’re not working out your body will still struggle to recover optimally and build as much muscle as possible during those rest days due to the lack of testosterone.

Reason #2: Alcohol Inhibits Recovery

Imagine this guys… You smash chest and triceps on a Friday to finish the week off strong and then you go out that night and drink until you wake up at 3pm Saturday with a massive hangover. If this sounds like something you would do, or have done in the past, then you should also know that this kind of behavior won’t do anything for your gains.

This is because there is a number of different ways that your recovery can suffer after you’ve been drinking. Sure, you might end up sleeping more but it may not be the kind of sleep you actually need.  I don’t know if you know this, but in order to maximize your recovery you need to go through all three stages of Non-Rapid Eye Movement sleep, also known as NON-REM.  Without getting too detailed, this is because it is during the third stage of NON-REM sleep is when you enter SWS (slow wave sleep) which is the time your body maximizes its natural production of HGH to help you repair your muscles to get bigger, stronger and faster.

Also, excessive sleep can actually make you feel more tired, which leads to you having less energy to do anything once you wake up and contrary to popular belief, doing absolutely nothing isn’t the best way to recover. Performing some mild activity, such as active recovery is more beneficial for your muscles when they’re trying to recuperate.

Excessive alcohol consumption will also lead to a decrease in protein synthesis. Now we all know how important protein synthesis is for muscle growth, and if you don’t have protein synthesis firing on all cylinders, then it’s going to inevitably slow down your muscle growth potential. This is because reduced protein synthesis is due to the alcohol you drink causing a drop in your testosterone, like we already discussed, as well as making you dehydrated, which we’ll talk about next.

Reason #3: Alcohol Makes You Dehydrated

Increased alcohol consumption will lead to dehydration, and dehydration will hinder your ability to train as hard as you can.Remember that our muscles are about 75% water which is why if you don’t drink enough water you often feel small or “flat”.  This is also why that if you do drink a lot of water before your workout you’ll more than likely notice an increase in your pump levels and feel huge. But the dehydration factor of alcohol goes far beyond just looking fuller for your workouts.

Having or not having enough water in your system can be the difference between being anabolic or catabolic. Obviously we want to be in an anabolic state to gain muscle and too much alcohol can put a stop to that. It’s also important to know that alcohol is a diuretic. When you drink, as many of you already know, your urination frequency increases. So, it should go without saying that the more you go to the bathroom, the more water you’re losing and the major issue here is that if you’re drinking all night long and constantly hitting the bathroom you’ll end up with electrolyte imbalances.

Now while this might not seem like a big deal, it’s important to understand that electrolytes are needed for optimum performance.  That is why drinks like Gatorade are so popular in sports like soccer, basketball and football.  Athletes either sip on an electrolyte drink during breaks in a game, or drink a bottle after their games. This is because an electrolyte imbalance means your muscles won’t be performing at an optimal level, and the same story goes for in the gym. You need a proper balance of electrolytes for optimal muscle contractions, to get the most muscle breakdown possible for regrowth and a big night of drinking is going to make that very difficult to achieve.

Reason #4: Alcohol Lacks Nutrients, & Prevents You From Properly Absorbing Vitamins & Minerals

We all know that having your macros and calories in order is important for growth, but what often goes unnoticed is how important having your micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals, in order is.  So the first problem you’ll run into with too much alcohol is that it doesn’t contain any micronutrients and at about 7 calories per gram of alcohol you won’t contribute any nutritional value to your calories for the day.  In fact, alcohol can actually stop you from absorbing nutrients from other foods. Guys, you have to understand that you NEED your micronutrients to help with the absorption of your macronutrients, and there’s no point in making an effort to get them in if you’re just going to waste that effort by preventing their absorption by drinking too much alcohol.

For example, some of the more important nutrients which your body may miss out on from too much alcohol consumption includes vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Vitamin A helps with cell growth, vitamin C helps with tissue repair, and vitamin D has a pretty big link to keeping your testosterone levels healthy and where they should be. So, as you can see, each of these vitamins play a significant role in muscle repair and growth and missing out on being able to properly absorb them because your alcohol intake is too high isn’t a great idea.

Reason #5: Alcohol Prevents Fat Burning

Muscle building aside guys, alcohol will prevent your body from burning fat for energy. Now this might seem to relate more to people who are trying to get lean, but the fact that you won’t be able to burn fat while looking to build muscle is still going to affect the quality and amount of muscle you can gain.

If you’re trying to build muscle, even is using methods for lean gains, chances are you’ve been gaining a bit of fat as well.Remember that losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time ONLY applies to newbies in the gym.  The majority of you should still be trying to keep your fat levels under control and too much alcohol could mean that instead of being able to burn off some of the fat you’re gaining while bulking you’ll actually be storing it and therefore gaining even MORE fat than expected while you bulk.  In addition to this, if your testosterone levels are dropping your bulk won’t be all the great anyways.

Remember that not only will having more fat make it more difficult to tell how much muscle you’re actually building, but more bodyfat will also increase your estrogen levels, making it even harder to gain muscle.  It’s like a dirty bomb guys.  A mixture of low testosterone levels and higher estrogen levels is that exact kind of mixture you want to avoid when trying to reach your goals

Now if you haven’t already noticed, all of the reasons we just discussed are linked in one way or another. It all goes hand-in-hand, and that means if you drink enough alcohol to the point that you experience one of these problems for muscle growth, chances are that you’ll experience another one as well, if not all of them.

So you have to ask yourself,

“If I’m serious about gaining muscle and reaching my goals, should I be going out with the intention of getting hammered a few times a week?”

Well, if you really are serious, and you take into consideration all the negative effects alcohol will have on your muscle building endeavors, I’m quite sure you’ll reconsider your choices.

The last thing I want to say, however, is that all of this DOES NOT mean you can’t have a social life, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t drink alcohol at all. Sometimes you’ll want to celebrate something special with a drink or two, or maybe you’ll have a couple of drinks with your friends when you go out on the weekends.  As long as it’s all in moderation, that’s fine. The real issues occur when binge drinking becomes a habit, or when alcohol is a daily tool that you use to “relax”.

#6 Excessive Drinking Can Contribute To Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is no joke guys and nothing will be able to prepare you for the life changing situation you’ll find yourself in if this disease happens to you.  Remember that alcoholic beverages, especially beer, wine, and bourbon, contain congeners and congeners are substances that have estrogen-like properties that can play a role in the development of cancer.  These estrogen-like traits in your drink can contribute to the development of prostate cancer by damaging genetic information in your cells and causing inflammation, two classic factors involved in the birth of cancer, even if you’re not drinking excessively.  

But it doesn’t end there. For men, ethanol alcohol is a testicular toxin, and we’ve known for decades that in large doses it reduces testosterone function, sperm count, fertility, and can even damage the testes. In fact, alcoholic men often suffer from infertility and abnormally low testosterone.  

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day guys, for most people, alcohol is going to be a part of life at some point. It’s up to you to control the way you deal with it and to make sure that it’s not going to stop you from building some solid muscle, and making those lean gains!

I hope you found this article helpful and if you have any more questions be sure to leave them below or start a new thread in the forums!  See ya!

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