The Impact of Alcohol on Muscle Growth: Finding the Right Balance
If you know me, you know I like nightlife and go out somewhat frequently. I’ve always strived to maintain a balance and understand the consequences of these nights. When it comes to achieving optimal muscle growth, nutrition and lifestyle choices play a crucial role. While exercise and a well-balanced diet are commonly recognized factors, the impact of alcohol consumption on muscle growth is often overlooked. In this blog post, we will discuss the effects of alcohol on muscle growth and explore how many drinks are acceptable for individuals striving to build and maintain muscle mass.
First, we must understand the effects of alcohol on muscle growth. Alcohol consumption hinders muscle growth by interfering with protein synthesis, depleting nutrients, impairing recovery and even lowering testosterone production. You’ll hear about protein synthesis throughout the fitness industry. This refers to your body’s ability to repair and build muscle tissue after exercise. As we know, sufficient nutrients play a huge role in aiding your body to achieve protein synthesis. Alcoholic beverages are often high in calories but low in essential nutrients. Excessive alcohol intake can and will displace nutrient rich foods, leading to a deficiency in vitamins and minerals that are necessary for muscle growth and ultimately your overall health. This beautiful demon, interrupts your quality of sleep, which is crucial for muscle recovery. Poor sleep is a leading blocker in providing your body the ability to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Without good sleep, you might as well give up on working out (not really, it's a joke.). Also, hormones like testosterone can be disrupted by overconsuming alcohol. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and who wants to hinder their performance in the bedroom? Not me… I don’t know about your lady, but mine will be giving me a standing ovation. This healthline article (How Alcohol Affects Testosterone) explains there are three glands needed for production of testosterone in men: the hypothalamus, anterior pituitary gland, and testes. Of course, alcohol interferes with these three glands. So this leads me to an important question: How can we find the right balance? Most of us want to enjoy a night out.
Well, let’s say this, you must find the right balance. As we know, excessive alcohol consumption is detrimental to muscle growth, but moderate drinking may not have such pronounced effects. We are all affected by alcohol differently, as my friends call me a “light weight” and I call others “crazy muh fuckers”. We have various genetics, body compositions, and lifestyles that play a role in the impact alcohol has on our muscle growth. I suggest we all limit alcohol intake when working towards our fitness journey, so I’ve come up with a few guidelines to help find the right balance.
Timing and Frequency:
I advise you to separate alcohol consumption from your workout sessions to assist your body in recovering. If you workout during the week, then don’t drink during the week. Allow an adequate time gap between consuming alcohol and your workouts.
Hydration is Key:
I’m sure we know consuming alcohol leads to dehydration. Shit, I’ve had mornings where I piss brown. Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water alongside consuming alcohol to limit the dehydrating effects. You’ll thank me later…
Drink Clear Not Dark:
Clear liquors - like gin and vodka, for instance - have fewer congeners, which is the poison that leads to us experiencing hangovers. How the hell are you supposed to get a good workout while hungover?
In the end, limit your alcohol intake and save it for the weekends. It is generally recommended to stay within one to two drinks per day. This averages to a max 14 drinks per week, so I suggest you use these for your nights out.
In conclusion, I’m writing this blog to assist you in doing your own research. We all know I’m smart, but not scientist smart. Obviously we are all human and do our best to balance a life of experience and discipline. I’m not always the best at sticking to the script, so give yourself grace when it comes to finding your balance. I thrive on nights out and have been able to grow muscle while enjoying my social life. Ideally, I would stay at home everyday to maximize my muscle growth, but life is never that simple, instead we should aim to create a balance. So far my philosophy, drink on the weekends, has worked. What’s your balance? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s much better than mine.