How alcohol affects muscle building

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Rohit Jadhav Founder - M2PROTEINS

How Alcohol Affects Muscle Building Scaled

How alcohol affects muscle building

It often happens. You get invited to chill and have a couple of beers at a bar on weekend, but since you work out, an obvious question pops in your mind. Can you enjoy a couple of drinks? You had a protein shake couple of hours ago, what is going to happen to that? Is alcohol going to hamper your progress?

Let’s dig deep and see how alcohol can affect your muscle growth.

Side effects of drinking alcohol are well known, so we won’t discuss that here, rather we will focus only on the effects of drinking alcohol on muscle building.

1. Alcohol interferes with muscle protein synthesis :

Alcohol, when consumed after exercise decreases muscle protein synthesis or muscle-building process.

A study conducted by a group of researchers shows that when alcohol was consumed after intense exercise it decreased the muscle-building process by 37% in the absence of protein consumption. However, when protein was consumed after exercise followed by alcohol the muscle protein synthesis decreased by 24% (1).

In other words, alcohol suppressed the anabolic response of skeletal muscles.

The study also shows that alcohol consumption decreases absorption of amino acids such as EAAs and BCAAs following consumption of alcohol.

The study suggested that alcohol suppresses muscle building process that was stimulated by exercise and protein consumption.

Drinking alcohol after a workout will slow down your progress and recovery after a workout.

2. Alcohol decreases growth hormones :

Several hormones are involved in the muscle-building process. These hormones are released by various glands in our body, studies show that alcohol not only impairs the function of these glands but the target tissue as well.

Testosterone is one of the most important hormones involved in the muscle-building process. Studies show that alcohol consumption at levels above 1.5 gram/ kg of body weight decreases levels of testosterone by 23%, but alcohol did not affect testosterone levels when consumed in moderation (2) .

A study published in the journal Medicine and science in sports and exercise suggests that alcohol consumption post-exercise also affected the bioavailability of testosterone during recovery (3).

Cortisol is another hormone that has an impact on muscle building. Cortisol is usually known as a stress hormone. As the name suggests you would want its levels to stay low.

It is also a catabolic hormone, it breaks down molecules and inhibits protein synthesis.

A study demonstrated that alcohol consumption (1.75 gm/ kg of bodyweight) spiked levels of cortisol, the cortisol levels found to be 152% higher than the normal or control (4).

The levels were high after 4 hours after drinking, and the levels remained elevated until 40 hours.

Other studies also reveal a decrease in the levels of Growth hormone and Luteinizing hormone (LH) after drinking alcohol.

Alcohol interferes with the normal hormonal profile and inhibits its role in the muscle-building process.

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3. Alcohol interferes with nutrient absorption :

Any food that is consumed must be absorbed by the body to exert its benefits. Proper digestion of food involves breaking it down into smaller components to be absorbed. Various digestive enzymes are involved in the digestion of food. While the stomach and intestine are involved in the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream.

Studies show that alcohol decreases the secretion of digestive enzymes from the pancreas. Alcohol also damages the cell linings of the stomach and intestine which inhibits the transport and absorption of nutrients into the blood.

Furthermore, even if the nutrients are digested and absorbed, alcohol can prevent their full utilization in the body.

Studies show that alcohol impairs the digestion and processing of proteins into the amino acids in the stomach and small intestine. So, part of the protein shake that you had after a workout may be going to waste after a couple of drinks.

Alcoholics show decreases stores of vitamins in the liver and increases excretion of nutrients than non-alcoholics. This shows that how alcohol can affect the passage and utilization of nutrients into the body.

4. Alcohol affects metabolism :

Metabolism involves all the chemical processes that go on in the body. These chemical processes are required to keep the organs functioning normally. When you consume any food item it gets metabolized to convert them into usable substances.

But when you consume alcohol, the body prioritizes its metabolism because it cannot be stored. This rather harms your body. Since alcohol is prioritized fats and carbs get stored. Storing fat can lead to fatty liver and other diseases while storing carbs can lead to weight gain.

5. Alcohol adds extra calories :

Alcohol contains calories that have no nutritional value, although there are only a few nutrients in beer the rest are empty calories. Meaning you are adding a ton of empty calories to your body. The increased calories can lead to increasing your weight.

Not to mention that all the fried snacks that you might be consuming while drinking.

6. Alcohol can decrease fat burning :

As I mentioned before alcohol gets priority over fats, your body burns calories from alcohol first rather than burning calories from fat. This can slow down your fat-burning process, leaving you with unwanted fat. Since the fat is not burned and gets stored in the body, it can affect your weight loss journey.

7. Alcohol causes dehydration :

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you pee more than normal. It causes our body to remove fluids more quickly than normal liquids causing dehydration.

To much dehydration can cause muscles to dehydrate, making them stiff, cramped, or even loose. This excess dehydration can also affect cell functioning.

To wrap up, excessive alcohol drinking, post-workout drinking can affect your fitness goal. It hits where it matters the most. There are a few articles that suggest drinking alcohol in moderation may not be that bad, but moderation is subjective. There are no studies or anything that can suggest a minimal amount of alcohol that you can drink without affecting your bodybuilding.

So, at this point, I am going to say drinking alcohol can hamper your bodybuilding in the ways mentioned above.