Alcohol and Building Muscle: Everything You Need To Know
Is there a correlation between alcohol and building muscle? Understand how alcohol effects your body and decide whether or not to include it in your training plan.
Is there a connection between alcohol and building muscle?
As someone who has always trained hard and looked forward to the weekend Wild Turkey, I can honestly say that I have spent hours pondering this question and wondering if my Friday and Saturday nights were hurting my ability to stay lean, strong and build muscle.
The point of this post is not to convince you whether or not alcohol is good for you. There is plenty of questionably funded research on both sides of that argument you can read on the internet about that.
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However, based on the research I conducted for this article it is pretty clear that excessive and/or regular drinking may not be best thing to include in your training plan.
Here’s what you need to know about alcohol and building muscle.
Alcohol And Growth Hormones
Alcohol can negatively impact the release of growth hormone. When we workout and train hard, growth hormone is one of the key substances that triggers muscle to grow and recover bigger and stronger.
It is also responsible for promoting healthy growth of bone and other issues. Many believe that one key to longevity is keeping the production of this hormone high. When growth hormone is low, your muscles may recovery more slowly or not grow to their full potential.
Growth hormone is predominately secreted while you sleep and because most alcohol is consumed at night, it tends to disrupt the natural sleep rhythms that are required for triggering maximal release growth hormone. This decrease can be up to as much as 70%, so it can definitely hinder your muscle growing ability.
Alcohol And Testosterone
Alcohol can lower your testosterone level. Testosterone, along with growth hormone, plays a huge role in your bodies ability to maximize workout progress and muscle growth. When you consume alcohol, your liver produces a substance that hinders the bodies ability to produce optimal testosterone.
As a result, your bodies ability to optimize its muscle building capacity is diminished. This may not be as big of a deal for women since they naturally have lower free t-levels.
Further, the hops in beer are extremely estrogenic and are currently being studied as a treatment for hot flashes in menopausal women. If you want to optimize your testosterone levels, it maybe a good idea to completely avoid alcohol for this reason alone (or at least beer).
Excess estrogen is one of the primary causes of man-boobs, so avoiding anything that increases estrogen should be of high importance if your goal is to build muscle and stay lean.
Alcohol and Dehydration
Alcohol dehydrates the body. Alcohol is a diuretic and causes your body to excrete water in an attempt to eliminate the poisonous substance. Because water is essential for flushing out waste like lactic acid, it may slow recovery from intense exercise.
Dehydration can also thicken the blood, causing increase blood pressure and an increased resting heart rate.
Chronic dehydration is also a form of stress, which can increase the release of cortisol, causing a further slow-down in the bodies ability to recover from exercise and may lead to the dreaded condition of OVERTRAINING (if you believe in such a mythical beast).
This dehydrating effect may also cause feelings of hunger (beer munchies) as your bodies way of signally a need to replace the lost water. Most often instead of grabbing a glass of water, most misinterpret this instinct and run for late night Taco Bell.
The extra calories from all the chalupas and tacos may help build muscle in the short term, but long term it will most likely lead to fat accumulation and a massive beer belly (see above).
Alcohol and Body Fat
Most alcohol will make you fat. Unless you only like to drink straight whiskey, you are likely consuming a ton of empty calories in the form of sugar. Most alcohol is full of simple carbohydrates that instantly spike blood sugar.
If your blood sugar level stays high for too long, the liver will instinctively begin to turn the excess sugar to fat in an attempt to store calories for future periods of caloric insufficiency.
There is almost no way to avoid it. If you drink too much too often, you’re likely going to accumulate extra body fat.
So can you drink alcohol and build muscle?
Obviously, based on the facts stated above, alcohol and building muscle aren’t the best of friends. Though, unless you are training for a fight or some other competitive activity, a couple beers or shots on Friday or any other day ending in Y probably isn’t going to kill your gains. But lets not pretend that it is the healthiest choice.
Aside from the facts stated above, alcohol is a disinfectant and destroys your gut biome, which can have extremely negative effects on gut and mental health. I encourage you to visit the websites below if you are interested in learning more about this subject.
A few tips: drink in moderation (most of the time), drink plenty of water, and give yourself a few sober nights a week with zero alcohol so you can optimize your sleep and hormone production.
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Mikey DiCroce is the founder of Pine Pollen Superfoods. Michael’s mission is to teach people the habits necessary to achieve optimal fitness and success in every area of their lives. Visit PinePollenSuperfoods.com to learn more about their great natural hormonal enhancers and superfoods.