Guzzling Your Gains – 5 Ways Alcohol Affects Muscle Growth
For many die-hard gym bunnies and the body 'beautiful', the odd drink is exactly that – an odd drink. In the world of bodybuilding and muscle growth, when it comes to alcohol, pretty much all signs point to no.
So what's the science behind it – and how do a few pints after a workout really affect your gains?
GUZZLING YOUR GAINS – 5 Ways Alcohol Affects Muscle Growth
#1 💪🏼 Alcohol decreases muscle protein synthesis, even when adequate protein has been taken (1) – this is the crucial step to repairing muscle after a workout. Alcohol ingestion also suppresses anabolic responses in muscle and may therefore impair recovery and adaptation to training.
#2 ⬇️ Studies have shown that alcohol decreases our metabolism, making it difficult to lose body fat (2).
#3 ⚖️ Excessive alcohol consumption creates an imbalance in our hormones – this has a significant impact for men resulting in the conversion of testosterone to oestrogen (3).
#4 🐷 Studies have shown that alcohol consumption can lead to uninhibited eating and an increase in calories (enter McDonald's) (4). This increase in calories may not seem significant on a daily basis – however stack up over time (enter Beer Belly Ft. Wine Belt). To top our lazy hazy eating off, alcohol itself is full to the brim with empty calories with zero nutritional value, clocking in an average of:
- 1 Pint of 5% Beer (239kcal, equivalent to a Mars Bar)
- 175ml Wine 12% (133kcal, or 3 Jaffa Cakes)
- Double Gin (No mixer) (95kcal, or a Milky Bar)
Now don't get us wrong – we love a Mars Bar, but you wouldn't catch us on a warm day necking 6 in a row and then heading home for a takeaway...
#5 😴 It really ruins our sleep, and gains love sleep
Alcohol consumption reduces our REM sleep significantly, a crucial restorative stage of our sleep. Meaning no matter how much we sleep we still wake up feeling tired and completely exhausted.
Although countless studies have been done to try and counter the fact – science speaks truth, drinking disrupts recovery.
How much disruption this causes is largely down to the amount you drink, 1 or 2 drinks is unlikely to cause any significant muscle impairment however heavier binge drinking sessions are proven to cause significant reduction in both muscle growth and recovery.
Not willing to sacrifice your booze for biceps?
Try leaving a solid 6 hours in-between a workout and any alcohol consumption to give your muscles enough time to recover. Use non-alcoholic drinks to your advantage – if you plan on only having 2 or 3 alcoholic drinks, add some non-alcoholic drinks to your arsenal and space out your normal drinks, trust us, you'll thank us for it in the morning.