Where Strength and Size are the only goals

The Effects Of Alcohol On Building Muscle

After the Christmas/New Year binge, I thought this might be an eye opener!3797775113_9493454735-468x292

Most of us associate the effects of alcohol on the body with the heart, lungs, liver, brain, memory, etc. And when asked about the effects to our training goals, most people will refer to the beer belly.

Drinking a lot of alcohol will cause you to store too many calories as fat. Some people go for low calorie drinks or diet mixers (i.e diet coke) and feel that by making this choice the only bad effects of the alcohol (increased fat storage) will be minimized. The fact is, only about 5% of the calories from alcohol are stored as fat! The effects of alcohol on the body are far more damaging than the number of empty calories in some alcoholic drink.

1: Alcohol really affects the amount of fat your body can and will burn for energy.

In a study done by the American Journal of Clinical Research, It was concluded that just a mere 24g of alcohol consumption showed whole-body lipid oxidation (the rate at which your body burns fat) decreased by as much as 73%!
When alcohol goes through the liver, the by-product is called Acetate. Acetate puts the brakes on fat burning in a massive way. Your body can use many types of fuel. Protein, carbohydrates and fat. In many cases, the fuel used is dictated by its availability, your body will use whatever is available so as your acetate levels increase, your body burns more acetate as fuel. What this means is fat burning takes a back seat. Basically a) You have a few drinks. b) Your liver metabolizes that into acetate. c) Your body uses the acetate for fat as fuel.

2: It leads to an increase in your appetite.

In another American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, there was evidence to suggest that consumption of alcohol leads to an increase in appetite over that of any other carbohydrate type drink. Researchers over in the Research Department of Human Nutrition and Center for Advanced Food Studies in Denmark concluded that consumption of alcoholic beverages, and wine in particular, may enhance total energy intake at a meal relative to a soft drink, when served with no restriction.

3: It decreases testosterone and increases cortisol levels.

A study of 8 healthy male volunteers observed that after drinking alcohol, the effects of a significant decrease in testosterone and an increase in cortisol (a muscle destroying hormone) lasted up to 24 hours. So if you are serious about building muscle and burning fat, you want all the free testosterone levels you can get and you want to reduce cortisol in any way you can. That means go easy on the booze as it does affect your hormone levels. Worse still the effects are worse if you exercise before drinking – So don’t drink on training days! Not shocking is a study done by the Department of Radiology, Sahlgrenska Hospital, Goteborg, Sweden that determined increased waist to hip ratio of alcoholics may include not only changes in adipose tissue, but also in muscle tissue distribution – Fatter around the middle and less muscle, not ideal!


 4: It decreases vitamin and mineral absorption.

When you consume large quantities of alcohol, your liver is working overtime converting the alcohol to acetate and any vitamins and minerals that it might process are taken up by the detoxification process. Alcohol interferes with the metabolism of most vitamins, and with the absorption of many nutrients. Alcohol stimulates both urinary calcium and magnesium excretion. This just means that you’ll get less of a benefit from the “healthy” meal you may be consuming. Food in the stomach will compete with ethanol for absorption into the blood stream. It is well known that alcohol competes and influences the processing of nutrients in the body.

5: It decreases protein synthesis of type II fibers.

This means the actual building of muscle is slowed down by 20%+ or more. This included a 35% decrease in muscle insulin-like growth factor-I (GF-I).

6: It increases dehydration.

A common side effect of alcohol is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic. Drinks containing 4% alcohol tend to delay the recovery process. Considering how important water is to muscle building and general health, it’s clear that dehydration can put a real damper on your progress. After alcohol consumption the first thing you might want to do is drink coffee. But that’s a diuretic as well. How to avoid dehydration? Drink more water!

7: It reduces sleep

Alcohol consumption, especially at the times when you would normally sleep, can have effects on the quality of sleep. Clearly high quality sleep is extremely important to the rebuilding and growth process of muscle. Without proper rest and recovery, your gains will be affected. Alcohol consumption can also induce sleep disorders by disrupting the sequence and duration of sleep states and by altering total sleep time as well as the time required to fall asleep.

8: You won’t make PR’s with a hangover!

Obvious really, but if you plan on drinking on a Friday night in excess then the squat session you normally do on Saturday morning will take a hit. It takes a bit to recover, your body to detoxify and for you mentally to be prepared to workout. Not to mention you need energy for the workout ahead. Sure you can hit the weights but , it’s not going to be a great session.

For more evidence in the November 2004 issue of the International Journal of Obesity a study on the effects of moderate consumption of white wine on weight loss was done. Each group consumed 1500 calories. 150 calories came from white wine in one group and 150 calories from grape juice in another. The conclusion: An energy-restricted diet is effective in overweight and obese subjects used to drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. A diet with 10% of energy derived from white wine is as effective as an isocaloric diet with 10% of energy derived from grape juice. It’s simple: Moderation is the key!

So basically the effects of alcohol on your body when it comes to building muscle and burning fat are quite clear. It is a lot more than just some extra calories stored as fat. If you drink too much, it can upset your goals for a lot longer after your head has hit the pillow and you’ve gone to sleep.

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