Heading over to the bar to quench your thirst with beer? Or perhaps you’re craving a cocktail? If you care about your gains, don’t do it!
Like it or not, alcohol and fitness don’t mix. Booze ruins your gains, lowers your T levels, and increases body fat. Plus, it impacts your ability to focus at work and in the gym.
How Alcohol Affects Your Gains
Drinking a beer every now and then may seem harmless, but it can actually hamper your progress. You see, alcohol contains nothing but empty calories. Cocktails, liquors, and other fancy drinks are loaded with sugar that trigger insulin spikes and promote weight gain.
Each gram of alcohol has seven calories. If you add soda or fruit juice to the mix, the calories add up. Plus, alcohol consumption disrupts the Kreb’s cycle, which slows down your metabolism and affects muscle growth.
Booze impacts your gains and body composition in more than one way. First, it adds empty calories to your diet. Secondly, it decreases your metabolic rate, so you’ll burn fewer calories throughout the day. Thirdly, it stimulates appetite by messing up your ghrelin levels. Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, causes you to overeat.
Alcohol also has a direct impact on testosterone levels. In a three-week study, men who consumed up to 40 grams of alcohol daily experienced a 6.8 percent decrease in testosterone production. It may not seem much, but it’s enough to affect your gains.
Other studies have found that a single alcoholic beverage can reduce testosterone levels by as much as 23 percent for up to 16 hours after ingestion. Additionally, physical stress right before boozing affects testosterone production even more.
Alcohol and Exercise Performance
Alcohol not only makes it harder to build mass but also impacts sports performance. It does so by reducing your T levels and impairing muscle repair.
When consumed in excess, it accelerates exercise-induced muscle damage. At the same time, alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to repair damaged tissues. This affects your strength, endurance, and recovery time while increasing the risk of injury.
Have you noticed how thirsty you feel after drinking alcohol? That’s because booze dehydrates your body and muscle cells. Moreover, it reduces protein synthesis by a whopping 20 percent. Since your cells are dehydrated, it becomes harder to pack on mass.
Plus, dehydration affects your ability to absorb and break down certain nutrients, such as iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. This results in electrolyte imbalances, strength loss, fatigue, and poor recovery from training.
Testosterone isn’t the only hormone you should worry about. Alcohol also messes up your insulin and estrogen levels.
When you drink, your body releases insulin, which promotes weight gain. Since alcohol is made of grains rich in phytoestrogens, it raises estrogen in the body. This further contributes to obesity, belly fat, and muscle loss.
Sure, this doesn’t mean that drinking a few times a year will ruin your gains. Just make you keep alcohol to a minimum.
Drink one glass of water for every glass of booze to prevent dehydration. Sip on electrolyte drinks after a night out. Choose wine and spirits over cocktails and liquors. Remember that moderation is the key.