Do Alcohol and Bodybuilding Mix ?

Alcohol or ethanol is one of the world’s oldest drink, and one which is used by almost everyone. Drinking alcohol has both positive and negative effects, which you should be aware of, especially if you are a bodybuilder.

Although it serves as source of enjoyment and relaxation for many, if you are an athlete or bodybuilder who is focusing on muscle gains, you will be surprised to know how detrimental it is to building muscle.

Some of the adverse effects of alcohol for bodybuilders are listed below:

Empty Calories

Alcohol lacks in vitamins and nutrients and simply provides empty calories. It provides 7 calories per gram, which means that just one shot of 80 proof vodka will give you 100 calories, which is a lot if you are trying to lose fat. Increased alcohol intake in the diet provides high calorie content, which is something bodybuilders do not want.

Alcohol intake also slows down the metabolism rate as it disrupts the Kreb’s cycle. When the Kreb’s cycle is not working correctly, the body is unable to break down fats. Moreover, the body has to work extra hard to digest and metabolize the alcohol, that fat burning stops all together.

Alcohol Causes Dehydration

Alcohol consumption has both short-term and long-term effects. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes excessive urination. The presence of fluid in alcohol itself results in more urine formation. Excessive urination also leads to a loss of ions, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium etc. which are required by the body cells to perform properly.

Moreover, the water lost in urine is disproportionate to the amount of ions lost in urine. When the concentration of ions in the blood increases, water is pushed out of the cells, thereby depleting the amount of water present in the cells. This causes dehydration and an overall feeling of thirst.

Water retention is important for bodybuilders, as it gives a lean and hard look. However, dehydration as a result of alcohol consumption makes it harder to build muscle cells. Increased alcohol intake by bodybuilders is known to severely hurt muscle growth as it blocks the absorption of important nutrients needed for muscle contraction, relaxation, repair and growth.

Alcohol Slows Down Protein Synthesis

Protein synthesis is the process by which nitrogen from amino acids is used by individual cells to construct proteins. Both DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid) are involved in this process. Large consumption of alcohol can significantly affect gains.

Lowered Testosterone Levels and Increased Estrogen Levels

Higher blood alcohol levels result in a lowering of testosterone levels. Studies carried out to find the relationship between the level of intoxication and testosterone levels show that testosterone levels drop to an average of 25% lower at the most intoxicated state. Alcohol also causes a quicker aromatization of androgens into estrogens.

This is why bodybuilders taking androgens should avoid alcohol intake at all costs as there is a high risk of them getting gynecomastia (man bo*bs). Therefore, bodybuilders taking androgens and drinking are putting themselves at a risk for aromatization. In other studies carried out, it is also known that alcohol intake reduced the levels of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) by up to 42%.

Moreover, when there is a decrease in testosterone levels as a result of alcohol consumption in bodybuilders, they often feel really aroused. This is because the body tries to bring back the testosterone levels by releasing the Luteinizing hormone (LH) in very large quantities.

Reduced Energy Levels and Strength Performance

If you have had alcohol to drink in the last 1-2 days of a workout, you will experience reduced energy levels and a negative impact on strength performance. Alcohol affects the metabolism of other substances in the body, including fats and carbohydrates. This reduced performance levels and energy levels also have a negative impact on cardiovascular function. The limited carbohydrate metabolism also limits the muscle glycogen levels, resulting in fatigue.

So if you are a serious bodybuilder, you do not want to get involved in alcohol consumption as it has many adverse effects on not just muscle gain, but other body functions as well. Not only should you avoid consuming alcohol directly before or after a workout, but you should avoid consuming alcohol altogether. This is because taking a few drinks the night before can also cause a negative impact on your workout routine.

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