Should you quit drinking totally, when you are trying to pack on muscles? Or, you have the luxury to enjoy your drink? MuscleBlaze investigates the facts for the fellow muscle aspirants.
Eating clean is easier for many muscle building folks. It’s keeping drink off the limits that’s difficult, especially on weekends and parties, when booze flows and hair is let down. Does alcohol affect muscle growth? Know the facts to make an informed decision.
Anabolism is a two-way process, for which you need to build muscle, as well as burn fat. Additionally, you need to manage calories as well as hormones and alcohol affects all of these, thereby hampering your muscle building goals.
1. Alcohol suppresses fat burning
Though alcohol is not directly related to fat gain, it suppresses fat burning. A gram of alcohol gives you seven empty calories. When you drink alcohol, it reaches bloodstream and your body accords top priority to remove it. Ethanol or alcohol when metabolized is converted into acetate and acetyl-CoA which signals the body not to burn any fat or sugar.
2. Alcohol increases your calorie intake
Appetizers, high calorie snacks go with drinks. Moreover, alcohol tends to lower your restrictions with reference to food intake. Hence, you tend to eat more when drinking than when you’re sober. A study examining how alcohol affects caloric intake found that subjects who drank wine with their lunch consumed an additional 200 calories and did not compensate for those calories by cutting back at dinner. Additionally, extra calories from alcohol count.
- 12 ounces (355ml) of beer = ~150 calories
- 5 ounces (147ml) of wine = ~100 calories
- 1.5-ounces (45ml) of distilled spirits = ~100 calorie
Alcohol increases level of dopamine in your blood. The hormone dopamine is linked to desire and reward and raises adrenaline and lowers melatonin. Lower levels of melatonin interfere with sleep, which in turn can increase hunger and cravings. Consequently, your food intake goes up.
3. Alcohol disrupts protein synthesis
When you train with heavy weights, your muscles experience stress, as a result there are small micro tears in the muscle fiber. Protein synthesis repairs those micro tears and allows your muscles to grow stronger and bulkier. Drinking alcohol hinders the process of protein synthesis, reported a study in American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, in 1999.
4. Alcohol and your testosterone levels
Testosterone, the essential male hormone, allows muscles to grow and repair. Alcohol’s impact on testosterone is that it triggers multiple chemical processes in your bloodstream that diminishes the amount of testosterone you have. A 2009 study published in Bone found that frequent drinkers had significantly low testosterone levels, as well as high estrogen levels. This is important because estrogen lowers the amount of testosterone in the body.
Does this imply you can’t build muscles and enjoy your drink too?
Well, you can enjoy your drink and grow bigger and stronger too. The essential steps are:
- Eat a protein rich meal to feed your muscle fibers, before you head out for drinks. Since alcohol is a diuretic, you should have water in-between drinks to stay hydrated.
- Do not drink on the day you train. A research published in 2001 in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that meals consumed within 24-48 hours post resistance training were critical for muscle growth. Naturally, this excludes drinking alcohol on the days you are training.
- Excess alcohol can interefere with your muscle growth. These count as a drink:
- 12 ounces (355 ml) of beer
- 5 ounces (147 ml) of wine
- 1.5 ounce (45 ml) of distilled spirits
In moderation, a glass of wine will help you unwind after a tiring day and lower your stress levels, decrease insulin resistance and increase HDL cholesterol. Most importantly, do not drink on the day you train and avoid drinking if possible.