Muscles and Alcohol: How Does Drinking Affect Your Gains?

It may be fun to get drunk every now and again, or to have the casual drink or two, but it's always interesting to research how muscles and alcohol play together and finding out how bad drinking really is for your results. Drinking alcohol definitely has negative effects on your muscle gains, which isn't hard to really guess even if you were from Mars, but the real question is how much of a negative affect are we talking here?

If you're serious about getting the best results and as quickly as possible you should limit your alcohol consumption as much as you humanly can, if not completely. The more serious you are towards your goals, the more this applies. 

Especially don't drink too much on a night before a workout day, or on a night after a workout day when your body is really recovering from the intense workout. And if you go out and have some drinks, try to limit it to only 1 or two drinks if you can, and no more than 3-4 if you absolutely have to go bonkers.

Also, if you're really keen on binge drinking nights, limit your sprees to only once a month or so if you really have to get down like that. A huge hangover may very well affect your strength levels over a period of a few days. Yikes, right.

Now you understand that building muscle and alcohol consumption aren't really the best of friends, let's take a look at some of the reasons WHY drinking is a no-no for serious lifters:

1. Alcohol dehydrates your body.

Your muscles are made of approximately 70% water, and water is a prime factor in your body being able to build muscle. So being dehydrated is not a good thing for those looking to gain muscle.

2. Alcohol depletes your body of vitamins and minerals.

Drinking alcohol causes a depletion of vitamins A, B, C, calcium, phosphorus and zinc in your body. These vitamins and minerals are vital to the muscle building process.

3. Alcohol increases estrogen and lowers testosterone.

Testosterone is the most important hormone in your body for muscle growth. Alcohol lowers testosterone, and to top it off, it even increases estrogen which is not a good thing for your muscle gains.

4. Alcohol slows down protein synthesis.

Protein synthesis is what building muscle is all about. Drinking alcohol can slow this process down by up to 20%. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know this is not a good thing!

5. Alcohol increases fat storage.

Alcohol contains 7 empty calories per gram, which have no value at all. This can be quite fattening. It also disrupts what's known as the "Krebs Cycle", which helps fat burning.

As you can see, alcohol has quite a few significant negative effects on your efforts to build muscle. If you do decide to go out and party, then make sure to drink plenty of water afterwards and have a protein-rich meal.

Focusing your whole life on your muscle building program isn't a healthy thing to do, as you ideally need to have a balance. So of course in the end it's totally up to you how often and how much you drink, and do what feels right for your current goals and situation.

But if you're going all-in 100% with a full training program to get maximum results in a burst of 1-3 months (for a bulk or cut phase) then make sure to avoid alcohol almost completely if you can to ensure you're at 100%.