I’m not here to preach the evils of drinking alcohol. I do it, you do it, and virtually everyone does it in some form as a social activity or a way to unwind after a long week. Let’s face it, its fun. You let go of your inhibitions; gain confidence you thought you’d never have; dance like you’ve never danced before and even the ugly one got lucky once in a while (yeah, it was me….).
Drinking over safe limits is one thing; we all know the dangers of short and long-term binge drinking but intake of alcohol at any level will have a negative effect on your system and a negative impact on anyone competing in bodybuilding or any other sports activity, so keep that in mind. Here we’re going to have a brief look at some of the more prominent side-effects
When we drink alcohol, the body must flush vast amounts of water through your kidneys in order to break the alcohol down. As we tend not to drink any excess water when we drink alcohol, our bodies become vastly dehydrated, which has a negative effect on the muscle building process and every aspect of our athletic performance. In fact, it was reduce muscle growth by 20% as hydrated muscles allow for a better anabolic environment.
As the liver is often still metabolising alcohol up to 48 hours after consumption, at the expense of glycogen, fatigue sets in, energy levels drop and cognitive responses deteriorate. Balance and reactions are also adversely affected, which can be very dangerous when lifting heavy weights.
Protein metabolism can be negatively impaired by around 20% which can be huge when considering the importance of muscle repair after training resulting in a lot of hard work for little return.
Lower testosterone production & increases estrogen levels
When intoxicated, testosterone levels can drop to around 25% lower then normal, and we all know the importance of those levels when you’re training. It also causes the aromatisation of androgens into estrogens, not something a male bodybuilder wants as it causes gynecomastria over longer periods of time (you know, man-boobs!).
By the way, ever wondered why blokes get so horny when they’re drunk? Basically, testosterone levels drop so low that our bodies desperately strive to increase production and put it right so it releases LH in large quantities, which is more responsible for arousal than testosterone.
Vitamin and Mineral depletion
Vitamins and Minerals are the unsung heroes where our bodies are concerned and have a huge role to play in virtually every function of our body, which is why we always recommend a multi-vitamin as part of your supplement stack. When we drink, the absorption and effect of these vitamins are negatively effected, causing all kinds of problems.
Vitamin A helps the body fight disease, Calcium strengthens bones and aids growth, Vitamin B has vital metabolic and enzymatic functions (I could go on….).
You put on weight
Its not just the amount of empty calories and sugar contained in alcohol, the disruption to your food intake often add to increased weight, which will play havoc with any reasonable bodybuilding regime. Alcohol disrupts the Kreb’s cycle, resulting in fat’s being harder and harder to break down as your body tries to deal with the poison you’ve thrown down your gullet.
The length and quality of sleep can be greatly effected by any alcohol intake and as sleep is our bodies time to rest and recover, and recharge our batteries for the day ahead, you’re often faced with another day of bad eating and very little else.
It may feel great when you’ve had a few, but like most drugs, depression soon sets in when your body is coming to terms with the after effects and your blood sugar levels drop.
As usual, I’m not dictating how you should live your lives and you alone will know how you’re treating your body. Treat your alcohol intake as part of your diet. If you hit the gym a few times a week as a social activity and to stay in basic shape, moderate levels of drinking wont effect your training at a level where you feel it better to stop drinking altogether. If you’re training to reach the top, why not cut out alcohol altogether, its negative effects far outweigh the positive.
For most of you, dedicating yourselves to bodybuilding too much often has negative impacts so don’t be afraid to enjoy yourselves once in a while or you risk growing resentful of early nights whilst your friends hit the town. Just try and be reasonable and limit your intake as much as possible, whilst doing what little you can to reduce the negative effects.
With that in mind, here are a few helpful tips if you simply insist on indulging yourselves: