It’s no mystery that drinking is bad for you athletically and that it slows your ability to build muscle. But the real question is: “How bad is it for you?”.
Every alcoholic beverage is different, and your body’s reaction to it also depends on your sex and your body weight. Too much alcohol plays havoc with your body’s ability to produce hormones correctly, no matter what your sex is. However, moderate alcohol consumption is okay 90% of the time.
Since alcohol is a diuretic, the more you drink, the more you urinate, the more you are dehydrated. In worse case scenarios, excessive drinking can lead to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Pair this with increased levels of a toxin known as acetaldehyde from drinking; you are ripe with the recipe for a hangover.
Acetaldehyde is also classified as a group 1 carcinogen, the same group as tobacco, asbestos and processed meat. With dehydration and an illness, you will feel increases in fatigue, sluggishness, confusion, and your chances of going to the practice are near to a zero.
You Lose Your Gains
Your gains are affected even if you do not exercise. The study shows that low alcohol consumption, about 40 grams or so, or 1 drink, does not affect the muscle growth promoting hormone testosterone.
However, that starts changing when you continue to drink more, 10-16 hours after consuming three drinks, shown to reduce testosterone levels in your body by 23%. This drop does not come back to normal levels until 36 hours later. That is a whole one, and a half day you are spending with subpar muscle protein synthesis.
The studies also show that the worse your hangovers feel, the lower your testosterone drops. If you are a male, 3+ drinks can lead to a 25% drop in your normal testosterone levels. That is 1/4 of your ability to build muscle, out the window.
Alcohol has been connected to decreasing leucine oxidation, which is also important to building muscle. Moderate amount of alcohol has shown also to inhibit the hormone Leptin, which is responsible for making you feel full.
It will also affect how your body uses energy. Typically, your body uses glucose and fat as energy through the glycolytic and oxidative pathway. But once you introduce alcohol, your body quickly shifts its focus from glucose and fat to break down alcohol for energy instead.
Alcohol itself contains roughly seven calories per a gram, which your body breaks down into acetaldehyde, then into acetic acid and then finally into a usable energy source known as acetyl CoA.
While this process takes place, your body will not be utilizing any other energy sources in your body, which means all the calories you consume while intoxicated will be converted into stored fat. Any chances of burning fat for the duration is not going to happen.
Difficulties With Absorbing Nutrients
Alcohol stops you from absorbing nutrients from other foods. You need your micronutrients to help with the absorption of your macronutrients. There is no point in making an effort to get them in if that effort is wasted by preventing their absorption – drinking too much alcohol.
Some of the essential nutrients which your body may miss out on from too much alcohol consumption are vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Vitamin A helps with cell growth, vitamin C helps a tissue repair, and vitamin D has a pretty big link to keeping a testosterone level healthy and where they should be.
Each of these vitamins plays a significant role in muscle repair and growth. Missing out on being able to properly absorb them because of your alcohol intake is too high. This is not that great of an idea.
Lowers Quality Of Sleep
Most of all, alcohol lowers your quality of sleep. After a night of drinking studies show that when you go to bed, you do in fact fall to sleep quicker and into a deeper sleep. But it is quickly disrupted and REM sleep, the deepest of all sleep stages, is overall reduced. When you are asleep much of the mechanisms for muscle synthesis and recovery take place. Disrupt that, and you disrupt your muscle growth.
So, if you have a goal that you are desperately trying to reach. Alcohol consumption is perhaps one of your worse enemies. But if you do choose to drink, drink moderately and choose healthier, low-calorie beverages.