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How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Natural Muscle Growth

Muscular man on a boat in the sun drinking a beer

The Truth! How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Muscle Growth

We can all be partial to a alcoholic beverage, but what is its affect when it comes to working out and building muscle! From protein synthesis, natural testosterone and human growth hormone levels, alcohol has an affect on them all.

A pint of beer or a large glass of wine at the end of the day can be part of some peoples daily routine, but does alcohol really deserve the bad reputation it has when it comes to its affect on muscle growth and fat loss?

The internet and the general fitness industry is flooded with over exaggerated opinions that all alcohol is bad, with theories stating that even moderate alcohol consumption on a regular basis, can play havoc with your bodies natural hormones, encourage fat storage and reduce recovery and performance in the gym!

To point out the bleeding obvious! We all know that drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis has been linked with numerous health risks. After all theres a reason that it has some experts ranking alcohol as the most dangerous drug in the world!

Yet the majority of us still look forward all week to a nice cold beer or glass of wine on a Friday night!

Instead of boring you with what you already know…

This article will be examining specifically the affects of alcohol consumption in relative terms of working out and the natural building of muscle.

So lets get into it….

Will Drinking Alcohol Reduce Or Hinder Natural Muscle Growth?

This is a very interesting question which has caused some serious debate amongst the fitness industy!

The truth is in terms of increasing or promoting muscle growth from drinking alcohol, you will be hard pressed to find any tangible evidence for its positive attributes. So to answer the question “will drinking alcohol reduce or hinder natural muscle growth?” Yes it most likely will.

Therefore I thought it best to examine just how detrimental alcohol can be to muscle growth and what are the most effective methods to mitigate any of these negative effects, whilst still enjoying a beer or two!

Sound good?

Negative Affects Of Alcohol On Natural Muscle Growth

Alcohol Reduces Protein Synthesis

Alcohol is a diuretic! This is why after a couple of beers you will find that you will be needing to pop to the toilet far more frequently then usual (broken the seal).

This onset dehydration caused from alcohols diuretic attributes not only contributes to a sore head and a hangover the morning after. But alcohol also plays detriment to the maintenance and repair of muscle cells. If you have read my article on the affects drinking water and hydration has on muscle growth, then you will already be aware that to effectively optimise muscle growth, you must remain sufficiently hydrated!

After all… protein synthesis only occurs when muscle cells are sufficiently hydrated!

Therefore when dehydrated this lack of fluid in the muscle can actual increase the rate of protein and muscle breakdown!

One study in particular which looked at the effects of alcohol on skeletal muscle cells found that protein synthesis was reduced 15-20% 24 hours after consumption!

So next time you are out for a few drinks with friends, make sure between every alcoholic beverage you consume a good sized glass of water and then again just before you go to bed. Although this wont completely irradiate the diuretic affects of alcohol, it will certainly help in keeping your body better hydrated as well as softening your hangover the morning after.

 

Alcohol Lowers Natural Testosterone Levels

The reduction of natural testosterone levels as a by product of alcohol consumption is certainly one of the negative affects which is probably the most publicised and when looking at some of the scientific evidence you can begin to see why!

There have been a number of studies (listed in references) that all conclude that the consumption of alcohol lowers natural testosterone levels. But how much is too much and are there any instances in which alcohol can provide benefit to your natural hormonal health?

 

So how does drinking alcohol affect natural testosterone levels?

When you consume alcohol messages are sent to the brain to release beta-opioid endorphins. These endorphins are the reason you may often feel more relaxed after a couple of glasses of wine or pints of beer. Unfortunately these endorphins are famous for their negative effect on testosterone synthesis as described in this study.

If you have ever found yourself with your head half way down the toilet after a night of excessive drinking you wont take much convincing when I tell you that alcohol is toxic to the body!

An example which showcases the extent of this toxicity on natural testosterone was showcased in a study by the Melaka Manipal Medical College in Manipal. The study looked at the affects on fertility health and testosterone production in alcohol abusing males, they found that the duration of the subjects alcohol indulgence had a direct correlation to the levels of oxidative damage in subjects testicular cells.

This type of testicular cell damage can lead to reduction of testosterone production inside the ball sack and impairment of testosterone molecules already in circulation.

In addition to this high alcohol consumption has also been shown to boost the activity of the aromatase enzyme. This is the enzyme which is responsible for converting the male sex hormone (testosterone) into the female sex hormone (estrogen), resulting in a increase in estrogen levels (not good for muscle growth!).

 

Alcohol And Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Another fundamental issue when it comes to alcohol and its affect on natural muscle growth is the way in which it impacts the bodies natural release of human growth hormone. Human Growth hormone, which if you are an avid reader of Train-Natural is something which I have discussed frequently. Human growth hormone or HGH has a large responsibility within the body for a variety of processes relating to building muscle, promoting cell growth and development as well as stimulating bone growth. Therefore if your natural levels of human growth hormone are not optimised you wont be gaining/growing as much muscle as you potentially could be!

Human growth hormone is largely secreted during sleep. As alcohol is fairly notorious when it comes to disrupting natural sleeping cycles, the amount of growth hormone released during sleep is reduced. This reduction in some cases has been found to be up to as much as 70% therefore creating quite an impact to your muscles recovery and growth from resistance training. This is commonly why you may find if you have had an intense training session then gone out drinking afterwards your muscles will often ache and feel fatigued far more then usual.

 

Round Up!

So lets have a round up and break down what we now know about alcohol consumption and its negative affects on natural muscle growth.

  1. Consumption of alcohol can result in oxidative damage to testicular cells and testosterone molecules already present in the body.
  2. Drinking alcohol prompts the brain to release specific endorphins which cause you to feel relaxed but have a detrimental effect on testosterone synthesis.
  3. Alcohols diuretic properties increase the likelihood of dehydration which in turn has shown to negatively impact protein synthesis by up to 20%
  4. Excessive levels of alcohol consumption (alcoholic), can increase testosterone to estrogen conversion due to a increase in the activity of the aromatase enzyme.
  5. Alcohol causes disruption to normal sleeping cycles which in turn impacts natural secretion of human growth hormone causing sub standard recovery and muscle growth

If you want to find out more about testosterone levels and how to boost them via natural methods check out our list of The 13 Best Foods To Naturally Increase Testosterone

How To Minimise Negative Affects On Muscle Growth From Drinking Alcohol

  1. Ensure you still hit your macro requirements both the day before and the day after drinking alcohol. Even if the calories consumed from alcohol push you over your daily calorie/macro requirement. As we have learnt already alcohol plays a big part in negatively impacting are recovery and growth so it is vital to keep your body supplied with good quality fuel especially when partaking in intense work out regime.
  2. Make sure you catch up on sleep! Even if you know you may only get 5-6 hours sleep the night you are out drinking make sure you go to bed earlier the following night to make up for it. Poor recovery due to lost sleep wont only affect your natural anabolic (muscle building) hormones but if carried on into the week, your performance in the gym is also likely to have a knock on affect.
  3. Stay Hydrated! You may be called out for being “boring” but ensuring you manage to drink a good sized glass of water in between alcoholic drinks and before you go to sleep will help to minimise the diuretic affects of alcohol. Keeping you better hydrated and reduce the likelihood of a significant drop off in protein synthesis.
  4. Personal Tip! Take a multivitamin and eat a banana before you go to bed. Bananas are packed with potassium which as a mineral lost via intermittent urination (common side affect from drinking alcohol). Bananas along with the multivitamin will help provide your body with a substantial hit of vitamin B6, which one study from the journal of Annals of nutrition found can reduce symptoms of a hangover by up to 50%

Conclusion

So after reviewing some of the major concerns regarding muscle growth relative to consuming alcohol, I think we can all agree it is something to most certainly keep tabs on if you are looking to optimise your natural muscle gains in the gym!

A couple of drinks every now and again is unlikely to really cause you much of a problem especially if managed and controlled correctly. But if you’re an alcoholic, and drinking yourself to the point of passing out on several days of the week, then thats a whole different kettle of fish.

I hope by discussing and learning about the negative affects of alcohol in your pursuit of gaining lean muscle, has given you a better insight into how you might be able to slightly modify your next alcohol induced experience to insure your natural muscle growth is least affected!

 

 

Free Ebook!

If you interested in learning more about potential methods of increasing your muscle growth I have a Ebook available to Download for FREE Titled:

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References

http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/whats-most-dangerous-drug-world-according-science/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3775162/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11912073

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6443186

http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/202/3/676.short

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9046385

http://www.ijpp.com/IJPP%20archives/2006_50_3/291-296.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3767933/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11584159

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037055/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407600/

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