The effect alcohol has on building muscle

Firstly the purpose of this article is not to say whether or not you should drink alcohol. I for one have had my fare share over the years and fitted right into the binge drinking culture New Zealand is now known for. For the record as it stands I have not had a drink in over three years and I don’t miss the hangovers!
Drinking in my opinion is not going to destroy your chances of building muscle, I can use myself as an example and many a client some who had/have a good degree of muscle mass. However in saying that I can personally attest to the fact that you will not be the best you, you can be if your going to drink to much. I came to realise this myself since having stopped drinking and making much better progress.
Ok let’s look at the facts of the effect alcohol will have on building muscle.
In order to build muscle a process in the body must first occur-this process is called protein synthesis. Without this process occurring your body cannot build muscle.
So what actually is protein synthesis? In short protein synthesis occurs in the body where protein in the form of food is turned into muscle. When you do resistance training it causes small micro tears in the muscles. I should point out this will happen presuming you are doing resistance training correctly! If you have been pressing 5kgs Dumbbells for the last year it’s a safe bet you won’t be causing to many micro tears in your muscles!!!! The micro tears that are caused through resistance training when done correctly are repaired through protein synthesis which in turn leads to muscle growth.
Ok let’s now add alcohol to the scenario, this is when the problem begins. Scientific research has proven that alcohol prevents protein synthesis occurring to its full potential. In other words preventing optimum muscle growth.
Protein synthesis also involves testosterone and growth hormone, two hormones that the body produces which are key to the muscle building process.
Testosterone as you more than likely know is the male hormone although females do produce small amounts also. It’s the main reason males have more muscle than females and also why males are able to burn bodyfat easier than females. Alcohol can lower testosterone by up to 25% which also reduces protein synthesis.
Like testosterone growth hormone is an important hormone in helping build muscle and like testosterone growth hormone helps with protein synthesis. The body releases growth hormone when we sleep for the most part but also when we exercise more so with resistance training.
If alcohol is in your system research shows it can suppress growth hormone by up to 70% while sleeping which once again impacts on protein synthesis occurring as it should.
My suggestion is if you are going to drink try to avoid doing it on the days you do resistance training and ideally the day after aswell as this is when protein synthesis is occurring. If you do have a drink it’s not going to wipe out all your hard work but it will make building muscle all the more difficult!

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