As a personal trainer one of the biggest hurdles I find when trying to devise a nutrition plan for clients is to get them to understand the importance of eliminating, or at least significantly moderating the amount of alcohol they consume.
Apart from the fact that most people are oblivious to how many calories there are in alcohol(7 per gram, in comparison to protein and carbs 4 calorie and fats 9 calories). Too much alcohol will almost definitely have a negative impact on your muscle-building results. Alcohol is far more harmful than most people think, and it’s very important that you understand how this drug is affecting your progress. I am not trying to give an anti drink speech as anyone who knows me from my snowboarding, cruise ship and travelling days or people from back home in the UK will say I am a hypocrite as I was a BIG drinker back in those days.
But after drastically reducing my alcohol intake to about a glass of wine per month i know from personal experience that if you’re serious about achieving an impressive physique, you should be aware of why alcohol is slowing down your gains…
1 or 2 drinks every week/fortnight shouldn’t be a problem, but if you find yourself drinking every weekend you can almost certainly kiss your muscle gains goodbye.
Here are some of the reasons why….
One of the main effects of alcohol consumption is dehydration. Muscle is composed of 75 percent water. Inadequate water intake will cause your gains in muscle strength to evaporate The kidneys must filter large amounts of water to break down the alcohol, resulting in dehydration within the body.
When the body is dehydrated, it can’t work efficiently and unless you replenish the water, you will end up with a hangover. To counteract this, if you are going to drink, for every alcoholic drink you have, have 1 glass of water.
Drinking lowers testosterone and increases estrogen in the body. Testosterone, which is more prevalent in men, has a powerful fat loss effect, is reduced whenever alcohol is consumed, thus halting its full potential as a fat burner. Also, testosterone as an anabolic hormone, contributes to gains in lean muscle mass. Lowered testosterone means fewer muscle gains, and less muscle means a lowered metabolic rate. A lower metabolic rate will make the job of losing fat all the more harder, as this is what governs the way we use energy. Those with a higher metabolic rate will burn more calories at rest. By interfering with testosterone production, alcohol indirectly causes the body to lower its metabolic rate (and thus the rate at which it uses energy) and directly prohibits testosterone from exerting its powerful fat burning effects.
Vitamin & Mineral Depletion
Drinking alcohol depletes vitamins A, C, B-complex, calcium, zinc and phosphorus. These vitamins and minerals are vital to your body’s proper functioning, including the growth and maintenance of muscles. To compensate, if you know you are going to go out drinking, take a couple of multi-vitamins before you begin, to help replenish the vitamins you will lose from the alcohol. When weight-training, a time-released protein shake, which also contains vitamins and minerals, taken at bedtime will help keep your muscles from breaking down and assist with the rebuilding process during sleep.
Calories in Alcohol(7 calories per gram) are empty calories – they have no nutritional value. Most alcoholic drinks contain traces of vitamins and minerals, but not usually in amounts that make any significant contribution to our diet.
It’s not just the calories that are a problem for our waistlines. Drinking alcohol reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. While we can store nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, and fat in our bodies, we can’t store alcohol. So our systems want to get rid of it – and doing so takes priority!. All of the other processes (including the Kreb’s Cycle, a complex series of chemical reactions in the cells, which plays an important role in fat burning) are interrupted.
Kidney and Stomach damage from overconsumption which ultimately interferes with a healthy metabolism and the weight loss process. The liver – which processes toxins and breaks down fats for fuel is crucial when it comes to maintaining a healthy body composition. Alcohol is at its most destructive during the livers detoxification process
Negative affect on protein synthesis.
Protein synthesis is the process where amino acids are joined together to form complete proteins. Excessive alcohol consumption slows this process down by up to 20%, and since your muscles are made up of protein, you can see how this is a problem.
It’s important to have fun and enjoy life, but . If you’re serious about achieving significant muscle-building results, you definitely need to monitor your intake of alcohol and make sure that you are consuming it in moderation. If you do decide to go out and party, make sure to drink plenty of water and to properly nourish yourself with vitamins/minerals and a protein rich meal.