One question you may find yourself asking is whether indulging in the odd alcoholic beverage will impact your progress. You want to see great results in the gym. You want to build muscle and burn fat – and achieve a higher level of fitness.
But at the same time, you also really don’t want to pass up your Friday night out with your buddies either. Must you give up one thing you love for the other?
Let’s look at the facts.
Alcohol & Calories
First let’s talk about calories. Sadly, alcohol is full of them. If you are drinking shots of plain liquor, the good news is that this is the lowest calorie option as most of these shots will only contain 70-100 calories per ounce.
But, if you are drinking beer, wine, or mixed drinks (the worst option), you could easily be taking in 150-400 calories per drink.
This adds up very quickly and as you might imagine, and can really put the brakes on fat loss results. If that is the goal you are working toward, drinking definitely impacts your gains.
If it’s muscle building you’re after, you might think that these calories are no big deal, after all, you want to be consuming more, but remember that the body is not going to use alcohol calories to assist with tissue building. Therefore, there is a high probability they will just get converted to body fat.
Alcohol & Hormones
Next, consider the impact alcohol has on your hormonal levels, namely testosterone. When alcohol enters the body, testosterone production will shut down. This decreases your overall muscle building capacity and can also lead to feelings of weakness and lower levels of drive and motivation.
To make matters worse, if you are drinking beer, you may notice your estrogen levels rising as beer has estrogenic effects. This counteracts with testosterone even further.
If you hope to build muscle or get lean, alcohol creates a very unfavorable hormonal environment and therefore can impact your ability to get results.
Alcohol & Recovery
Finally, let’s not forget about how alcohol influences your recovery rates. Ever woken up after a night of too much drinking? Chances are, you didn’t feel so well.
When alcohol enters your system, all other processes stop and oxidizing that alcohol becomes top priority. This includes protein synthesis – which is the rebuilding of muscle tissue.
If you go out for a few drinks after hitting the gym, don’t be surprised if it takes you longer to recover and therefore, if you struggle to make it to the gym as planned.
So as you can see, alcohol definitely does impact your gains. While the odd drink here and there may not be too problematic, if you find yourself drinking quite heavily at least one night per week, rest assured it’s impacting your progress.
Related: How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
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