What I’m about to say shouldn’t come as a shock: Alcohol and fitness do not mix. Common sense would lead you to know this, but you might not realize to just how much of an extent the two are incompatible.
It’s not a question of only drinking certain types of alcohol or alcoholic beverages; it’s not a question of only drinking at certain times, or only drinking a certain number of times per week, or volume of alcohol; if you’re trying to build muscle and burn fat, you shouldn’t drink at all. With the exception of one or two beers or glasses of wine per month, no alcohol should touch your lips if you have fitness goals.
Before I even get into all the health stuff, let me just talk about motivation for a minute. Working out and getting results takes discipline. It’s not always fun and some days you aren’t going to want to do it, but if you want good results, you just have to make yourself do it.
I know from personal experience how much alcohol gets in the way of this. When you’re hung over, the very last thing on your mind is exercise. There are no easier times to blow things off than when you’re drunk or hung over. Just keep that in mind.
Alcohol is a diuretic – a substance that flushes fluids out of your body. The more alcohol you drink, the more dehydrated you become. You need to drink at least one glass of water to replace the water lost from every alcoholic beverage you drink.
Your muscles thrive on water. They need it to grow and repair themselves. Being dehydrated is one of the easiest ways to sabotage your workout program.
Alcohol is Poison
Rarely do we refer to alcohol as what it really is: poison. Literally. Alcohol is a toxin and your body treats it as such. It treats it like poison. This should just be common sense. You don’t need a doctor or a medical journal to know that putting poison in your body is one of the worst things you can do, whether you’re an athlete or not.
Testosterone plays an important roll in muscle growth. Alcohol not only reduces your testosterone levels, it increases your estrogen levels. Obviously, men should be concerned about this, but so should women. If you’re a woman with estrogen dominance – an abnormally high level of estrogen – you should not drink.
Human Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone (HGH) also plays a vital roll in muscle development. That’s why many athletes (illegally) take HGH supplements – to get bigger and stronger with less effort. Alcohol can suppress the production of HGH by as much as 70%.
Alcohol is Catabolic
Catabolism is the opposite of anabolism. When your body is in an anabolic state, it is repairing and growing muscle tissue, making your muscles bigger and stronger. When your body is in a catabolic state, it is atrophying muscle tissue, make your muscles smaller and weaker.
Alcohol eats muscle. If you want to throw money and time down the drain, go spend your hard earned cash on protein powder and a gym membership, and then go out drinking.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re drinking a few drinks every day, ever other day, or binging on the weekends, you’re erasing your workouts. Say you workout hard Monday through Friday, and then Saturday night you go out and drink enough to leave you with a hangover on Sunday… you virtually erased any and all gains you made that week.