When working out and building up a strong fitness regiment there are a few things to consider. Things like diet, exercise, and length of sleep are all important to recovery and protein synthesis when building muscle. Another thing that can dramatically affect the process of muscle building is the consumption of alcohol. There is a lot of debate regarding this subject, some myths, and some truths. It is time to sort out what alcohol is really doing to your muscles.
The first thing that alcohol does to the progress you have made in the gym is slow your recovery rate. Alcohol is a nervous system depressant. It retards muscle recovery and production of male hormone testosterone. All of that hard work you put in, and now if you are consuming alcohol, it won’t even pay off. If you are to tear your muscles apart by not letting them recover, you will eventually start losing strength if continuous alcohol consumption is not corrected. This is just one of the reasons that alcohol can affect your muscles.
Another reason why alcohol may be bad for muscles is the ingredients. Alcohol by itself is burnt off as energy long before your meals or fat reserves. If enough is consumed you are not burning any extra calories. Not to mention all of the carbs, and calories each beer has to offer, if beer is your drink of choice. That is why beer belly is such a common term. Alcohol increases the likelihood that you will gain fat. If you combine that with slowed muscle recovery, you are not going to see much progress.
Alcohol does however have some good properties. Like anything, if consumed in moderation, alcohol can have health benefits. Alcohol has blood thinning and cleansing properties. That is why you hear a lot of enthusiasts say a glass of wine every now and then is just fine. Of course that is true, unless that glass of wine can leave you inebriated. You should never be able to feel the effects of alcohol, mentally. Once that has happened you have already had too much. Very small portions or alcohol are “okay” but are not necessarily good. A lot depends on your genetic structure. One thing is for sure though—too much alcohol is never a good thing.
One overlooked effect alcohol has on our muscle building is erratic sleep patterns. When consuming a large amount of alcohol our bodies tend not to get the rest we need. Drugs block the REM sleep that is so crucial to our bodies, and our muscles. With sleep deprived muscles, and a dehydrated body, there isn’t much room for muscle building. Rest and recovery is just as important as exercise and weight lifting—they are mutually beneficial.
Alcohol can be very detrimental to muscle building. If you are working very hard in the gym, and you want to see results, try to stay away from alcohol, and the excessive partying that comes with it. Of course rewarding yourself with a glass of wine, or a beer once in a while isn’t that bad. Just make sure it is always in moderation.