T Nation

Alcohol and Bodybuilding

I have read these two words don’t go along and I also have read that drinking doesn’t affect bodybuilding.

Whats the real deal?

Can alcohol hinder your progress and make you weak? Will it really break down muscle tissue? Will it affect the way your body absorbs protein? Will it deplete your testosterone? Too many facts, but which one is true…?

alcohol is poison. plain and simple. your body does not like it. does it screw with your endrocine system. hell yes it does. i remeber reading in one of Berardi’s articles that alcohol can lower ur test levels for up to 16 hours (if i remeber correctly) after drinking. this may not kill your gains but its definatly not good for them

Whether alcohol affects gains or not to me is irrelevant. I lift, and do all the things I do, to enjoy my life. If that means I have to sacrifice some gains to have some beers with my friends, oh well. I will do it, and never complain about it.

The real question is, what is more important to you. If your body, and your gains, and the fitness aspect of your life is more important, dont drink.

But in my case, hanging out, enjoying life, having a few beers with my friends at the bar in the neighborhood at least once a week is more important. I won’t give this up for anything, so I will continue to drink, and just have to work harder to correct the imbalance if there is one. (Which I believe there is)

It all comes down to you, and your motivation and goals.

Being at university and lifting you can imagine ive had my share of the booze whilst training. I’ve now been 6 months off the shit (please no round of applause as if it was a hard thing to do). All i can say is i am a lot better off for it. I figured i only have this body once im going to treat it right and be proud of what i build inside and outside, alcohol as stated above is a poison. Your body doesnt need it, doesnt want it and has no use. The persons inhibitions and lack of social skills requires alcohol to have a good time ( no offence to the drinkers its not like i havent). But there is no need, just set yourself a target and lay off it. If you are a dedicated to lifting then quitting the drink for a month is a piece of piss.

This was sent to me by a friend the other day actually… quite funny:
http://www.tallrite.com/LightRelief/alcoholwarning.htm

Getting completely wasted on alcohol on a weekly basis is ridiculous and if it takes drinking in excess (I am not talking about a drink or two) for you to converse with others or have a good time, its time to step off of the trend following train.

I would rather get completely high before getting completely intoxicated. Key term being toxic. When you put your body in that state it has little concern for muscle repair and hypertrophy and more for keeping all systems running.

To me it doesn’t make sense, if you work hard in your training and diet, why bother if you are going to suck the life out of it?

Again I am not talking about the casual drink. Most of the heavy drinkers while being lifters are stuck in a permanent body structure called the AFG, average frat guy.

Don’t worry so much.

You’re going to die sometime, you can’t take your body with you, and you won’t live forever like me.

So knock back a few and toast living it up a little.

1-2 micro brews or glasses of wine a night are a great idea, with the health benefits far outweighing the risks.
1-2 bottles of wine or half-racks of beer a night are a horrible idea, with proven health detriments and almost no benefits.
I feel better when I have a glass of red wine with dinner. I also feel that my lifts go up and I have more stamina. However, when I have more than two drinks I feel like ass the next day and do not want to lift or exercise at all.

I believe Berardi’s “up to 16 hours” applies to binge drinking morons. If you’re only having a drink or three an hour (whatever your metabolism can sift through), there’s a big difference in the effect. Some people get so trashed, they can still feel alcohol’s effects 16 hours later. Think of that.

Good question, I’ve read many times on T-Nation that alcohol should not be consumed as it hinders one’s progress, and I have accepted it blindly.

I went to PubMed, did a bit of digging.

A) I couldn’t find the full article, but the abstract is quite clear, in that Vingren et al. (1) did tests on rats showing that: “Chronic alcohol intake appeared to reduce the AR [Androgen Receptor] content of the type IIB fiber-predominant rectus femoris, and this reduction was not affected by RT [Resistance Training]. In the type I-predominant soleus, chronic alcohol intake alone had no effect but seemed to prevent RT-induced increases in AR content.” This is a significant finding since the soleus muscle is so large and powerful. The Androgen Receptor is involved in the proliferation of protein gene transcription. Less AR in a muscle simply means less protein being synthesized in that muscle.

B)Reed AH, McCarty HL, Evans GL, Turner RT, and Westerlind KC (2002) explored alcohol’s affects on bone mass. They guaged alcoholic rats that exercised, versus alcoholic rats taht did not exercise and found no difference in bone mass, but they did find a difference between the alcoholics and sobers - this was that the alcoholic rats had significantly reduced bone formation. So, alcoholism could be especially troublesome since resistance training athletes put extra stress (compared to non-athlete-people) on their bones: leading to fractures and breaks.

C) To avoid bias in me picking out studies, it should be noted that two other studies were quasi-inconclusive in that they affirmed the need for more research into the area of question (3) (4).

(1)Vingren JL, Koziris LP, Gordon SE, Kraemer WJ, Turner RT, & Westerlind KC (2005). Chronic alcohol intake, resistance training, and muscle androgen receptor content. Issue 37,11; 1842-8.
(2)Reed AH, McCarty HL, Evans GL, Turner RT, & Westerlind KC (2002). The effects of chronic alcohol consumption and exercise on the skeleton of adult male rats. Issue 26, 8; 1269-74.
(3)Burke LM, Collier GR, Broad EM, Davis PG, Martin DT, Sanigorski AJ, & Hargreaves M. Effect of alcohol intake on muscle glycogen storage after prolonged exercise (2003). 95, 3; 983-90.
(4) Chicco AJ, McCarty H, Reed AH, Story RR, Westerlind KC, Turner RT, Hayward R. Resistance exercise training attenuates alcohol-induced cardiac oxidative stress. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil., 13, 1; 74-9.

Alcohol is a toxin.

your question needs more explanation though because alcohol and how it effects your training will come down to these comments:

how much you drink, how often you drink?

getting absolutely wrecked 2-3 times a week will obviously effect you. getting wrecked once a week will hinder gains to some degree ( booze dehydrates you - so that cant be doing much good) but a couple of bottles 2-3 times a week won’t be so bad. moderation is the key here.

I don’t drink at all, well I do, but only pn special occasions but even then I dont like doing it.

another problem with drinking is the entire next day it decreases appietite. i never eat the day after drinking but when i drink i dont have a few, ever. i drink around a case when i do.

Sure it’s not good for progress. But it’s a choice and a balancing act. You can still make excellent progress and have a few brews on the weekends. But you know the score. If you’re not happy with your rate of progress or have plateaued, look to minimize or drop it for awhile.

[quote]wannbeBIG wrote:
Alcohol is a toxin.

your question needs more explanation though because alcohol and how it effects your training will come down to these comments:

how much you drink, how often you drink?

getting absolutely wrecked 2-3 times a week will obviously effect you. getting wrecked once a week will hinder gains to some degree ( booze dehydrates you - so that cant be doing much good) but a couple of bottles 2-3 times a week won’t be so bad. moderation is the key here.

I don’t drink at all, well I do, but only pn special occasions but even then I dont like doing it.[/quote]

You could maybe benefit from more alcohol if it helps you relax and calm down and enjoy life a little more. That might be reflected in your training and physique.

Kinda off-topic, but related.

I’m going to get flamed for this but I don’t care.

First of all, I’m a three beer drunk because I drink about 1x every 2-3 months.

Whenever I feel a slight buzz (after 1 or 2 beers) I find that I am able to perform better in strength and endurance actitivities: namely the squat, pull-ups, and running for distance.

I advise you to not mess around with the squat when under any influence. But pull-ups and running are safe.

Anecdotal: I can do about 12-15 pull-ups sober, 20 (easily) under alcholic influence.

[quote]oboffill wrote:
Whenever I feel a slight buzz (after 1 or 2 beers) I find that I am able to perform better in strength and endurance actitivities: namely the squat, pull-ups, and running for distance.
[/quote]

You’ve run long distances after a couple beers?

Hmm, brings new meaning to the term “Beer Run”…

Are alcohol and bodybuilding synonymous? Nope.

That being said I rarely drink. I work too damn hard all week to piss some of my progress away on the weekends. I spend at least 8 hours in the gym a week, I eat food I don’t particularly like, cook all day Sunday, sacrifice at work related social functions, so I’m sure as shit not going to jeopardize that time and effort to get a buzz (most of the time).

However, there are some exceptions. If the CEO of my company wants me to do shots with him (happens occasionally), I’m running up to the bar and ordering them.

If that 10 I have been eyeing for the past couple of weeks wants to go out for drinks, I’m picking the bar.

But like I said, in general its just not worth it to me, given the amount of time and effort I devote to this.

All of my friends get pissed off at me when we are at a party and I’m not drinking, I just ignore the peer pressure. I do enjoy my life, but currently I want to display my best physique ever, so i don’t want to ruin all my efforts. My friends have no idea how serious I am about my goals, waking up at 8am for cardio, and having my six meals a day everyday at the same time. I have found that the extra calories from the alcohol don’t go along with my abs, so for now…I am off the booze.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
Sure it’s not good for progress. But it’s a choice and a balancing act. You can still make excellent progress and have a few brews on the weekends. But you know the score. If you’re not happy with your rate of progress or have plateaued, look to minimize or drop it for awhile.[/quote]

Well put.

That one glass of wine a night with dinner is a great idea. The anti-oxidants and relaxing properties are terrific.

But here’s the thing:

When I drink, I want to drink more, like the whole bottle. It starts as I’m prepping dinner, the bottle on the kitchen counter, mocking me. Once it’s open it will not get re-corked, it will get consumed entirely and leave me tanked on the couch.

So I don’t drink during the week.

Weekends, if there is a party or a BBQ, I have a few beers but I just don’t see the sense in getting shitfaced when my goals are to be stronger and healthier.

B.

Nobody has mentioned the benefits of alcohol consupmtion. Like a lower risk of Heart Disease and Stroke. Of course there are no benefits to binge drinking and alcoholism. So it’s only beneficial in moderation 1-2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women.

For me nothing is good when I over do it. This goes for alcohol, food, and yes even excercise.

A google search brought up this link. It might help you make a more informed decision.