T Nation

Ethanol Consumption - Research?


I was reading some blogs and books on alcohol consumption and longevity/insulin sensitivity, and the topic of protein synthesis came up. The author mentioned how this is unsubstantiated in the scientific literature outside of chronic alcoholics.

I warmed up Pubmed and have been looking for 20 minutes or so (not too long), I have found a few studies in which alcohol suppressed protein synthesis chronically in alcohol abuse, but none that would correlate to social drinking (even up to 10 beers in a single sitting).

The author also pointed that testosterone reductions in men after alcohol ingestion, although present, are fairly negligible. The first study linked showed 23% decreased test are 1.5g ethanol/lb body weight for 10-16 hours; the second study was 30-40g ethanol (3 drinks?) a day for 6 weeks and noted a 6.8% decrease.

Which is not that significant unless you need that single pound of muscle over the course of 2 years (My conjecture).

So I guess my point is, does anybody know of any research that is applicable to social drinking and shows significantly negative effects on body composition.

Hell, I even saw some research to indicate that alcohol may increase insulin sensitivity chronically via increased AMPK, and there is a correlation with social drinking (7 drinks/week-ish) and lower body fat, although the mechanism is not clear.


Hmm. You think consuming ethanol on a regular basis is going to improve your physique? I know you don't think that, but why then would you be asking? Aside from the small potential benefit, you have to consider that negative effects. There is a tradeoff --

slightly increased insulin sensitivity *(which can easily be gained by working out with weights and or HIIT, or just by simply not eating too much refined carbs at the wrong times),
for the neuro/hepato-toxic effects of ethanol.

One proposed mechanism as to why moderate consumption of alcohol improves health is that ethanol is the treatment for the toxic methanol (it converts to the extremely toxic formaldehyde and ethanol acts as a competitor for methanol's conversion)... Methanol has greatly increased in the average diet in the last 100 years from modern canning/bottling and aspartame which is 11% methanol http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19896282

Anyways, as far as ethanol for improved insulin sensitivity goes, I think the risks outweigh the reward.


What about the reward of getting wasted?



What about potential hormetic effects of ethanol on cognition? It has been correlated with reduced rates of Alzheimer's disease and higher cognition (although I will readily admit this could be a class issue in epidemiological research, or possible negating methanol toxicity as you alluded to).

Also, I do not think that 100% of the methanol content of aspartame is biologically active; from what I have read it breaks down into it's constituents in the intenstines and ingested amounts of aspartame do not correlate with serum increases of aspartate, glutamate, and methanol; suggesting not much bioavailability.

I digress though, any opinions on the protein synthesis/test issue? It's not like I want to involve alcohol in my routine because it has potential to improve my health, I just want to live my live as it comes and do not want to 'fear' a compound with no logical basis of said fear.


Martin Berkhan recently wrote an article on this with some interesting viewpoints.


That may or may not be the article which piqued my interest in the topic and this post :slight_smile:


Alcohol (ethanol) is good healthy marinade for BBQ! Beer especially, I think due to the hops, has been shown to dramatically reduce the heterocyclic amines that get formed through high heat cooking/BBQing.

The cognition benefit of certain types of alcohol, like red wine, is most likely due to the powerful plant polyphenols like resveratrol and pterostilbene that it contains. Research has shown that resveratrol can prevent Alzheimerâ??s disease. Alcohol appears to significantly improve its absorption. A high dose product (RezV) is also a good option if you want to avoid the issues with alcohol.

I disagree about the bioactivity of methanol from aspartame. Sensitivity to aspartame varies greatly and most don't have a significant problem. Aspartame breaks down releasing methanol, but the effects it has on an individual vary depending on the presence of aldehyde dehydrogenase sufficient to reduce the toxic effect of formaldehyde production in tissue through its conversion to the much less toxic formic acid.

Hormones: Hops in beer is highly estrogenic. One or two beers daily? Your body may be able to handle a certain amount. I'm not sure.

Protein synthesis: Alcohol causes dehydration which can significantly impair MPS. Ever been particularly sore the day after working out in the afternoon and drinking at night? Dehydration is also bad for test.




People who consume 3-4 alcoholic beverages a week live longer than non-drinkers...

I dont drink, but this fascinates me.


BT, in regards to your first point on red wine; I have seen research that indicates the ethanol molecule instead of plant polyphenols, as the cognition was seen with types of wines, vodkas, spirits, as well as beer. (Full disclosure, epidemiological. Open to a lot of variables still but I do not think resveratrol and other polyphenols are causative)

And the presence of that enzyme is if methanol is present in the tissues, my point was that uptake may be impaired at the intestinal wall before it even reaches tissues.

And I can't help but feel you are setting up a strawman argument for alcohol and dehydration; I wish to inquire about ethanol and protein synthesis and testosterone, not dehydration and test. I can just not break the seal when I drink and have some electrolyte solution in water a few hours after.

I can't speak for the hops as I am too tired to search Medline and other individual journals at the moment, but I enjoy chick drinks and sake (for some god awful reason), so I'm good there.


That's interesting. I seem to remember that now. Marambaud has good research supporting the therapeutic potential of resveratrol for alzheimer's prevention http://www.jbc.org/content/280/45/37377.full

Fair point. I don't have anything on that at this time.

I wouldn't call it a strawman argument. I'd call it connecting the dots. Preventing dehydration is conditional on consuming the extra electrolytes after you drink. Do you really think it's practical to assume that everyone is going to do that every time? Maybe you would, but most would not -- even if they wanted to, they might be too busy macking chicks to remember. To get all sciency, ethanol alcohol, even in moderate doses, mitigates the production of antidiuretic hormone. Consequently, one's kidneys are no longer able to reabsorb as much water as they should be absorbing, leading to creation of excessive volumes of urine, subsequently/consequently leading to overall dehydration.

Alright, well have sweet dreams baby. Haha. jus playin


This is why I love debating with you online BT, no e-peen waving and we both learn things from it :smiley:

I guess I'll search the literature a bit more over thanksgiving weekend and see if I can come to any more conclusions, which I will then post in this thread.

But yeah. 1/2 red sourpuss and 1/2 banana rum = liquid swedish berries. It's like getting my childhood drunk.