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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Alcohol and Your Muscle Gains

Yes, it's fun to get drunk - but if you're serious about weight lifting, you'll drink in moderation. Alcohol can have serious detrimental effects on your muscle gains. There are five main ways in which alcohol negatively impacts your bodybuilding, so put down that beer and read on.

1) Alcohol dehydrates the body.

This means that while you're sipping on that daiquiri to quench your thirst, you're actually depriving your body of the water it needs. Muscles are composed of about 70% water, and your body requires water to synthesize new muscles. Unfortunately, the body also requires large amounts of water to flush our all that alcohol. Unless you drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink (good luck!), you're going to be dehydrated. This is particularly exacerbated the morning after a night of binge drinking.

2) Alcohol depletes your body of vitamins and minerals.

Muscle building, of course, requires numerous minerals and vitamins i! n order to take place. Drinking can hurt your muscle gains as vitamins A, C, B, calcium, zinc and phosphorus are all depleted when you drink. Taking a multivitamin might help, but won't fully negate the effects of alcohol on these nutrients.

3) Alcohol increases the amount of fat your body stores.

If you're trying to stay reasonably thin while gaining muscle (who isn't?), then alcohol is definitely not your friend. Alcohol disrupts the all-important "Krebs Cycle" and also contains 7 calories per gram (that's a lot of calories). These are empty calories, with no value at all.

4) Alcohol depletes your body of testosterone.

If you know anything about bodybuilding, you know that testosterone is one of your best friends. Its essential to muscle building, as it plays a major role in protein synthesis and the creation of new muscle fibers. Drinking reduces the amount of testosterone in your body and can actually increase estrogen!

5) ! Alcohol negatively impacts protein synthesis.

Muscle! s are ba sically pure protein. If your body can't join amino acids together to make more protein, then it definitely can't make your muscles grow! Alcohol consumption sometimes slows this process by up to 20%.

Don't get me wrong, now - I'm not advocating that you never drink again in favour of your bodybuilding goals. It's important to have a balance in life, and being social is a big part of this. Try, though, to either limit the amount you drink in a given night or limit how often you drink. Although it's difficult to judge how much is too much, I would advocate no more than one "light" drinking night per week (2 or 3 drinks). Alternatively, if you like to go all-out, I would certainly advise against binge drinking (6+ drinks) more than once a month.

Never drink on a night when you have to train the next day, and never drink the evening after a workout. Try to pick a pair of off-days, or put off your training one more day to recover from a serious binge drinking session! . Overall, I recommend simply being sensible - drink less and grow more!

Mike Bowman is the senior editor at He has years of experience in natural bodybuilding and is the author of hundreds of renowned muscle building articles.

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