Protein’s Arch Nemesis: Alcohol

Many people like to train hard in the gym during the day and then reward themselves by going out at night, maybe for a couple beers or even a crazy night at a club, possibly waking up the next day with a raging hangover. However, that night of drinking really can affect you in terms of getting into proper shape and looking your best.


Here are some of the effects that alcohol has on muscle growth:

1) Alcohol severely inhibits protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process of making protein in the cells. Frequent alcohol consumption can slow protein synthesis by up to 20%. Protein synthesis needs to be running optimally in order for you to make some serious gains in muscle. Since muscles are primarily made from protein, and amino acids are used to build muscle, alcohol can really hinder musculature.

2) Alcohol consumption increases the chance of dehydrating. Kidneys extract the water from your cells in an attempt to filter out any alcohol in the body. Water is needed in the body to keep you hydrated and to perform vigorously in the gym. Furthermore, muscles are comprised of approximately 70% water, thus making it a major nutrient for growth. Water helps your body maintain a positive nitrogen balance, which is essential for muscle growth.

3) Alcohol decreases testosterone levels while increasing estrogen. Testosterone is a male hormone that directly supports muscle growth. No wonder why teenagers have such easy time packing on muscle opposed to the later years. Testosterone is pumping through adolescent bodies like crazy. However, alcohol really decreases this incredible hormone and your muscles are sure to suffer. In addition, alcohol increases the amount of estrogen, a female hormone that is produced in small amounts in the male body. Increasing the level of estrogen in a male can create many health problems such as loss of muscle tone, increased body fat, enlarged prostate, “man boobs”, and other health problems.

4) Levels of vitamins and minerals in the body become severely diminished upon the consumption of alcohol. Your body needs vitamins and minerals to function properly. Consequently, in order to sustain muscle mass, let alone grow, vitamins are necessary to carry out functions within the body in order to do so. Alcohol will drain your body of them and will bring your muscles down with them accordingly.

5) Alcohol has 7 empty calories per gram and could turn you into mush. When drinking multiple drinks per night along with the sugary drinks associated with them, don’t be surprised if you are consuming a thousand or more empty calories (containing no nutritional value) in the duration of one night. Additionally, alcohol is the first thing in your body that needs to be absorbed and burned. So any kind of protein you have may not reach the muscles and your carbs and fat you eat most likely will be absorbed as body fat. Additionally, alcohol dramatically hinders the Krebs’s Cycle, which consists of the natural metabolic processes taking place in your body helping use nutrients, such as fat and vitamins, for energy. A night out of drinking can bloat you up in excess of 1,000 calories. You’re going to have to work extra time in the gym to burn that off!


Note: Besides hindering muscle growth, there are countless of other negative effects that alcohol can have on the body, such as damage to the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, etc. Be careful with what you put into your body!

MP’s suggestion: Always drink in moderation. Suffice for half the beers you normally drink and spread them out over a longer period of time. Drink a glass of water in between every drink.

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