So you train hard in the gym and your nutrition plan is solid but what about the effects of alcohol? I bet a lot of people would rather go out for a few drinks on the weekend than have a cheat meal, but which is worse for your results and progress?

This article should give you an understanding of how alcohol influences the results you get from your training and help you decide if a few drinks fit into your training and diet plan.

Effects of Alcohol on Training

Ask yourself this, are you going to be breaking any records in the gym after a huge night on the town? When you are feeling hungover and tired, the last thing you want to do is go and lift some heavy weights! Resistance training is inherently dangerous, you are purposefully putting your body under stress in order to force adaptation. Training in a hungover state is setting yourself up for an injury which could put you out of action for weeks – it’s not worth doing at all.

Effects of Alcohol on Testosterone

Testosterone is one of the most important hormones when it comes to building muscle mass – there’s a reason men tend to be naturally more muscular than women! When alcohol is consumed, the activity of an enzyme called testosterone reductase increases which increases the breakdown of testosterone in the liver. We are not saying that this effect will be catastrophically bad, but it is something to keep in mind.

Effects of Alcohol on Sleep and Growth Hormone

Growth hormone plays an important role in building muscle and other cells in the body as well as promoting optimal bone growth. If your growth hormone levels are low, you won’t see the same muscle-building benefits as you would with optimal hormone levels. Our bodies produce growth hormone predominantly at night, during the early hours of sleeping. Since alcohol tends to disrupt our general sleep rhythms, it can reduce our production of growth hormone. Again we are not saying that this is the end of the world it’s just not something we want!

Effects of Alcohol on Recovery

The body reacts to alcohol like a poison. It is a toxic substance which must be removed and any damage which occurs as a result of alcohol intake must be repaired. This entire process takes energy which could be put to good use in the gym or for recovery after training.

Effects of Alcohol on Glycogen Synthesis

Muscle glycogen is the main energy source which is used by our bodies for anaerobic exercise such as lifting weights. Drinking alcohol after exercising reduces the amount of glycogen which is stored in our muscles because the liver must process the alcohol instead of converting glucose from food into glycogen for storage. This means that the next time you hit the weights, in theory you will fatigue more quickly and will not be able to keep up with your normal training volume.

Effects of Alcohol on Dehydration

Alcohol acts as a diuretic and will disrupt the natural water balance in your body and make you dehydrated. Dehydration has a number of negative effects on the body including reductions in protein synthesis, athletic performance, fat loss and joint health. Read more about the benefits of staying hydrated here!

Effects of Alcohol on Caloric Intake

Alcohol is dense in calories and a few drinks can easily be equivalent to a decent sized meal. Since alcoholic drinks are liquids which will not fill you up like solid food, it’s easy to consume a huge amount of useless calories form alcohol. As an added disadvantage, in your drunken state you are more likely to start snacking on things you wouldn’t touch under normal circumstances. Drinking alcohol to excess and not reducing your caloric intake to compensate will make you fat!

Conclusion

If you’re serious about your fitness goals and have the discipline, then steer clear of alcohol altogether! If you must have a few drinks then make sure to drink plenty of water, reduce your caloric intake from food and consume nutrient rich foods throughout the day to compensate.