It’s #ThirstyThursday and you just smashed your lift in the gym, you PR’d on almost all your exercises and your gym partner says: “hey, let’s go out and celebrate our gains and get lit!” You high five and head out to the bar.
Fast forward and you’re ordering a double shot because your favorite song came on and you’re still feeling amazing from your lift. You throw it back and order another double…and now we take a magic school bus ride down your throat and follow what that alcohol is actually doing to those gains you – thought you – made today.
Alcohol does not have any nutritional value but it does have calories, empty calories. It has 7 calories per gram so, that double (3oz) you just slammed has nearly 200 empty calories in it.
Aside from the empty calories you’re consuming, which will push the number on the scale up, alcohol slows down metabolism because it cannot be stored in the body. Because the body can’t store alcohol, it must metabolize it right away, which means the body won’t metabolize sugars and fats as efficiently. This is how alcohol can cause your metabolism to slow down (and fat to be stored).
– READ MORE: Do You Have To Ditch Alcohol To Lose Weight? –
Along these same lines, one of the key functions of metabolism is to keep blood sugar levels stable in the body, but it can’t metabolize sugar efficiently while it’s trying to rid your body of alcohol so, blood sugar levels drop causing hypoglycemia which is especially dangerous in diabetics.
Beyond slowing your metabolism and dropping your blood sugar to potentially dangerous levels, alcohol dehydrates the body, which includes your muscle cells. Hydrated muscle cells are important because they create an anabolic environment which encourages muscle growth. If your cells aren’t holding water, they won’t trigger the multiple anabolic reactions needed to grow muscle. Including increased amino acid transportation and protein synthesis.
In fact, alcohol can lower protein synthesis by 20% as well as block the absorption of important nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and potassium. These are key to muscle contraction, relaxation and growth but perhaps not as key as testosterone is to muscle growth.
– READ MORE: 5 Alcohol Mistakes You’re Probably Making –
Now I’ve got your attention because I said the T word and nobody messes with your gains, I better explain myself. Alcohol continues to block your gains by lowering testosterone and increasing oestrogen. In one study, at the most intoxicated state, testosterone levels dropped by 25%. Another study done with rats found alcohol reduced Insulin like Growth Hormone-1 (IGF-1) by up to 42% – that’s huge.
If you don’t know what any of that means, I will make it simple, those big drops in testosterone and IGF-1 mean it’s going to be difficult to achieve any gains.
Life is about moderation and balance but if you’re slamming alcohol regularly you may want to reconsider the research if you’re serious about your fitness goals. Alcohol doesn’t just lead to a lower intensity workout at the gym the next day but actually modifies the body’s cellular processes negatively, working against efforts toward fat loss and/or muscle gain.
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