The Effects of Alcohol in Weight Training
If you’re serious about weight training and putting on muscle it’s important to know how your body works. We all know that protein shakes, the right diet and a proper sleep schedule are all essential to building muscle, but how does alcohol consumption effect your ability to build muscle? Here’s a few ways in which drinking alcohol can have a seriously negative effect on your body during weight training.
Water is essential for everything that happens inside your body. You can’t break down fat without water, nor can you build muscle without it. One of the problems with alcohol consumption is two-fold – firstly it interferes with your body’s ability to produce anti-diuretic hormone. Without this hormone your body struggles to reabsorb water, making you lose whatever water you would normally absorb through increased urination. This leads to dehydration, which in turn leads to cell shrinkage and protein breakdown, undoing all your hard work in the process. It doesn’t end there though – water is also essential for removing toxins and waste products from your body; by dehydrating yourself you’re increasing your recovery time before you can start putting on muscle properly.
This brings us to protein synthesis – the whole point of your weight training workouts. Alcohol consumption can slow down and even stop your body’s ability to build muscle by interfering with the proteins which activate muscle growth on a molecular level. On top of this, studies have shown that alcohol consumption can decrease the production of HGH, the Human Growth Hormone which helps with muscle growth and repair, by up to 70 per cent. When you go to the gym and put in 70 per cent less effort you don’t get anywhere – by hitting the bar straight after the gym that is what you are effectively doing.
Have you ever noticed how much fun a hangover is? A hangover is the result of your body breaking down alcohol - unfortunately and the further your body gets in the breakdown process, the harder the process gets for your body. This is why the hair of the dog works as an instant ‘hangover cure’ – your body takes the easy job of breaking down the new alcohol first. Unfortunately your body will still prefer to burn alcohol before it starts burning fat, which means that every drink slows down your fat burn a little bit more. A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that as little as 24g of alcohol (about 2 pints) can slow your fat metabolism by as much as 73 per cent. If you’re lifting weights to drop your weight, alcohol will very quickly undo all your hard work. On top of this, alcohol is calorific. Your average pint of beer is around 180 calories – alcohol itself is around 7 calories per gram, which isn’t going to help your weight loss in the slightest.
While binging on alcohol will have a seriously negative effect on your body, you don’t have to go teetotal when it comes to hitting the bar after work or after the gym. One or two pints every now and then won’t hurt your training too badly – we all need a cheat day every now and then. The problem comes when your drinking starts to negatively affect your ability to train, and when your temptations become compulsions. You don’t want undo the blood, sweat and tears which go into a good workout session, so if you do drink, drink responsibly and know what “just one more pint” actually means. If you’re struggling with temptation there are several things you can do to distract yourself – meditation and yoga have proven benefits when it comes to physical fitness and muscle building and are even recommended by professionals in the rehab business. For others, going for a walk, listening to music or calling a friend for a chat all form a way of avoiding temptation. If you’re struggling with temptation and want to talk to someone about alcohol addiction, there are many places you can turn to, such as our friends at Dry Out Now.
Dry Out Now is a division of Triage Healthcare providing professional treatment, help and advice for people struggling with alcohol addiction across the UK.