Will Alcohol Kill Your Gains?
There is no disputing that alcohol consumption diminishes muscle development, no matter the workout routine that is used. A few drinks may not seem to have that drastic of an impact. However, the effect is seen in a number of ways. There are ways to help curb the negative effect and recognizing the importance of these various steps is vital to maximizing gains.
The range of ways alcohol works against muscle gains is disappointing to say the least. Alcohol contains little more than empty calories given the lowly nutritional value. In addition to the unnecessary calories, it slows metabolism. As the body focuses on breaking down the alcohol rather than the fats, preventing overall development.
Perhaps the most obvious characteristic of alcohol development is dehydration. Put simply, cells lacking water will lack muscle build. In addition, dried out cells struggled to absorb the nutrients needed to help both grow and recover muscles following a workout. In fact, a lack of water can work against attempted gains as limited fluids accelerate the process of protein breakdown…the opposite of gains.
On a more scientific level, alcohol prevents protein synthesis as it lowers testosterone levels. Alcohol stimulates the brain in a way that promotes relaxation. While this may be the intent on a night out, these are the wrong signals to be sending the body prior to and during a workout. The effect can go as far as eliminating the existing testosterone that is already within the bloodstream. Testosterone is required for muscle development, and calling for estrogen instead results in potential breakdowns over the long-term.
This is not to say that alcohol must be completely abandoned in order to maintain muscle gains. Alcohol will decrease the protein synthesis (as stated above), but there is a delay between consumption and when your body actually feels that negative impact. Extending to a full day later before synthesis will be at its lowest, it is best to have a few drinks the day of your workouts rather than on recovery days.