Alcohol has long been recognized as “non-diet friendly.” Terms like “beer-belly” have been coined to reflect the outward effects of drinking. But what you may not know is the damage it does inside. I’m not talking liver or health, although those are important; I want to expose the muscle damaging properties.
Alcohol is a toxin, a muscle sabotaging toxin, and your body can not use it for any function. Every other calorie, rather from fat, carbohydrates or proteins, can be used for something in the body. When the body has enough from each of the three primary sources of calories, then the calories are stored as fat in the body. Alcohol’s calorie content (7 calories per gram) is “empty” in that no calorie can be used to maintain body tissue or function and because of that, every calorie from alcohol must be “burned off,” where as only the excess calories of the other three have to be “burned off.” Alcohol has also been proven to slow down the body’s metabolism (ability to “burn” existing fat).
Alcohol is particularly bad when you are in-training mode because it slows down protein synthesis, by about 20%. Protein synthesis is when the body combines amino acids to form complete protein chains…EVERY protein chain has to have EVERY amino acid before the body can use it in building and maintaining muscles. When you are already killing it in the gym trying to gain precious muscle you don’t need anything else slowing down the building process. And, when you finally get the muscle mass you desire, you certainly don’t need anything undoing your masterpiece.
If there is not enough protein synthesis to maintain the muscle you have or are training to build then the body will break down the muscle it can not support, or not repair the muscle you just destroyed in the gym.
That’s right, just like little Pac-Mans running around eating up the good stuff and undoing all that work.
As if that isn’t enough, Alcohol lowers testosterone and increases estrogen. This should be a no brainer and eye-opener, but let’s elaborate anyway. Testosterone is the single MOST important hormone needed to build muscle. This is why men have an easier time then women developing muscle. The amount of muscle a person can gain is directly related to their level of free-flowing testosterone.
Drinking alcohol=Lowering free-flowing testosterone
Lowering free-flowing testosterone=Lower ability to gain muscle
Lower ability to gain muscle=Wasted gym time
Depletion of water and important vitamins and minerals associated with alcohol consumption doesn’t help either. Muscle tissue is approximately 70% water, taking away such a vital part throws everything off balance. Like wise, vitamins and minerals are important to keep cells healthy and the body functioning properly (including building muscle).
Bottom line, every drink you have puts your goals a little further away from being reached.