Sunday, February 16, 2014

Why Alcohol and Bodybuilding DO NOT mix.

I don't drink. I never have. In college my friends dragged me out to bars, and we went to Vegas for New Years, and we went to house parties held by the sports teams...but I would be the sober one. Always. Even in Vegas during New Years! OCCASIONALLY I will have a glass of wine with family or Crown Royal on the rocks... but when I say occasionally, I think the last time that happened was in July 2013 when I went to Vancouver with my Dad. Alcohol isn't exciting for me, I don't like the way it makes me feel, and it's not conducive to my goals and aspirations. That being said, alcohol is not a cheat meal. In fact, I don't recommend cheat meals for anyone because the idea of eating anything you want in excess dangerously can turn into binges and cause multi-day consequences. Cheat meals are actually, in my plan, RE-FEED meals. They still hit macros, with an increase in carbs. Re-feed meals are earned. They are meant to be lower-fat, higher-carb refeeds of glycogen to your muscles. For this to happen, we recommend eating at a deficit or lower-calories throughout the week with 4-6 intense training sessions. Your glycogen levels are low and your insulin-sensitivity is high. Re-feed meals, in my plan, usually don't happen until the very last week once the individual has seen progress and gotten used to counting and prepping. If you're going to have a glass of Red wine occasionally, I don't see a problem in that. Alcohol is 7 calories a gram--more than a carbohydrate or protein gram and without any of the nutritional benefits (empty calories). If you are maintaining a macros-focused diet and training 5-6 times a week and then having the occasional, low sugar and low calorie alcoholic beverage...I think the effects in the grand scheme are negligible. Binge drinking, or anything more than a casual drink is absolutely a problem though.

Alcohol's effects usually span 1-2 days even after the night out. Alcohol dehydrates you. It inhibits VO2 (maximal oxygen consumption), it increases alcohol blood acidity, it can decrease your strength in the gym the next day...

Alcohol can leave you lethargic and it can affect the quality of your sleep--something essential for muscle synthesis and training performance.

Your liver may take two or more days to actually process and metabolize the alcohol in your system--energy and effort that should be spent metabolizing GlYCOGEN--which effectively inhibits and hinders everything LeanGains attempts to do.

You have testosterone in your system--men and women both do. We NEED the small amount of testosterone we have to build muscle. There have been studies that show that alcohol actually causes testosterone levels to DIP for up to 24 hours after drinking. Testosterone both breaks down in the blood stream and is inhibited in production. Alcohol also causes CORTISOL levels to rise and stay elevated while testosterone levels are suppressed...this means that your blood sugar will be increased for way longer than it should be. While cortisol is essential to carbohydrate metabolization, having it elevated for this long can affect the LeanGains cycling program because your metabolism won't be able to shift the way we want it to.

And of course: Alcohol INCREASES hunger and the possibility for snacking / munchies. While it would be fallacious to claim that all people who drink eventually eat over their calorie limits as well, the potential is there.

When out: Try alternating alcoholic beverages with 0-calorie drinks like water, iced tea, or maybe a Diet Coke. Wine, and clear alcohol are the best choices...especially if you mix the latter with 0-calorie mix-ins.

I'll connect again to the quote I mentioned up top. Are your choices and actions conducive to your goals and aspirations? While I understand that a social life is important and that you don't want to limit yourself from doing the things you love, but bodybuilding and attempting to get your body in the best possible shape often comes with sacrifices. I would love to sit on my couch some nights and eat pint after pint of Ben & Jerry's...but I don't because I know that what I am seeking doesn't mesh with that.


  1. Great post about alcohol and bodybuilding. I could not agree more. I actually recently posted an article about it on my website. Feel free to check it out. You have a very nice blog with great motivation. Keep it up!


  2. Great article, thanks for sharing information muscle building optimization.

  3. Very true! It is very difficult to see the best results if you are drinking alcohol!