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Does Alcohol and Bodybuilding Mix?Leave a Reply

One of the most common questions that I get is, "will too much drinking hurt my results", and most of the time I let out a chuckle and shake my head, because they already know the answer. OF COURSE! Honestly, anything in excess, is not good.

I have always said that alcoholic beverages and beer can be enjoyed on occasion, but only in moderation. My definition of moderation would be one or to three drinks per day and only occasionally (like on the weekends). Some studies have shown protective health benefits from drinking small amounts of alcohol, particularly red wine. However, drinking excessively will definitely interfere with your muscular gains, decrease your energy and contribute to fat storage.

The primary problem with all alcohol, regardless of what form it's in - beer, liquor, or wine - is that the calories add up so quickly. At seven calories per gram, alcohol is the second most calorically dense nutrient behind fat, which contains nine calories per gram. When you're trying to lose body fat, all those extra calories certainly don't help with your fitness endeavors. Alcohol suppresses the body's ability to burn fat. When your liver is metabolizing alcohol, fat burning in the body stops altogether!

Alcohol also dehydrates you, it interferes with the absorption of many nutrients and excessive consumption has been linked to health problems such as liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiomyopathy, abnormal heart rhythms, cancer, decreased resistance to infections, gout and hypoglycemia.

The key in developing a successful nutrition plan for yourself is to find a happy medium that you can live with. You'll have to make some sacrifices to develop a great body, but on the other hand, you shouldn't deprive yourself completely either. Let's face it, eating and drinking are two of life's greatest pleasures. If you try to be too strict by completely abstaining from alcohol, that might not be realistic; it depends on what your goals are and on how serious you are about achieving them. Most people just want to be fit and lean, not necessarily huge and "ripped" like a bodybuilder. If that's the case, then a drink or two won't slow your progress much. However, if you are serious about getting maximum results in the minimum amount of time, or if you are a competitive bodybuilder or athlete, then I would advise you not to drink at all.

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Prolonged usage at high doses will:

  • Reduces Your Strength - you won't be able to lift enough weight to stimulate muscle growth
  • Reduces Your Endurance
  • Decrease Your Recovery Capabilities - it will take you longer to recuperate and you will be much more sore after workouts
  • Decrease Your Aerobic Capacity
  • Reduces Your Ability to Metabolize Fat - you will become a fat "storer" instead of a fat "burner"
  • Interfere with Muscle Growth
  • Acts as a Diuretic - which can rebound and lead to elevated water retention

Breakdown of Alcohol Types

Alcohol contains calories (usually measured per 100 ml). Illustrated below is the calorie cost of some of the most popular tipples on our high street shelves.

Calories (100 ml)
Beer, Draught
Red wine
White wine, Dry
White win, Sweet
Liquor (Rum, Gin, Wiskey, or Vodka)

Drinks, their calories and what you'll need to do to burn it off!

We will work on the assumption that a typical man will drink 4 units of booze a day.

4 units = two pints of larger

This is equal to approximately 400 calories. In order to burn 400 calories an average man (170 lb.) would need to:

  • Weight train for over 90 minutes.
  • or Cycle at a moderate pace for 62 minutes.
  • or Jog for 45 minutes
  • or Walk for 75 minutes.
  • or Swim - Breaststroke - for over 50 minutes.

4 units = Two large glasses of red wine

This is equal to approximately 300 calories. In order to burn 300 calories, an average man (170 lb.) would need to:

  • Weight train for 75 minutes.
  • or Cycle at a moderate pace for 50 minutes.
  • or Jog for 35 minutes.
  • or Walk for 65 minutes.
  • or Swim for over 38 minutes.

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