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Is Alcohol Off-Limits For Bodybuilders?

As bodybuilders what are the side effects of that additional drink? Will it hurt your athletic performance? We'll discuss what sports medicine says about alcohol's dramatic effects on bodybuilders.
Is Alcohol Off-Limits For Bodybuilders?
Photo by Edgar Chaparro / Unsplash

Being a bodybuilder requires a whole lot of dedication, discipline, and a serious commitment to living a healthy lifestyle. Alcohol's influence on your body's ability to stay at peak performance is a frequently discussed subject within the fitness community. In this article, we shall delve into the intricate ways in which alcohol impacts the human body, with a specific focus on its effects on the musculature, and ponder its compatibility with the esteemed lifestyle of a bodybuilder.

4: Short-term effects of drinking alcohol on muscle growth

  1. Diuretics like alcohol dehydrate the body by increasing urination. Working out with dehydrated muscles raises injury risk and lowers performance.
  2. After drinking, muscle recovery may take longer. Your body can't repair and build muscle without adequate, decent sleep.
  3. Alcohol's effects on motor skills and coordination reduce strength and stamina, compromising lifting technique and increasing injury risk.
  4. Beverages containing alcohol tend to be rich in empty calories, which may contribute to weight gain if they aren't included in a healthy diet.

3: Long-term effects of drinking alcohol on muscle growth

  1. Muscle atrophy occurs when muscle tissue wastes away, which may happen if you drink alcohol on a regular basis.
  2. Alcohol impairs nutritional absorption, reducing the positive effects of a healthy diet.
  3. Alcohol causes hormonal imbalances, inhibiting muscle-building hormones like testosterone.

Is it okay to drink alcohol as an athlete?

The answer to this question is going to be contingent on the objectives you want to accomplish as well as the way you will control your use of alcohol. Drinking alcohol sometimes and in moderation may not substantially impede your growth; nevertheless, drinking to excess or drinking alcohol often might have negative impacts on your progress.

The best alcoholic drinks for athletes

If you do decide to partake in alcoholic beverages as an athlete, choose beverages that have a lower total amount of sugar and fewer calories. In comparison to syrupy cocktails or hefty beers, clear spirits such as vodka, gin, or tequila mixed with soda water or other light mixers are the superior beverage options for athletes due to their low calorie count.

Is it okay to drink alcohol as an athlete?

Depending on your goals and how you manage alcohol consumption, occasional or moderate drinking may not significantly hinder your progress, but excessive or regular drinking can have detrimental effects. According to the NCAA Sports Science Institute, Alcohol abuse endangers an athlete's performance. Excessive drinking may impair balance, coordination, and response speed, and as we all can relate, increase your hunger. Loss of cognitive ability increases sports injury risk. Regular alcohol use impairs the immune system and hinders recovery. Athletes need calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and B vitamins, which consistent alcohol use frequently depletes.

Alcohol's diuretic effect accelerates dehydration, reducing athletic performance. Dehydration increases core temperature, heart rate, nausea, vomiting, and weariness, which may affect an athlete's performance. These side effects might result from a two- to three-percent water weight decrease. Dehydration and alcohol poisoning may cause a hangover, which reduces aerobic capacity by 11.4%.

How much should I drink as an athlete?

In my opinion, athletes should try and avoid alcohol, based on the science I've read. Alcohol use should be monitored by devoted athletes. However, if you just can't say no, then moderation is vital for a balanced and healthy lifestyle. If you are going to drink, the definition of moderate alcohol consumption is that your average female restricts herself to around one drink, while men should drink no more than two drinks a day.

On the other hand, heavy alcohol use, also known as chronic consumption, has been linked to a significantly higher risk of injuries and long-term health issues when individuals surpass the moderate drinking guidelines. This kind of alcohol consumption poses potential threats to health and overall performance and may be indicative of alcohol misuse.

Overindulgence in alcohol can be defined by several criteria:

  1. Consuming more than 14 drinks per week for men or 7 drinks per week for women
  2. Engaging in binge drinking is characterized by achieving a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. This typically involves consuming five or more drinks on a single occasion for men and four or more drinks on a single occasion for women, usually within about a two-hour period.

In cases where the weekly alcohol intake surpasses 15 drinks for men or 8 drinks for women, it can be considered excessive consumption. If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol abuse issue, consider calling the SAMHSA National Helpline for confidential, free help from a public health agent at 1-800-662-4357.

If you are reading this, I want you to take a moment to reflect on your fitness goals and consider the impact that alcohol may have on them. If you have an intense training period or competitions coming up, it would be wise to completely restrict your alcohol intake. Remember, making conscious choices aligned with your aspirations will help you stay on track and achieve the results you desire.

As we stated earlier, be mindful of the kinds of alcoholic beverages you choose to consume. Choose low-calorie alcoholic drinks so you don't put on the extra pounds. It's crucial to prioritize hydration and maintain a well-balanced nutrition plan. Did you know that alcohol has the power to throw your body's hormonal equilibrium off balance? It's true! Did you know that alcohol can mess with your hormones?

Alcohol’s effect on hormones

According to the National Institutes of Health, Alcohol decreases testosterone levels. Testosterone is not only important for building muscles but also for your overall well-being. So, think twice before you reach for that drink! Did you know that alcohol has a sneaky way of increasing our stress levels? When we indulge in a drink or two, our bodies release more of the stress hormone cortisol at the same time.

The delicate balance of hormones can have a profound impact on the development and rejuvenation of our muscles. Indulging in excessive alcohol consumption can really throw a wild party for your endocrine system. It's like inviting chaos to crash the hormonal dance floor, potentially causing some long-term abnormalities that bodybuilders definitely don't want on their guest list.

Did you know that bodybuilders have to be extra cautious when it comes to their alcohol intake? It's not just about having a good time, but also about how it can impact their hormone levels and throw off their carefully crafted workout routine. Maintaining that perfect hormonal balance is key for these muscle-bound individuals!

If you want to learn more about muscle growth and alcohol, here is a video I recommend by Jeff Cavaliere I found this video very helpful when doing research for this article:

My personal thoughts and experience

As a dedicated gym enthusiast and athlete, I've always found myself uninterested in the world of alcohol. Growing up in a family that didn't place much emphasis on drinking, I never quite grasped the allure and excitement surrounding it. At the ripe age of 23, I find myself indulging in the pleasures of a drink only on the rarest of occasions. From what I learned while writing this article, if you are going to consume alcohol, just remember to be aware of the short- and long-term impacts it can have on your muscles and general development.

Embracing a gym-rat lifestyle is all about finding balance, and that includes enjoying the occasional drink. However, it's important to be mindful of the potential pitfalls of excessive alcohol consumption.

Ah, the age-old wisdom of drinking responsibly.

This is not medical advice! Check our health and medical disclaimer for more details.