Food for Thought: A Lifter's Guide to Alcohol

Are you coming to the anniversary party this Friday night?  Are you planning on getting a little hammered at the event?  Here are some excerpts from a recent T-Nation article about how alcohol affects your training.  It's all about educated decisions. 

Here's what you need to know...

  1. Booze isn't so much a fat storer as it is a fat burning suppressor.
  2. Heavy drinking has several mechanisms that will smash muscle protein synthesis and recovery from training.
  3. Athletes who drink post-competition don't seem to be all that impacted by it, as long as they take a couple of days off.
  4. The effects of alcohol depends a lot on what you drink (beer, wine or mixed drinks), how much, when, and what you eat with it.
  5. As long as you're not drinking yourself into a stupor nightly, your worries of man-boobs and shriveled testicles are likely overblown.

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Muscle, Body Fat and Performance

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To build muscle and burn fat you need to manage calories and hormones. Alcohol impacts both. When you drink you consume calories. And under certain conditions it can impact the hormones that help your body build muscle and stay lean. Alcohol also has its own effects as a cellular messenger and as such impacts brain chemistry and muscle cell signaling. And all this has an impact on building muscle, burning fat and performing at top level in sports.

Here's the part that's going to blow your mind. You may be able to use alcohol and still be able to get great results. That is, if you know how to use it and what you're using it for. If you're gonna drink - and you probably are - the goal is to do it with minimal impact on your physique or your performance.

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How Does Drinking Affect Performance?

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There are some general guidelines as it pertains to recovery from athletic events. It may shock you to learn that athletes who drink post-competition don't seem to be all that impacted by it. My favorite study on this was done on a bunch of rugby players. Rugby dudes just look like they can drink, don't they?

In this study, these guys drank on average 20 standard drinks. That's about 3g/kg or three times the amount we were talking about in the Barnes studies. In other words, these guys got trashed after their match. Guess what happened two days later when they showed up for practice? They performed at top level like nothing ever happened!

Based on this and a few other studies in the performance area, if your liver doesn't explode you'll probably be able to perform just fine after a few days. To be on the safe side though, I'd take those days off.

To read more about alcohol's impact on gaining muscle, losing fat, testosterone/estrogen/hgh/other hormone levels, as well as simple alcohol metabolism, check out the original article here.