The effect of alcohol on muscles

Image by Lothar Dieterich from Pixabay

Each athlete must remember that alcohol in any form and in any quantities on the strength indicators and muscle growth always acts negatively. A single alcohol consumption, even about the degree of slight intoxication, is equivalent in effect to missing your 1st workout in your muscles. Severe alcohol intoxication corresponds to missing one to two weeks of training.

The systematic consumption of alcohol, even in “small” quantities (0.5 liters of beer every other day) inevitably leads to stagnation and a decrease in muscle growth. To confirm the above theses, below we give the physiological mechanisms of the influence of alcohol on muscles with links to various scientific studies.

  1. Alcohol inhibits muscle protein synthesis. It is known that protein synthesis is a process of joining a certain sequence of amino acids. Alcohol consumption slows down this process by about 20 percent, due to the release of the hormone cortisol. A study in which eight healthy men were tested after a single dose of alcohol (1.75 g per kg. Bodyweight) revealed a significant decrease in testosterone plus an increase in cortisol.
  2. Alcohol lowers growth hormone levels. In the next study, it was shown that alcohol inhibits muscle tissue growth by inhibiting the secretion of insulin-like growth factor GF-I, and with it growth hormone. Their level decreases over the next 2 days by about 70 percent.
  3. Alcohol lowers testosterone levels, increases estrogen levels. This process occurs for several reasons. Firstly, due to the increase in the number of proteins that testosterone binds. Secondly, the conversion of testosterone to estrogen (female hormone) begins to accelerate. Thirdly, some of the spirits (mainly beer) contain estrogen-like substances. And fourthly, alcohol and alcohol metabolites themselves are able to stimulate estrogen receptors. Because of this, many alcoholics can see signs of gynecomastia – an enlargement of the breast along with hypertrophy of the glands and adipose tissues.
  4. Alcohol causes dehydration. Drinking alcohol is accompanied by intensive secretion of fluid by the kidneys, which leads to dehydration. And at the same time, we know that water plays a crucial role in building muscles, and when it is lacking, muscle growth begins to stop, and in severe cases, muscle destruction begins. Even such drinks in which a low alcohol content (4%) can damage the muscles, reduce the speed of their recovery, due to dehydration.
  5. Drinking alcohol leads to the depletion of minerals and vitamins. When drinking alcohol, there is a deficiency of vitamin C, A, almost all B vitamins, phosphates, zinc, and calcium. These minerals and vitamins play a very important role in bodybuilding, as they are all necessary for the synthesis of endogenous anabolic hormones and muscle building.
  6. Fat formation Alcohol is a fairly high-calorie compound, 1 gram of it contains 7 calories, which is much more than carbohydrates and protein. In addition, alcohol disrupts the function of the Krebs cycle (this is a system of biochemical reactions by which most Eukaryotic organisms take the main energy as a result of oxidation of food), which plays a very important role in the destruction of fats. American Journal of Clinical Research found that 24 grams of alcohol reduced fat oxidation by 73 percent. Thus, the bulk of the energy of alcohol will go into fats.
  7. Sleep disturbance Alcohol consumption causes sleep disturbance, disrupting the sequence of its fast and slow phases, which reduces the recovery function of sleep on the muscles.

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