It’s the question that every weekend warrior weightlifter and casual drinker that works out wants to know the answer to – “What are the effects of alcohol on weightlifting?” – What kind of results can you assume to achieve in the gym if you are regularly hitting the bottle and mixing both alcohol and weightlifting, the answer is… poor at best.
Alcohol has no nutritional value; in fact, it does a whole heck of a lot more harm than it does good. Alcohol and weightlifting just do not mix. Alcohol is more than just an empty calorie drink like soda (which you must avoid as well) it is responsible for a whole host of negative things in your body, especially when related to weightlifting.
Lets take a look at the effects of alcohol on weightlifting.
Effects of Alcohol on Weightlifting
Dehydration, and Hangovers
Let’s start with the most basic results from alcohol consumption – the ones that everyone who has had too much to drink can relate to. Overconsumption of alcohol makes you feel like garbage the day after – your head hurts, you’re lethargic, you feel queasy. You can forget about getting anything done, which means you’ll get no results – you won’t even be able to drag yourself to the gym.
If you do play the trooper and drag your body into the gym, you most likely won’t be able to perform with any level of intensity. Your body will potentially be severely dehydrated, and as soon as you begin any kind of intense physical activity, you will be forced to succumb to the cramping in the muscles that is common with dehydration, making your workout so short-lived that it will have amounted to little more than a waste of your time.
Sleep and Recovery
People often consume alcoholic beverages in the evening hours; most of the time the party continues well beyond what would be your regular bedtime. Once you do finally hit the hay, your sleep won’t nearly be of as good a quality as it would have if you’d gone to bed at a reasonable hour and sober. You’ll be tossing, turning and snoring through a less than restful remainder of the night.
Poor quality sleep severely inhibits the body’s ability to recover from the day and particularly from a training session. If your body can’t adequately recover from an intense training session then the results you see from your training will be minimal.
Many health and fitness experts say that proper recovery is just as remarkable as hard work and dedication in the gym. If you ruin your body’s ability to recover by consuming too much alcohol and getting low quality sleep, you’ll be destroying whatever chance you had of squeezing any results out of your training sessions.
Studies have shown that excessive alcohol consumption can increase a person’s appetite, this potentially wouldn’t be as big of a problem as it usually becomes but for the fact that the type of food traditionally consumed with alcohol. You never see a bunch of guys at a bar slugging down glass after glass of beer and eating a salad or boiled chicken breast along with it – the types of food that are usually consumed along with the alcohol are deeply fried and loaded with fat, holding almost as little nutritional value to the person eating it as the alcohol that’s washing it down.
A Decrease in Testosterone and Increased Cortisol Production
This is a big one – testosterone is a necessity if you want to build muscle and if you want to burn fat. If you want the best possible results from the hours of hard work you put in at the gym, then you want the highest levels of naturally produced testosterone in your body.
The decrease in production of testosterone, coupled with the increased production of cortisol, will have your lean muscle mass decreasing while your body stores even more fat – yielding very little in the way of results from even the most intense sessions in the gym.
Poor Protein Synthesis
In layman’s terms, the above means that high alcohol consumption inhibits your body’s ability to properly digest and use some types of protein. Another excellent reason why alcohol and weightlifting should not be mixed.
Protein is necessary to the building and recovery of muscles – without enough protein, your muscles will never reach their full potential even if they are worked sufficiently in the gym. Of course, all of the above scenarios are based on a subject who consumes an excess of alcohol, the results for someone who only drinks one six-ounce glass of wine once or twice per week certainly won’t be that drastic.
Got any proof to backup your claims?
Yes! You can check one of the several dozens of scientific studies regarding this subject!
So what’s there to take from all of this?
The fact of the matter is that alcohol just isn’t good for you – if you feel that you must do it or like it so much that you can’t help yourself on occasion – do it very sparingly, or your results in the gym and your overall health will suffer. There are alcohol proponents, that include some doctors and other respected medical professionals, that say that one glass of red wine a day is good for the heart, etc., but you’ll find that you can most likely get those same positives from a six ounce glass of grape juice and not have to worry about any of the adverse effects that can come along with the consumption of alcohol.
Every person is different; some subjects react much differently to alcohol consumption than do others. Some people can go out and have a few beers the night before a workout and show very little in the way of ill effects and in fact, show some positive results from an intense session, but these people would be the exception rather than the rule.
If you are truly serious about getting the best possible results from all of the hard work you put in at the gym, then you should eliminate alcohol from your diet. It’s often stated that moderation is the key, which would hold true for most situations including this one – one alcoholic beverage a week, even one alcoholic drink a night won’t destroy your body, but so few people are capable of actually doing things in moderation, so the best possible scenario to get the best results would be to avoid any consumption of alcohol to eliminate any possibility of its adverse effects and to avoid mixing alcohol and weightlifting, its merely a recipe for disaster.