Gosh… Drinking alcohol can be LOADS of fun but how much can it affect your Gym Goals?
I’d like to start with this Fact: You can drink alcohol on occasion, even weekly, and still make great progress in the Gym. Now, don’t use that as an excuse to pound a bottle tonight because all decisions do equate.
I’m going to skip repeating scientific data on this one and give you the Real. We all know alcohol dehydrates and can play a factor in hormones. But When and How does it actually affect Your Gains?
The amount of information we take in on a daily about Fitness is enormous. And to top it off, we now have “drink wine every day and lose weight” fads that add to the never ending state of confusion. People will inevitably be searching for the secret fuling these fads because some find it impossible to see the same principle in which drives your body to change is the same for success in literally anything: Hard Work
I’m going to break down how alcohol affects different goals…
Losing Fat & Alcohol Consumption
I feel like losing body fat and alcohol consumption are the least compatible of all goals. It’s actually pretty hard for your body to turn Alcohol into fat, but it does a fantastic job at halting Fat burning. Tracking Macros is essential for the majority of us for maximum Fat loss, and alcohol makes it tricky(er). We see things marketed like, “only 4 carbs…”, which confuses most people because they’re not taking into account the 7 calories per gram of alcohol. This leads many to over consume, and most lose the will-power of moderated eating when alcohol is in the system.
Gaining Muscle/Strength & Alcohol Consumption
To gain muscle you need two things over time: Resistance Training & Plentiful Food. Too much alcohol the day before you train can affect your intensity in the gym which will affect progress. So if you’re training and can actually tell you drank the day before, you went overboard. This amount changes person to person but my personal threshold is 3 drinks. Can you still gain muscle training hung over? Yes, but not as much as possible, and it’s not very fun. On top of affecting intensity, it can have a noticeable 24 hour effect on your diet as well. I know the nights that I drink too much, my diet is definitely affected that night, and the next day as well, which I have found common in most people.
One side note story about this… When I was 18-20 years old I drank, a lot. I’m downright embarrassed by this, but it was a regular thing to drink to the point of illness Friday & Saturday night nearly every week… However, when I was 20 years old I met my first serious training partner, Sam, and I vowed to myself that I would quit drinking for a couple months out of sheer instinct. My results were INSANE, and that summer I had put on 15 pounds of muscle, which was at a rate faster than I had ever gained before. So science aside, I’ve personally felt how excess alcohol can kill the Gains with building muscle.
Athletic Training & Alcohol Consumption
The effects with alcohol and performance have been touched on slightly, but athletic requirements vary so much from sport to sport that I felt it needed it’s own space. With any training, if you are working out and can tell you drank the day before, you went overboard. You may still train/play well, and a personal conversation you need to have to yourself is, “How important is this to me?”. If your sport is the most important thing in the world, then save the booze for the celebration. If you’re playing in your sand volleyball league where it’s more of a social event, it’s a different story. Sports where body composition is important like MMA or boxing, you may want to pay closer attention to your consumption to stay the closest to your in-season shape.
Bringing it all together…
So yes, alcohol can indeed be a part of your Fitness journey as long as it’s under control. However, if you’re shooting for the stars, it needs to be honed in on. Taking a break for a week or month may be a great idea if you feel it’s holding you back. I attest from taking 5-6 month breaks during Bodybuilding show preps from alcohol altogether makes my overall diet and training much easier to stick to.
Be honest about two things: “Am I making progress and do I believe alcohol is holding me back?”
With those things answered truthfully, you can now make a conscious sway to move you closer to who you want to be.
I know there are so many facts left out, but I wanted to avoid writing a book, and just dive into what happens with too much alcohol and Training for most of us. From the bottom of our hearts, Thank You for taking the time to read our work!
Badger Fitness – Madison Wisconsin