Obviously drinking alcohol is bad for you.
It’s not the best thing after a workout, either.
Yet, it’s still common practice: We work, learn, exercise by day… & party at night.
And if we’re not getting shmammered downtown, then we’re marinating in the hooch at home.
This lifestyle doesn’t apply to everyone, but for most of us (athletes included), alcohol is our numero uno drug of choice.
While the occasional beer won’t kill us—even moderate drinking has its benefits—too much alcohol extends beyond the reliable hangover and can have serious effects on our fitness.
This is especially bad news for the bodybuilding bargoers as alcohol hits us right where it hurts: Our testosterone.
Combined Effects of Exercise & Alcohol on T
Perhaps the most important promoter of male muscle growth, testosterone facilitates our strength gains following a workout by:
Stimulating protein synthesis (anabolic effect)
Inhibiting protein degradation (anti-catabolic effect)
Resistance exercise has shown to elevate testosterone—and if we’re anything like hamsters, then animal research indicates that testosterone is linked with voluntary exercise (or scurrying on giant wheel runners).
While exercise increases testosterone, alcohol has the opposite effect:
- Acting directly on the testicles’ Leydig cells (T producers), alcohol inhibits the synthesis and release of testosterone into our bloodstream. Not only does this affect our workout recovery, but it diminishes our motivation for tomorrow’s lift.
During our drunkest moments, T levels can drop an average of 25% below normal. This has huge implications on how post-workout drinking can lower the bar on our manly potential.
The Booze Cruise from Mars to Venus
In addition to dropping your T count, alcohol further funks with your testosterone by converting it to estrogen. That’s right: ESTROGEN. While it’s not clear how much an effect moderate drinking has on this, chronic heavy drinking does promote the hormonal transformation. This explains why alcoholics often develop man boobs over their beer guts.
Protein & HGH
Too much alcohol can put your body in a catabolic state—tissues and compounds are broken down, rather than built up (anabolism). This runs counter to what we’re looking to accomplish through strength training: growing muscle and strength.
- The most powerful (natural) ways to boost protein and HGH are through exercise and sleep. Partying all night greatly diminishes your protein and HGH supplies, which are absolutely necessary during the 24-hour post-workout recovery time.
Exercise shreds muscle for your protein and HGH to reattach into stronger muscle. Alcohol overrides the recovery process.
Drinking a protein shake before hitting the bars can remedy this effect to a degree—but considering that alcohol also interferes with digestion, you won’t be getting as much bang-for-your-buck on your protein supplement.
Suddenly that Fuzzy Navel* just got a little more expensive… (*That’s right. Judge me.)
At this point, let’s take a moment to address the big, hairy elephant in the room:
Andre the Giant.
Standing at 7’4” and 550 lbs, the so-called 8th Wonder of the World Andre Roussimoff famously boozed his way through a prolific WWE career. Equal parts athlete and alcoholic, Andre built a legacy on his superhuman feats in and out of the ring:
- A fellow WWE wrestler claimed he witnessed the giant drink 156 beers in a single night, which was confirmed by other witnesses… That’s five 30-racks and a 6-pack… Lord have mercy on those urinals.
On a party night (basically every night), 99 bottles of beer on the wall wasn’t enough for the guy. However, for us mere mortals, any beer is enough to affect our health and manhood. Unless you’re a 7’4” giant with a furnace for a liver, mixing exercise with alcohol is completely inadvisable.
In general, drinking is just an unhealthy habit and best to avoid if you’re using that gym membership. Aside from obstructing your workout gains, alcohol kicks your brain, heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, shoulders, knees, and toes in the nuts as well… Ow. So put down that frosty beer, and look for a quality post-workout formula instead.