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There are many reasons to keep an eye on your alcohol consumption or indeed give up the booze altogether, particularly If you are serious about your building muscle goals. If you’re not sure about the effect on muscle that alcohol can have and whether giving it up is necessary at all, keep reading so that you might make an informed choice.

Alcohol and Muscle

If you are someone who enjoys a night out of a weekend, a few drinking, a glass or three of something at home, you need to think about how this habit is affecting your ability to stay lean and to build the muscular frame you’ve been working towards.

This isn’t another “all alcohol is bad for you” article, you can look up and read the research yourself, this is a piece about alcohol and your individual training plan. What I will say is that drinking excessively, be it regularly or occasionally is not conducive with a successful fitness plan for a number of reasons.

Growth Hormones and Alcohol

Alcohol can effectively stunt the release of growth hormones, the opposite of which is something we strive for when training hard. It’s the growth hormones that work to activate and encourage muscle growth and help you create increased strength and a bigger (but healthier) body. Growth hormones are also known to have an effect on your longevity, so not something you want to see stunted.

A lot of your growth hormones, according to studies, are released at night time and so if you drink alcohol at night / during the evening you will effectively halt or significantly reduce the production of these all-important hormones which will hinder your healthy bone growth as well as other key factors, not least muscle building.

I don’t suggest of course that you start drinking in the day, rather that if you must drink, that you do it very much in moderation.

The All Important Testosterone

Anyone in training will already have a good idea about the importance of testosterone when it comes to building a lean and muscular body that is healthy and strong. What few realise is that alcohol can significantly lessen the amount of testosterone in your body. This is because your liver, when you drink, produces a chemical which stunts testosterone release.

For men particularly this can be a big deal so you need to decide if whether drinking alcohol when training is worth it. You might think that if you train harder that you can counter the alcohol issue however as the changes to hormones and what not happen on a cellular level this is often not the case. The damage, so to speak, is done and only not drinking alcohol is the way to move forward without being affected by these little-known side effects.


“Always drink a pint of water when you go to bed after a night out drinking” is common advice and it stems from the fact that alcohol can dehydrate you with ease. You pass urine more when you drink and for those in training, when you are dehydrated and your body is pushing out alcohol it also reduces your lactic acid levels so you will struggle to recover or recover or recover more slowly during your next workouts.

Again, staying hydrated is of keen importance, firstly because your body needs it, and dehydration can have some nasty effects but also because when you’ve had a drink and are dehydrated you often turn to food for “relief” which is why the town Pizza Shop looks so good after a few beers.

Alcohol Helps Build Body Fat

As well as the extra calories you might take on during alcohol-fuelled hunger, alcohol in itself Is packed with empty calories. Not only are these calories empty, they come mostly from sugar, will spike your blood sugar and your liver will see this blood spike as an issue and start storing sugar as fat to guard against calorie deficit.

The body is a hive of chemical reactions and your body does react to alcohol, often producing what it feels are protective body fat stores, not ideal when you are trying to stay lean and build muscle!

In Summary

Clearly being in training and working towards your goals is not helped by the intake of alcohol. For this very reason, many athletes avoid alcohol altogether. I’m not telling you that you must do that however, be aware of the effect it will no doubt have on your success and make drinking choices accordingly. Don’t binge drink, drink in moderation and not so frequently. Stay hydrated and make your alcohol free times span longer than your drinking times, giving your body a chance to work at its best, for you to sleep properly and for your growth hormone production to continue to work as best it can.