Does alcohol kill your gains?

Does Alcohol Kill Your Gains?

Does alcohol kill your gains?

In the following article we dive into the science around alcohol and recovery, and highlight how much it impacts your progress.

By Coach Hunter Bennett

Does alcohol kill your gains?

Does alcohol kill your gains?

Fortunately, there is research that has examined this topic in detail, and it shows the extent that alcohol impacts your gym gains is largely related to how much you drink after training.

Research (here and here) has shown that consuming high amounts of alcohol – around 1.4 to 1.5 grams per kilogram (equivalent of 12 standard drinks for an 80-kilogram individual) – within four hours after a workout is likely to have a negative impact.

This level of alcohol intake reduces testosterone, elevates cortisol, and blunts muscle protein synthesis (the process by which your body repairs and grows muscle tissue).

Put simply, downing ten beers immediately after training might hinder your results (although some gains will still be made).

However, these negative effects do not seem to occur when alcohol consumption is kept within moderate levels of around 0.7 to 0.8 grams of alcohol per kilogram of body weight.

For an 80-kilogram individual, this translates to around 5-6 standard drinks.

So, if you’ve had a solid workout and want a celebratory drink, its unlikely to impact your progress.

One important consideration here is that most of the research to date has looked at what occurs when alcohol is consumed in the four hours immediately after training. It is likely that if you train in the morning and then drink that night that the negative effects would be reduced even further.

What about performing exercise with a hangover?

Does alcohol kill your gains?

But what about training with a hangover?

There is evidence suggesting that a hangover can impair reaction time and slightly reduce force output. This implies that your ability to execute a high-quality training session might be compromised when you are hungover.

However, it also suggests that it is unlikely to hinder your body’s ability to adapt and make gains from that training session. In essence, while training hungover might not make for a great workout, it won’t ruin your long-term progress.

Does alcohol ruin weight loss?

One final area that is particularly relevant when discussing alcohol and training progress is related to alcohol and weight loss.

If you are currently in phase of training where losing ft is your primary goal, then avoiding excessive alcohol intake is probably a good idea.

First and foremost, alcohol is quite energy dense, providing 7 calories per gram. This means that having even a couple of drinks can greatly increase your risk of over consuming calories on any given day.

Secondly, when you have consumed a lot of alcohol, there is a general tendency to make poor choices, especially when it comes to food (McDonald’s on the way home, anyone?). As a result, regular excessive alcohol consumption can further increase your daily calorie intake by making it easier to eat energy dense foods.

This likely explains why high alcohol intakes have been shown to make weight-loss interventions less effective in the research.

So, if your goal is to get as big and strong as humanly possible, a few drinks probably won’t hurt your progress.

But if your goal is to get as lean as possible, then they might.

Does alcohol kill your gains: take home message

The impact of alcohol on gym gains is nuanced.

While excessive post-training drinking may have negative impacts, moderate alcohol consumption is unlikely to impair your gym gains. Moreover, while training hungover might make for an unpleasant time, it’s unlikely to harm your long -term progress.

All of which is to say if you want to have a coupe of drinks after exercise, you should be fine to do so (just don’t overdo it).

And if your goal is weight loss related, it might be best to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.

Want to read more? Check out our article is 6 hours of sleep enough to build muscle

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