Find out how happy hour might not be making you as happy as you thought.

Let’s be honest, you’ve probably trained hard all week and decided to have a few drinks - all that hard work, there must be a reward, right? At the same time, you feel you aren't seeing the results you wanted even though you’re working out and eating right (for the most part). You begin to question everything about your training, including your diet. Chances are what is hurting you is alcohol consumption or the timing of your drinking. Here are ways in which alcohol affects your body and your training:

In a study conducted in 1999, it was found that alcohol reduces muscle mass by blocking protein synthesis. Further research showed meals that were consumed within 24-48 hours after a resistance training session had the greatest effect on growing muscles. We're not just talking about huge muscles, we're talking about lean muscle. It's a cause and effect chain. The muscle growth increases metabolism which then affects fat loss. Using all of this information, we can see that having alcohol on training days greatly affects your muscle growth and inhibits the hard work you have put in for that day.

If you must have a drink, it should never be on a training day.

Research has also shown that alcohol reduces testosterone levels. Testosterone is needed for protein synthesis, increased muscle mass, strength, muscle growth and bone density. From this, we can conclude that we need a lot of testosterone.

In some ways, drinking alcohol is taking steps backward from your goals and hindering your growth.

A study conducted in 2004 found that the subjects that consumed alcohol had lower testosterone levels than those that did not. As alcohol lowers testosterone, it produces estrogen which in turn affects muscle growth goals.

Lastly, studies have found alcohol suppresses growth hormone. Growth hormone helps with protein synthesis, meaning that it is essential to building muscle, and it also releases at its maximum during sleeping.

If you are focusing on muscle gains and on a new program, then restricting alcohol for a few months is the best method. On the other hand, if you are used to the training, going out occasionally won't hurt much. Although, one should stay away from binge drinking as it will have negative effects on muscle growth.

If you are going to drink alcohol in moderation, here are some tips to maximize your gains:

  • Try to stay hydrated! Try drinking a few cups of water while you are drinking and be sure to consume a full glass of water  before bed.
  • If you are going out to enjoy yourself try eating a slow digesting protein like steak to keep the muscles fed and a slow carb like sweet potatoes to keep your energy level up.
  • Ultimately, just make sure you remember alcohol's negative effects on protein synthesis, testosterone, and growth hormone.
  • Always avoid drinking on days you train if you are seeking muscle gains as muscles need nutrition and rest. Drink on your off days away from the gym, but stay away from training the day after drinking because it has ill effects as well.




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