The Dark Side of Alcohol: How It Stunts Muscle Gain

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you’re looking to put on muscle, you know that it’s important to eat well and exercise regularly. But if you’re also a social drinker, it can be tempting to get plastered every once in awhile and throw your healthy routine out the window.

While drinking every now and then won’t have major impacts on your body composition, doing it too often can seriously hinder your efforts to build muscle and make gains in the gym.

Alcohol Reduces Testosterone Levels

Drinking alcohol inhibits testosterone production in the body, which can stunt muscle growth. Even though alcohol may help you sleep at night, it will reduce your testosterone levels and make it harder to build muscle in the day. The more alcohol consumed, the more testosterone is inhibited.

This is a big reason why younger people are told not to drink excessively since they’re building muscle mass and their bodies are growing. Drinking too much may lead to stunted growth and less muscle mass down the road.

Alcohol Increases Estrogen Levels

Alcohol doesn’t just negatively impact your muscle gain—it also increases estrogen levels in men. This, in turn, reduces the production of testosterone. And testosterone is the hormone that tells the body to make more muscle protein. In other words, alcohol could be one reason why you’ve been having such a tough time building muscle despite eating right and exercising regularly.

Alcohol Lowers Protein Synthesis

Excessive alcohol consumption can lower the protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process by which cells build proteins from amino acids and it’s essential for muscle growth, repair, and maintenance. Protein synthesis is influenced by many factors including sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.

Alcohol consumption increases estrogen levels and lowers testosterone levels in both males and females. For men, this means that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a decrease in muscle mass as well as an increased risk for fat gain around the abdomen, also known as visceral fat. For women, excessive alcohol consumption leads to weight gain more so than muscle loss because there is no corresponding increase in estrogen levels.

Alcohol Dehydrates the Body

A common misconception is that alcohol dehydrates the body. While this may be true, dehydration is only one of the negative effects that alcohol has on muscle gain. In fact, there are two main ways in which alcohol can interfere with your ability to build muscle mass. The first way is by inhibiting protein synthesis and the second is by disrupting sleep cycles.

There are several theories as to why alcohol impedes protein synthesis. One theory is that it increases the levels of cortisol, a hormone known for its catabolic effect on muscle tissue. Another theory says that it disrupts our insulin levels and thereby inhibits anabolic activity within our muscles. Either way, drinking alcohol can have a very serious impact on the amount of muscle you gain if you drink too much too often.

Alcohol Increases Inflammation

Alcohol can make it difficult to sleep, which can hamper muscle recovery. Plus, inflammation is one of the body’s natural responses to injury or infection. If you drink alcohol and it causes an increase in inflammation in your body, that could be a setback for your muscle gain goals. You’ll have trouble recovering from workouts if your muscles are inflamed and you won’t see the results you want.