Alcohol And Bodybuilding
* This article is by no means an attempt to persuade individuals to use or abuse alcohol under no circumstances. It is merely a guide to help you understand the “do’s” and “don’ts” of alcohol consumption.
Alcohol, one of the oldest, most widely used drugs on the planet. Its considered one of the macronutrients yet is not taken into account as an essential part of the diet. This is because alcohol has several effects on the body, some good but for the most part bad and it is not essential for life.
Without knowing it, alcohol plays a big part in our lives. It serves as enjoyment for us and is widely used in social events like gathering with friends or family, a dinner with your significant other, parties, etc.
Between the benefits of alcohol are its salutary effects, such as thinning of the blood, which is beneficial to the heart. And maybe even your doctor at some point has recommended some type of alcohol consumption to you. But this “beneficial” amount of alcohol is very low, about a glass or two of wine, or maybe a couple of beers every now and then. Anything beyond that does more harm than good.
Alcohol as a macronutrient contains calories just like carbs, protein and fats. Each gram of alcohol contains 7 calories, making it more calorically dense per gram than protein and carbohydrates. Its thermic effect is around 20%; meaning only 80% of energy from alcohol is used as metabolizable energy for biochemical processes. The consumption of alcohol can be considered as “empty calories”, since it provides calories but no nutrients, and worse than that, it has detrimental effects in our body.
Many people tend to be concerned about the combination of alcohol and sports in general, because they are afraid that by getting into sports like bodybuilding they will have to quit alcohol entirely. And for a lot of people this sounds like the worst news ever.
There are several problems with alcohol consumption and bodybuilding (and all sports in general) because it can be seriously detrimental towards your progress; since it can interfere with recovery, protein synthesis, hydration and nutrient intake. Processes that are essential for bodybuilding.
Without proper recovery, hydration and protein synthesis what physique do you expect to build? And not only that, alcohol is considered a central nervous system depressant, which causes the brain to relax and decrease inhibitions. Alcohol impacts the cardiovascular system, disrupts sleep, causes vitamin and mineral depletion, depletes aerobic capacity, negatively impacts performance and inebriates the brain. And this is just to mention a few of the issues caused by alcohol consumption. Any look at the research and you will find that alcohol has a wide variety of detrimental effects on our entire body. Another problem that arises is what I call the “oh fuck it” effect that it has, you’ve probably been there before and you know what I mean. That moment when you’re dieting and maybe take a few too many shots of tequila, and just completely forget about your diet by eating and doing whatever you want without taking into account the consequences or its detriments on your bodybuilding or sport related goals.
It seems to be that alcohol and sports just don’t mix. Taking a few too many shots can not only cause an immediate negative impact but it also has a long lasting effect; with a hangover that can last even a few days. And on a side note… Never workout if you have a hang over! It can be extremely dangerous because you are dehydrated.
One thing is important to note. Most of the detrimental effects of alcohol consumption come from the constant abuse of it. As we’ve spoke before, everything in MODERATION can be included into your diet. If it’s a couple of beers with friends, or a glass of wine on a date its completely fine and can be included in your diet and even counted with your macros. What is detrimental is getting drunk, consuming alcohol too frequently, partying nonstop, etc.
If you are serious about making a change and building an amazing physique, I would advise you to stay away from that kind of consumption, because it can slow down or even completely hinder your progress, because alcohol literally suppresses fat oxidation and protein synthesis.
If the consumption of alcohol is in moderation and done only once in a while you can even count it within your macros. The only issue you will have is that calorie apps don’t count alcohol as a macronutrient. So if you were to add for example a glass of wine or a beer, you will notice that the app adds up the calories but few or none of the macros. This is because alcohol has 7 calories per gram but is not accounted for on the app and it will only add up calories, so it will create a disparity between the macro-calorie goals.
One way to include alcohol within your macros is by counting the calories as if they came from carbohydrates. This means that you will still prioritize your protein and fat intake, and the alcohol you consume can be accounted for as carbs. And remember to stay within your daily caloric requirements.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, leave a comment below!