The non-alcoholic beer after training is particularly popular with endurance athletes. But what about alcohol and muscle growth? We explain how alcohol affects muscle growth and how you can still reach for a glass.
Whether strength or endurance – training aims to make the muscles fitter. Unfortunately, all the scientific facts suggest that alcohol stands in the way of muscle building.
Researchers found that even small amounts of alcohol greatly reduce athletic performance. This is mainly due to the fact that alcohol hinders regeneration and thus muscle building on a biochemical level.
Alcohol inhibits the release of growth hormones
Alcohol lowers testosterone levels. Testosterone is significantly involved in natural anabolic (muscle building) processes. This effect is largely responsible for the fact that alcohol prevents muscle growth.
Alcohol inhibits the absorption of vital substances and the replenishment of glycogen stores
Potassium is essential for replenishing glycogen stores. Although beer provides potassium and other important vital substances, alcohol prevents the body from absorbing them properly and using them for regeneration. This effect results from the many different influences of alcohol on the body, which we describe below.
Alcohol removes water from the body
This carries the risk of dehydration, makes it difficult to break down pollutants and prevents the muscles from receiving sufficient nutrients. Without nutrients, the muscle does not have enough energy to grow, recover quickly after exercise, and break down lactate.
Alcohol dilates the blood vessels
The widening of blood vessels caused by alcohol causes the body to cool down. So it needs more energy to maintain its normal temperature. This energy is missing during regeneration.
Alcohol increases the secretion of cortisol
Cortisol is a stress hormone that has a catabolic effect, i.e. it breaks down muscles. The anabolic effects caused by exercise are reversed – alcohol effectively prevents muscle building.
In addition, cortisol reduces the function of the immune system. The body, which is already weakened immediately after exercise, becomes even more susceptible to infections when alcohol comes into play.
Alcohol makes sleep worse
During sleep, pollutants are broken down and muscles are built up. The more exercise you do, the more time your body will need to rest completely to recover. Sleep is sacred. Everything that bothers it should be avoided.
Alcohol makes you fat
For one thing, alcohol is high in calories and excess calories are stored as fat. On the other hand, alcohol is converted in the liver into acetate, individual components of acetic acid. The body now first uses acetate instead of fats to generate energy. During this process, the liver itself produces more unhealthy fats.
How to grow muscles in the right way
As you can see, alcohol doesn’t help build muscle. But what helps is the right diet. In order to build muscle mass effectively and in the long term, it is important that you pay attention to your protein intake. Because protein is the number 1 muscle fuel.
Whether it’s a creamy protein shake after a hard workout or a fluffy protein bread with avocado and cottage cheese for breakfast – it can supplement your muscle growth.
Alcohol has a lasting negative effect on muscle building and performance
The effects of alcohol can show up in exercise for several days. New Zealand scientists found in studies that alcohol reduces muscle growth and muscle strength over several days.
Athletes recorded up to 50% less muscular performance 2-3 days after moderate alcohol consumption. This, in turn, can have mental effects: the less performance, the worse the training, the less fun and motivation.
Alcohol and Sports - The Best Time to Toast
No alcohol is theoretically best for building muscle and exercising. Sometimes not entirely practicable in practice. If you want to drink, choose a day without training, on which the last intensive session was 3-4 days ago and the next one should not take place in the morning.
It doesn’t always have to be an either / or: especially when it comes to toasting or simply socializing, non-alcoholic sparkling wine and non-alcoholic beer are good alternatives. Feels like real beer, avoids annoying questions and is good for your performance. Fitness the next morning included.
Yet an occasional alcoholic drink won’t ruin your athletic career. Keeping things moderate is the motto. And better more than less of it.
- Alcohol hinders muscle building and regeneration.
- Alcohol and exercise do not go together.
- If you want to drink, avoid intense workouts two days before and after. Then rather train a regeneration unit.
- Beer is a valuable sports drink – as long as it is alcohol-free.
- Non-alcoholic beers, wines and sparkling wine are perfect for social occasions.
- The less alcohol the better.