Do Alcohol and Bodybuilding Mix?
One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to testosterone is: “Does alcohol decrease or hurt your testosterone levels?”
With all of the weight training, cardio workouts, and dieting that we do, there are times when we want to kick back and relax.
Much of the time this may include the desire for a few alcoholic beverages. Who doesn’t want to have a couple drinks every now and then?
For some, drinking alcohol is a social thing or maybe they just liked to have a few drinks on the weekend. Others may only drink alcohol on special occasions, which may be just a few times a year (vacation, special events, etc.).
And of course some people, even avid gym goers, may have alcohol several times a week (or even every night).
Obviously the latter could really impact your testosterone levels and muscle gains and fat loss even if there were no direct effect of your testosterone levels with drinking alcohol.
What Happens to Your Testosterone Levels When You Drink Alcohol?
Consuming alcohol excessively is linked to several heath problems, such as liver disease, but it also has a dramatic impact on sperm count and testosterone levels.
Heavy drinking prevents your body from producing free testosterone. This can also have a negative effect on your natural GH (growth hormone) levels.
Both hormones are needed to build muscle and shed body fat. If you hinder those hormones, you can pretty much forget having a lean and muscular physique.
Along with decreasing testosterone levels excessive drinking can also have an impact on estrogen, and it’s not going to be the impact you want.
Estrogen levels can actually increase with heavy drinking. This will kill your body’s ability to produce testosterone even more and can lead to a substantial increase in body fat.
Excessive drinking can also cause cell damage and oxidative damage.
8 Rules for Drinking Alcohol and Bodybuilding
It sounds like excessive alcohol is out of the question if you’re serious about bodybuilding and getting in shape. But does that mean you can’t drink at all?
Not really. There are some rules that may minimize the negative effects that alcohol has on testosterone.
- Do not under any circumstances drink alcohol excessively.
- Do not drink alcohol daily (one glass of red wine may be acceptable).
- Make sure you drink plenty of water when you drink alcohol (a good rule is one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume) – in other words, stay hydrated.
- Do not drink alcohol close to your training times (this may impact training intensity).
- Do not drink alcohol the day before an intense workout or performance (this may impact your energy and performance).
- Do not drink alcohol after your workout (this may impact recovery from your workout).
- Do not drink alcohol right before bed as this may impact quality sleep (passing out is not quality sleep).
- Do not drink mixed drinks with high sugar content.
Know When to Say When
If you’re competing in bodybuilding or any type of competitive event where your physique and/or performance has to be top notch, it’s best to stay away from alcohol all together, at least during you training period.
Most of us are not competitive athletes. And as much as we enjoy the benefits of keeping our bodies in shape and being healthy, we also want to be able to unwind, and that may include an occasional alcoholic beverage.
Whereas any intake of alcohol may decrease testosterone levels temporarily, here are some possible guidelines you may want to consider if you choose to drink alcohol:
Again, these are just a few rules for drinking alcohol that will help lessen the negative impacts to your testosterone and growth hormone levels.
Some people may have a glass of red wine daily for the heart health benefits. But if this impacts your training and recovery. But if you find your body isn’t responding well to that, you’ll have to choose between alcohol and optimal testosterone levels.
Is Alcohol Worth It?
Is it worth the risk of reducing testosterone and impacting your bodybuilding goals to drink alcohol? That’s only a question you can answer.
It all depends on what phase of training you’re in or if you’re preparing for some sort of physique competition or performance. It also depends on your current state of health.
If you’re overweight and looking to steadily cut body fat then alcohol is not your friend. If you have a tendency to drink excessively then you should probably stay away from alcohol.
However, if you’re happy with your physique, you’re in good health, and you’re not a heavy drinker, then having a few social drinks now and then probably won’t be so detrimental.
At the end of the day, only you can decide is alcohol is worth.