Who doesn’t love to have a few drinks now and then? Happy hour? Count me in. But the question is does drinking alcohol lower testosterone? How exactly does alcohol impact this hormone?
You do everything you can to keep your testosterone levels optimized. You eat right, train hard, and live a healthy lifestyle. But you also want to live and enjoy life.
In this post, I’m going to give you the effects (good and bad) that alcohol has on testosterone. I’m also going to give you my 8 Rules of Alcohol to help you minimize the effects it may have on lowering testosterone.
What Happens to Your Testosterone Levels When You Drink Alcohol?
I’m going to give you the downside to alcohol first. But hang in there. I’m going to share some helpful ‘rules of drinking‘ that you can follow after that.
We know that consuming alcohol excessively is linked to several health problems, such as liver disease. Drinking too much can also have a negative impact on sperm count and testosterone levels. The keyword phrase here is excessive drinking.
Heavy drinking prevents your body from producing free testosterone. This can also have a negative effect on your natural GH (growth hormone) levels. Yes, I know. A lot of negatives so far.
Both hormones (testosterone + GH) are needed to build lean muscle. Having elevated levels of testosterone and growth hormone also help your body burn fat more efficiently. If you hinder these hormones from being optimized, you can pretty much forget having a lean, muscular physique. At best, you’ll have a beer belly with skinny arms. Not cool.
Along with lowering testosterone, excessive drinking can also have an impact on estrogen. And it’s not going to be the impact you want. Think ‘man boobs.’ Again; not cool.
Heavy drinking can also raise estrogen levels. This will kill your body’s ability to produce testosterone leading to less muscle and increased visceral fat (aka blubber).
Excessive drinking can also cause cell damage and oxidative damage. This will decrease your ability to recover. This can also hinder your body’s ability to fight off disease and sickness.
Here’s a snapshot of the potential risks of excessive drinking:
- Lowers testosterone and GH
- Prevents your body’s ability to produce free testosterone
- Raises estrogen
- Reduces sperm count
- Can lead to health problems
- Can cause oxidative damage preventing recovery
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8 Rules for Drinking Alcohol that Minimizes Testosterone Reduction
Does drinking alcohol lower testosterone? We have a clear answer when it comes to excessive drinking. But does this mean you have to give up alcohol altogether?
Not necessarily. There are some rules that may minimize the negative effects that alcohol has on testosterone.
If you’re training for a competitive event, such as a race, performance sport, or bodybuilding, it’s best to stay away from alcohol. At least during your training.
However, most of us are not competitive athletes. And even if you are an athlete, you have an offseason. As much as we enjoy the benefits of keeping our bodies in shape and being healthy, we also want to be able to unwind. That may include an occasional alcoholic beverage.
It’s true that drinking alcohol can decrease testosterone levels. But it’s temporary. Here are my 8 rules of drinking alcohol to minimize testosterone reduction below:
8 Rules of Alcohol and Testosterone
- Do not drink alcohol excessively.
- Do not drink alcohol daily (although 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 two drinks.
- Do not drink alcohol around your workout times.
- Do not drink alcohol the day before an intense workout or performance.
- Do not drink alcohol right before bed (passing out is not quality sleep).
- Do not drink mixed drinks with high sugar content.
- Know when to say when.
Rule 1: Do Not Drink Alcohol Excessively
We know that there are some harsh implications of drinking excessively. In short, too much alcohol will indeed decrease your testosterone. So rule number one is simply, do not drink alcohol excessively.
This means you have to set some controls in your life. The next seven rules are going to help you decrease your alcohol intake. It’s all about setting reasonable standards for yourself.
Rule 2: Do Not Drink Alcohol Daily
Rule number two for drinking alcohol is similar to the first rule. There’s no reason why you should drink daily. This could kill your testosterone levels.
Alcohol is a depressant. Drinking daily could lead to things like depression or decrease your motivation. Do your best to refrain from drinking every day.
Rather, set aside one or two days a week that you have just a few drinks. Remember, it’s all about setting realistic goals and knowing where you want to be.
Rule 3: Stay Hydrated When Drinking Alcohol
This is probably one of the most crucial rules of drinking alcohol. Stay hydrated.
A personal rule that I follow is to have a glass of water for every two drinks. It’s not a bad idea to have water after every single drink.
Following this rule will help you avoid dehydration and prevent hangovers. It may also help you drink less.
Rule 4: Do Not Drink Alcohol Around Your Workout Times
Rule number four should be a no-brainer. You should never drink alcohol before or after a workout.
I shouldn’t have to mention the obvious risks of drinking before your workout. That would be just stupid. I also do not recommend drinking after a workout as this could impact your ability to recover.
Why throw away potential muscle gains and fat loss on drinking?
Rule 5: Do Not Drink Alcohol the Day Before an Intense Workout or Performance
Drinking alcohol the day before an intense workout or any type of event where you have to perform at your best is a bad idea.
Remember, alcohol can temporarily decrease testosterone and growth hormone levels.
You need these hormones to be optimal if you expect to do well. So ditch the alcohol the day prior to your grand performance.
Rule 6: Do Not Drink Alcohol Before Bedtime
You probably know someone that claims to sleep better when they have a few drinks prior to bedtime. But that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
If you’re drinking excessively before bed, you’re not getting quality sleep. This also has a direct impact on testosterone and growth hormone levels. Elevating those hormones requires deep sleep. Passing out isn’t quality sleep.
Rule 7: Do Not Mix Alcohol with Sugary Drinks
Want to decrease testosterone, gain more fat, and spike your insulin? Mixing alcohol with sugary drinks is a sure way to do all of those.
Many people like to mix juice or soda with their liquor drinks. If you can’t drink straight alcohol, then try mixing something that doesn’t contain unnatural sugars.
Rule 8: Know When to Say When
I recall an old Budweiser commercial from the early 90’s. Two men are drinking beer together and one apparently had a little too much. His buddy asks for his keys and he willingly hands them over. A short jingle plays with the lyrics ‘Friends know when to say when.’
This is a common-sense approach to drinking alcohol. Set limitations for yourself when it comes to drinking. Know thyself, and master the art of being in control at all times.
Beer vs Liquor
In reading this, you may be wondering which has the least negative impact on testosterone. Beer or liquor.
Depending on the type of beer you drink, beer typically has more calories than liquor. However, liquor has a higher alcohol content than beer.
You also have to take into account how you react to beer vs liquor. Liquor can bring out the worst in some people. If that’s the case, it’s best to stay away from it.
I’m personally a fan of craft beers and don’t drink liquor. Although once or twice a year, I may have a glass of scotch or whiskey. But I like the way beer makes me feel far more than drinking liquor.
I’m not recommending one over the other. It’s just my personal preference.
In any case, you have to know your limits and how you respond to certain types of alcohol.
How to Prevent Having a Drinking Problem
I’ve known many people that have struggled with excessive drinking. Many of these people were avid gym-goers with great physiques. In fact, I was one of these people before I learned to take control.
How do you overcome drinking too much? First of all, you do have to admit you have a problem. I know that’s an old saying but there’s no way around it. You have to acknowledge the issue so that you can address it.
It also helps you revert back to your goals. You know you want to gain lean muscle and drop fat. You want to optimize your testosterone levels. You want to be strong and have more energy. Being mindful of these goals will help get you back on track if you’re swaying.
And of course, follow my 8 rules of drinking alcohol above. I wrote those rules from my own personal experience and I know they will help you if you struggle with excessive drinking.
Don’t be afraid to get help if you have a drinking problem. There’s no shame in that. In fact, that’s a courageous act on your part.
Some can (and may need to) quit drinking completely. I’ve personally found that learning to control and reduce your alcohol intake can be effective.
Taking a natural testosterone booster may actually help reduce the cravings of alcohol because you’re providing your body the nutrients it needs to balance your hormones.
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Alcohol and Testosterone: Is Alcohol Worth It?
Does drinking alcohol lower testosterone? And is it worth the risk of reducing testosterone, which may impact your health and fitness goals?
That’s only a question you can answer. You have to assess where you are and where you want to be.
Will alcohol help you reach your goals faster or more efficiently (or at all)? Probably not. Does that mean you have to give up having a few drinks now and then? Probably not. The key is to drink in moderation.
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, in good health, and not a heavy drinker, then having a few drinks here and there shouldn’t have a detrimental impact. Assess where you’re at versus where you want to be. But be honest with yourself.
So does drinking alcohol lower testosterone? In excess, yes. But as we now know, there are ways to minimize the damage. At the end of the day, only you can decide if it’s worth it.
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- Does Alcohol Lower Testosterone? by (Augie) Juan Augustine Galindo Jr. MPAS, PA-C, Testosterone Centers of Texas, February 12, 2016: https://tctmed.com/does-alcohol-lower-testosterone/
- How to Stop Alcohol From Messing with Your Hormones by Alisa, FloLiving, September 6, 2015: https://www.floliving.com/how-to-stop-alcohol-from-messing-with-your-hormones/
- Why a Little Booze Each Day May Be Killing You by Peter Flax, Men’s Health, April 25, 2016: https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19519380/drinking-each-day-may-be-killing-you/
- What Science Really Says About Drinking Before Bed by Sarah DiGuilio, Huffing Post, October 3, 2016: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/drinking-before-bed-unhealthy_us_57eaf430e4b082aad9b7cbba
- Alcohol: If You Drink, Keep it Moderate by Mayo Clinic Staff, Mayo Clinic, August 30, 2016: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/alcohol/art-20044551