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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Hoang

Alcohol and Muscles: A Mix That May Not Mix Well

If you're someone who's aiming to build stronger muscles, there's a hidden factor that might be slowing down your progress – alcohol. While a casual drink here and there may seem harmless, alcohol can actually have a big impact on muscle growth. Here's how:

A guy lifting weights and drinking alcohol

Interrupting Muscle Growth:


When you work out, your muscles get tiny tears, but don’t worry, it’s a good thing! Your body repairs these tears and makes the muscles stronger through a process called Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS). However, if you drink alcohol, especially after working out, it can interrupt this process, making it harder for your muscles to grow bigger and stronger​1​​2​.


Hormone Trouble:

Our bodies have a hormone called testosterone that helps in building muscles. But when you drink alcohol, it lowers the level of testosterone and increases another hormone called cortisol which actually breaks down muscle. This can be a big hurdle if you're trying to gain muscle mass​3​​4​.


Protein Pathway Problems:

There’s a special protein called mTOR that gets activated when we do strength training, helping our muscles grow. But alcohol acts like a roadblock for mTOR, making it tough for the muscles to grow bigger and stronger​5​.


Post-Workout Pitfalls:

After a workout, your muscles are in repair mode and ready to grow. But if you have a drink, it can increase the breakdown of muscle protein, making it harder for the muscles to repair and grow​2​.


Metabolic Slowdown:

Alcohol can also slow down your metabolism, which is the rate at which your body burns calories. A slower metabolism makes it harder for your body to build muscle and burn fat​6​.


In conclusion, while an occasional drink might not throw your muscle-building efforts off track, making a habit of it could be a significant setback. Being aware of how alcohol interacts with your body's muscle-building mechanisms can help you make better decisions when it comes to balancing social outings with your fitness goals.

 

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