Drinking alcohol: How is it effecting my gains?

 *Disclaimer, if you are an actual bodybuilder or someone who plans on competing or looking your absolute best*. 

There is absolutely no reason for any sort of alcohol to be consumed regularly or even at all (my opinion) especially when dialing in to 3-4 weeks before the competition.

“ So in this dream I had” - back in my hayday I believed that alcohol had no calories and would not include any negative health benefits besides liver damage or impaired brain function. Well I was wrong. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, so typically one beer will have anywhere from 70 calories (light beer) to 150 calories. Wine will vary in the range of 100-130 calories per glass and liquor being 80-110 calories per shot. Well I didn’t know this…. Lol. So 8-9 beers to me would feel like nothing, I only assumed that the carbs from the beer would be stored and most beers have 8-15 grams of carbs. So to me that's all that mattered, I would just cut the carbs on the day of drinking and move on. Well I was wrong, i’ll get back to this again. So after I came to my senses that maybe beer and wine were not the best drinks to have because of my lack of knowledge in the subject I switched over to mostly drinking hard liquor. I said well since beer has carbs and wine is full of sugar, the reason I am getting fatter is because of these macronutrients. I was wrong! (Don’t worry we are gonna get to it), so I would go to the bars and drink liquor drinks, vodka sprites, and gin and tonics. Quickly I realized, I am still getting fatter after getting hammered. So I said ohh it's because of the chasers they are filled of calories as well! Well again I was wrong! I switched over to drinking only straight liquor and vodka waters! There we go there is no way this going to affect my gains other than make me hungover the next day because of dehydration, so all I have to do is drink a lot of water. Again I was wrong. But me being in college i didn’t care, being hammered was my religion right? Well yes, if I didn’t want to look my best and stay stagnant in my lifting program then that is fine. But over the months I discovered the reason why the majority of people (there is a few wild ones out there, still aren’t reaching their potential though) cannot drink excessively or even drink regularly and make good progress. So there are a plethora of reasons, the biggest one is that alcohol does have calories. And I didnt take it into account but if you drink alcohol to get (slightly) intoxicated which typically takes 3-5 shots, 5-7 beers, 4-6 glasses of wine (this is very very very very very liberal for the typical college student, in my personal experience it was more like 6-9 shots, 10-12 beers, 8-10 glasses of wine- ps I don’t drink wine) it can equate to an excess of 500 calories. If done 3 times a week or even over the weekend can equate anywhere from 1000-2000 calorie surpluses which may not seem a lot but remember 1 pound of fatty tissue equates to 3500 calories, furthemore this is a very liberal number of drinks which excludes calories from mixers such as sodas and fruity drinks… Well aside from calories which can build up over time, alcohol also inhibits any sort of metabolism of macronutrients when taken in.
When you drink alcohol, it cannot be stored so it goes into your bloodstream then is metabolized by the liver. However since it cannot be stored the body and roams in your bloodstream, any other macronutrients such as carbs and fats will be stored. They will be stored at a higher percentage as body fat because of the fact that alcohol can disrupt gene receptors, especially when present in large numbers, that would typically use these macro nutrients for other purposes such as energy or in process like being stored as muscle glycogen (carbs).  Now this might not be too big of a deal if you don’t have issues “burning fat” or have issues having excess body fat, but it is for women. Since women can’t burn fat as readily as men it should be noted that it could make them hold onto more stored fat from foods. Furthermore when alcohol flows through your bloodstream assuming you worked out prior to drinking or worked out the day before, drinking excess amounts of alcohol (more than 2-3 drinks) can actually disrupt/delay the repairment of these muscle cells by as much as a few hours. Now this might seem insignificant, but if you drink pretty regularly (more than once a week) it can start to stubble in on the gains you aren’t seeing. Also with disrupting MPS (muscle protein synthesis) alcohol in the blood and liver can also block the uptake of an anabolic amino acid called leucine (not really sure why it does this biologically, my assumption is that  unlike isoleucine that can use the pathway of carbohydrate metabolism, leucine can not, it can only use the fat based metabolic route. Since we know that fat is metabolized in the live the ethanol (alcohol) that is consumed can damage the mitochondria of the fatty acids, which if done repeatedly can damage the krebs cycle. Basically what I conclude happens happens is like I stated before the ethanol (alcohol) molecules esterify fat cells to create a surplus of fatty acids in the liver, and since the krebs cycle is disrupted, lipid (fat) oxidation (burning) is hindered) which  I have mentioned before releases, mTOR a protein kinase, that has a huge impact in repairing muscle due to its ability to produce growth factor in damaged muscle cells.
Further furthermore (lol), drinking consistent (3-4 drinking periods per week) of alcohol has shown to decrease levels of testosterone in men by significant percentages. Why does this happen? Do I really need to get into it? Well since alcohol is a depressant, and since we know when the body is in a depressed state metabolic stress is present. “Controlled depression” can raise cortisol levels which in turn has been proven to decrease testosterone by large numbers. Your balls slow down the levels of making testosterone since your cortisol levels are up hence you have less free roaming test. While this may only be significant in those who drink and get intoxicated frequently, it is something to think about. Also for women it's not that big of a deal (not saying girls can drink more than guys and get away with it. Because girls don’t produce nearly as much testosterone as men). Now I can go on and on about how alcohol disrupts sleep, inhibiting the release of IGF-1(insulin like growth factor) dehydrates muscle cells, ruins performance up to 2 days after etc. But I am going to leave it to that. Here are three main tips if you want to basically say F*** you Matt I wanna have a beer here and there. Don’t drink more often, but drink more heavily especially if you drink to get intoxicated. Now you might be saying how does this make any sense???? Well if you drink 3 times a week and get slightly drunk every time you do. It is way more beneficial to drink once a week and get drunk or even more than drunk. Why? Because I said. Moving on. Nah im playing, but the reason being is due to the fact that if you consistently intoxicate your liver whether that's at moderate levels vs 1 time high level your body will recover quicker from that one time stress rather than battling the extra 2 even if they are less stressful. Now obviously I would rather someone drink casually 1-2 drinks 3 times a week then splurging one day out the week, but if you plan on drinking more than even 2 drinks on multiple occasions, save it for one night in particular. Don’t add extra calories from mixers/ cheat foods after the bar or drinking, also stay away from fatty foods, stay more towards carb rich foods. So this is pretty straight forward, the more you eat the fatter you get. The more orange juice you add to your drink the fatter you get. But make it easy on your body, unless you really want to enjoy your drinks and savor those drinks, then stick to shots or low calorie chasers. Furthermore, when going to your favorite food place after your night out, try to make the foods carb rich vs fat rich (the best case scenario neither, make it protein rich). I know you don’t have a lot of options but instead of getting a burger with cheese and bacon, skip those and try to go with just a burger or maybe even a chicken sandwich. Lastly, be smart about when you drink, if you have a heavy workout the next day or feel extremely sore from a lift, maybe you shouldn’t be drinking that much. Its as simple as that, I recommend if your serious about lifting and being your best to limit your drinking to a couple times a month, maybe even once a month (yea right lol). But drinking more than once a week can have some big impact on your gains and can really throw away the results you have. If you are fine with having excess body fat or not being optimal then that's fine but remember alcohol will not help you in any way other than relieve stress ( which can be done in many other ways) so just remember that is going to hurt your progress. But you know I understand that people enjoy it and you shouldn’t stop it unless you feel like it's appropriate. But Matt what about weed, weed is good right??? No, I am not going to recommend marijuana like it's a magical drug in any sense (because it's not and has negative effects just like alcohol possibly equal to it (FOR SOME, don’t come at me pothead gym rats “bro weed is not a drug okay”)), but if anyone wants to know my opinion on recreational drugs and fitness (sorry it's going to be negative lol) then let me know but I think alcohol is a good start.

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