The Truth About Alcohol, Muscle Growth, and Weight Loss

training-601214_1280 (1)I’ve been receiving many questions regarding the effects of alcohol on muscle growth and weight loss lately. I think this is a great topic to write today, to clear all the doubts and to answer all of your questions relating to alcohol consumption and fat loss. So let’s start on this topic.

What is Alcohol Drinking?

Many studies consider alcohol to be about 15 g of ethanol alcohol. However, this is just a general guideline as some drinks are stronger than others.

FACT OR MYTH: Every alcohol you drink count as 7.1 calories…MYTH!

It’s actually around 5.7 kcal. Why? Let me explain as we move forward.


Alcohol and Thermogenesis

Yes, there’s an ongoing debate for a couple of years now whether alcohol’s calories REALLY COUNT or NOT. We all know mainstream medias and other “fitness experts” claimed that alcohol counts. However, this debate has been stimulated by the fact that drinkers actually weigh less than non-drinkers

How does this happen? Well, considering alcohol is HUGE in terms of energy density per gram. It’s because the real value of alcohol calories is different than its expected value. As discussed earlier, alcohol is labeled 7.1 calories per gram, but the REAL VALUE is around 5.7 calories due to TEF or thermic effect of food.

Alcohol and Fats

In order to discuss this properly, let’s review first how nutrients are burned and stored after meals.

Once you ate, protein and carbs suppress fat oxidation, causing insulin elevation. Since your body had a suppress fat oxidation, dietary fat is stored inside the fat cells. After awhile, insulin begins to drop, releasing fat from the fat cells.

But once we drink alcohol, this put breaks on fat oxidation and also SUPPRESSES protein and carb oxidation. On other words, acetate (metabolic by-product of alcohol), is an extremely poor precursor of fat synthesis. 

Alcohol, Trainings, and Hormones

Alcohol consumption can lower testosterone levels. No doubt. While this is a fact, the actual impact has actually been EXAGGERATED! A 2004 research study investigated the effect of MODERATE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION on testosterone levels. A group of men and women consumed 30 to 40 g of alcohol each day. The results of study shown ONLY 6.8 % reduction in testosterone levels. On other words, in order to significantly lower the testosterone levels, you must drink a lot. I mean a lot, around 10 beers (120 g). This may lower testosterone levels as much as 20%.

There is only a handful of studies that discusses the effects of alcohol drinking in the post-workout period. But when in comes to moderate alcohol consumption, studies have shown that drinking alcohol moderately DOES NOT affect muscle strength and accelerate exercise-induced muscle damage

So in Summary…

Counting per calories, the short-term effect of alcohol consumption on satiety is low. Moreover, intoxication may also stimulate overeating by disinhibition of dietary restraint. So, what is the thermic effect of alcohol? Well, the real caloric value is not 7.1 calories, it’s actually around 5.7 kcal. However, it’s still so easy to over-consumed calories by drinking alone.

What about alcohol on testosterone? Well, the negative effects of alcohol consumption on testosterone levels and recovery have been EXAGGERATED by mainstream media today. Excluding chronic, or daily, and very high alcohol consumption, the effect is usually NON-SIGNIFICANT and UNLIKELY to affect muscle growths negatively. Moreover, the effects of alcohol consumption on muscle protein synthesis are STILL UNKOWN in normal human subjects.

For fats and weight loss, it is important to note that alcohol is converted to acetate by our own liver. The acetate compound is oxidized to water and carbon dioxide. However, although it is a potent inhibitor of lipolysis, alcohol alone CANNOT increase fat mass by itself. It’s ALL THE JUNK you eat in addition with your alcohol consumption that causes fat gain.

So what’s your stand on drinking and muscle growth? Let me know in the comments below!

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