Will Alcohol KILL Your Gains?
Can you enjoy your alcoholic drinks on Fighterdiet?
I know you've seen the fitness models who drink vodka like it's water and still they sport a shredded body, but is that proof it's completely plausible to expect fat loss and muscle gains while drinking more than once every blue moon?
Well, first of all, it's always dose related. If you're a chronic alcohol addict you can expect those muscles to shrink and your liver to get fat, but what about the 'one drink a day' users?
There are several issues with alcohol
1. It contains almost as many calories per gram as pure fat but no healthy nutrients that help your body recover.
2. It puts your liver into overdrive to detox your body, and while that's being done you can pretty much say good bye to efficient fat burning.
3. When you drink alcohol your blood sugar spikes which means lots of insulin is released. Now, insulin shuts off fat burning, reduces growth hormone levels and after a spike you get a low unless you eat something. The food most drunk people choose are nachos or other high calorie foods, which pretty much destroys your regular fat loss menu, doesn't it.
4. In women alcohol consumption can increase estrogen levels and decreases your FSH and LH pulses. This is bad news for you who want to get pregnant. Higher estrogen levels might also lead to a higher breast cancer risk since high levels of estrogen is a risk factor.
5. In pre-menopausal women progesterone can decrease with alcohol consumption and more of your testosterone converts to estrogen. See how you can easily end up estrogen dominant which means a tough time to lose those pounds of flab...
6. It seems that alcohol interferes with your body's way of using calcium to keep your bones strong. If you want weak bones then yeah drinking is a good strategy.
What about the men?
1. Alcohol tends to lower the pituitary's signals to the testes to make testosterone.
2. It seems that alcohol can increase the release of growth hormone, however, I wonder if that's not due to the parallel spike in cortisol with alcohol consumption.
In both genders it seems that alcohol kills muscle satellite cells which help your muscles grow, expand and rebuild.
It seems that leptin levels increase with moderate alcohol consumption. Leptin is one of the hunger hormones which decrease when you get leaner making you hungrier and hungrier.
In lean athletes leptin is usually on the low side and in obese individuals you find leptin resistance. They have lots of leptin but their cells don't "hear" the message and leaves them hungry.
Some studies I've read has shown testosterone increases acutely after drinking, but remember that acute spiking of your hormones don't mean anything because they fluctuate constantly.
Another thing to consider is what happens if you get drunk and trip? A broken ankle can definitely set you back in the gym. And if you puke from being sick, all your food that you need to grow muscles and keep your metabolism running well is being wasted.
Fighter Diet CEO, Pavel Ythjall, drank whisky (1-2 drinks) during recovery to be able to sleep but have switched mostly to weed for health reasons. As Pauline writes "Whatever you do, pick your poisons! Only choose what you really really love and use it responsibly"
So, what do you do if you want to drink and not sabotage your fitness efforts?
Well, I advocate picking your poisons and not going overboard. If you need to keep your calories in range to result in fat loss then you should swap your carbs for alcohol when you must have that drink.
Alcohol will not make you recover faster and it will not help you get stronger. It will also potentially lead to malnutrition if you consistently swap nutritious foods for alcohol to match your calorie budget.
A few drinks now and then will not be detrimental per se, but what if you pick too many poisons?
Imagine this: you fail to eat enough protein daily, you get hung over and your workout intensity drops. Your fat burning capacity will be lowered and your liver will not be a happy camper like it is without alcohol. Then, add you eat a little cheat every day, maybe swapping your good food for french fries. And then you binge on the weekend with pizza and ice cream.
As you can see here, the scenario of adding too many poisons will lead to decreased results.
However, if you only drink two drinks a week and are meticulous with the rest, it will not harm your efforts in the gym.
So, do I personally drink? I would say once a year!
The reasons are many, but alcohol is not an anti-aging cure and not a poison I pick.
What about pot?
Marijuana has many good health benefits that help in several diseases and conditions. The drawback is the munchies most people experience. Add that to an already weak dietary discipline and you will see trouble.
Marijuana can actually help old people build bone, but in young individuals it has shown to have the opposite effect.
If you do choose pot as your poison... Make sure you don't smoke regular joints. I know the proponents say it has not the same toxins as tobacco, but I would believe inhaling anything into your lungs is not that good for you long term. A better option is vaporing.
Whatever you do, pick your poisons! Only choose what you really really love and use it responsibly.
Fighterdiet Challenge admission for our Spring Challenge is open!