Most of us enjoy a drink or two, especially at Birthdays, Christmas and New Year. We have worked hard all year and just want to put our feet up, kick back, relax, and enjoy.
The last thing that you might be thinking about as you enjoy that beer or glass of wine is your testosterone levels and muscle mass. And why should you?
The fact is that drinking can have an effect on your testosterone levels and by default can effect those hard earned gains that you have worked so hard to achieve.
This article looks into the relationship between Alcohol and Testosterone.
I will cover 3 questions –
- What Are The Effects Of Alcohol
- Does Alcohol Harm Muscle Building And Endurance
- Could Drinking Alcohol Actually Boost Testosterone After Strength Training
What Will I Learn
The Effects Of Alcohol
Alcohol is an effective depressant, it slows and reduces your bodily functions and reactions, this is why we feel so relaxed after a couple of drinks. The chief compound responsible for its depressive effects is Ethyl Alcohol – AKA Ethanol.
When taken to excess, Ethanol can be toxic to the human body, in smaller amounts it provides that relaxing effect. Our body however doesn’t actually like alcohol and it prioritises its metabolism over other nutrients such as carbohydrates ( in other words it tries to process and get rid of it above anything else).
It is also very high in calories – just 1g of Ethanol delivers 7 Kilocalories. That is more than you would get from a gram of carbohydrate or protein and only slightly less than the amount you would get from a gram of fat.
Drinking A Little Could Boost Your Health
It has been shown that despite its possible toxicity in large amounts, a little bit of Ethanol could actually offer health benefits.
Small amounts of alcohol have been shown to promote cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of diabetes and even help reduce the possibility of developing dementia.
A natural phenol found in grapes and red wine called Resveratrol has actually been shown to have positive effects on testosterone production in some cases. So it appears that an occasional glass of red wine wont do us any harm from time to time.
But what about drinking on a regular basis? Does it put your androgen production at risk?
Lets find out…..
Testosterone And Alcohol
When taken to excess, Ethanol is actually toxic to the testicles, it can reduce testosterone production, reduce sperm count and can actually cause the testicles to shrink.
Studies have shown that chronic drinking can actually reduce testosterone:
Study 1 – Published in the rather aptly titled journal Alcohol, researchers followed a small group of 8 healthy men as they drank 1.75g of Ethanol per KG of bodyweight .
This is enough to give you a serious headache the morning after.
The men were checked and their testosterone production monitored over the following 24 hrs after the drinking session ended.
Testosterone was noticeably reduced some 12 hours after the drinking session, and it still remained below baseline normal levels after 24 hours.
Study 2 – This study followed a similar procedure, the test subjects were asked to get drunk for scientific purposes ( difficult job eh? )
From the moment they became intoxicated right though until all the alcohol had been cleared from the body, their testosterone levels were dramatically diminished.
“Fact – Drinking to excess will reduce testosterone production until the alcohol has been metabolised from your body”
Drinking After An Intense Workout
You have has a really good hard workout and now fancy dropping off at the local bar for a beer or 2.
But is a drink after exercise really that bad?
It might actually increase your testosterone production……
Say it again?
Clinical research has shown that drinking up to 1.09g of Ethanol per KG of bodyweight boosted testosterone by 22.5nmol.L when compared to men who didn’t have a drink after exercise only saw improvement of around 13.9n.mol.L.
“So I should go out and get drunk after every workout??”
Not at all.. the searchers concluded that while there was a definite increase in testosterone production ( common after any heavy weights session) they discovered that the alcohol in the blood actually destroyed the receptors that attract testosterone. Basically more testosterone was left in the blood, being unable to attach itself to receptors and as a result, being unable to get to work.
So these results are kind of misleading – Yes testosterone was increased in the short term, but it was rendered useless by the alcohol that destroyed its ability to attach and actually provide its androgen effect.
Not only does excessive alcohol intake reduce testosterone production, it can reduce physical performance too – In fact anything from cardia endurance to muscle growth
It Slows Down Glycogen Uptake
When you are training, be it to improve endurance or build muscles, you do not need low glycogen synthesis. As your body gives priority to metabolising the ethanol above glycogen, you cannot get sufficient amounts of carbohydrates into your muscle quick enough.
This will led to reduced performance and a slower recovery too.
Alcohol Slows Muscle Building
The ethanol in the drink thats e have enjoyed so much has several ways in that it can effect the key way that the body builds new muscle cells – by protein synthesis.
- It increases levels of the muscle inhibiting protein called myostatin. Elevated amounts of this in the blood will out a direct stop on muscle building.
- Ethanol can reduce the effect of post exercise inflammation. This is a potent trigger for a number of hormonal responses including IGF-1 and mToR that promote muscle growth.
Basically you can train as hard as you like, but the alcohol will reduce any muscle building potential.
Increases Body Fat
Alcohol is packed with calories, sugar and fat – its known to inhibit muscle growth which can help keep fat at bay, and instead will without any doubt pack on unwanted body fat.
“Drinking To Excess Not Only Harms The Ability To Build Muscle, It Also Contribute Towards Excess Body Fat”
To Sum Up
There is nothing wrong with having the odd drink to celebrate and relax, especially at holiday times, but drink to excess or too regularly and it spells trouble.
Ethanol has been proven to reduce testosterone production, it can harm your performance and endurance, and will blunt your muscle building attempts and make you fat too.