Even fitness-conscious people like to indulge in a happy hour now and then but, if you’re serious about building muscle or burning fat, those two-for-one well drinks will get in the way of your goals, not to mention all the holiday cheer at Christmas and New Years parties this time of year. While we’d like to tell you that boozing it up won’t affect your health and fitness goals, that would be a lie. Your body won’t perform optimally, and your workout attitude might not be in top form, either. That’s not to say that you should quit drinking altogether, but consider strategizing how and when you imbibe this holiday season.
Interferes With Muscle Building
In order to build muscle, your body has to synthesize protein. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption has shown to mess that process up. In a study published on PLOS.org, researchers found that drinking reduced the rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis, even when subjects ate extra protein before and/or after working out. That means eating more protein to try to encourage muscle building can’t overcome the way alcohol negatively affects muscle building.
Fogs Your Brain
The American Addiction Centers offers a short list of the ways the brain of even an occasional or moderate drinker can be affected by alcohol including short-term memory loss, impaired decision-making, and possible blackouts. While you might not feel drunk the day after, there’s no telling how long the effects of the night before will last. It’s different for everyone and depends on things like how much you drank, how often you drink in general, your age, your family history, your health, and more. That’s why you might not be able to work up the enthusiasm for a workout the day after partying it up.
Everyone knows that muscle building takes place outside of the gym–when you’re resting and not working out. The problem is that, even though a few glasses of wine or a beer or two might relax you, they don’t promote deep, restorative sleep. On top of that, the American Council on Exercise points out that alcohol consumption also strains your immune system, another vital link in the health chain that’s essential for building muscle.
Alcohol acts as a diuretic, encouraging your body to flush fluids. You need those fluids, though, especially if you’re hitting the gym for an intense cardio or resistance workout. Plus, according to Women’s Health, drinking can also interfere with nutrient absorption as it irritates the lining of your stomach. That means even if you eat healthily and clean the day after drinking, your body still won’t get everything it needs to build muscle.
Derails Fat Loss
When you’re counting calories, drinking alcohol will send your daily tally through the roof. Mens’ Fitness says that a typical drink has roughly 100 to 165 calories, but that’s not including mixed drinks that are made with sugar-packed fruit juices or pre-made mixers. Plus, how many holiday revelers stop with one drink? What’s more, alcohol relaxes your inhibitions, so you’re likely to eat more and worry about it less, another way your diet gets derailed when you drink.
The Balancing Act
There’s nothing wrong with drinking as long as you do it in moderation and time it with your workouts. In fact, alcohol can actually be beneficial to your health. Still, folks who are fond of the drink need to find a way to have their beer and drink it too. Muscle and Fitness advises starting with keeping antioxidants up to safeguard your liver by supplementing with N-acetyl cysteine. You can also improve muscle building after a day of drinking by taking leucine. Alcohol tends to cancel the effects of this BCA, so taking extra the day after will help. Also, back to the research that showed alcohol consumption reduces protein synthesis, remember that particular effect occurs during the 24 hours after you’ve had your drinks. That means it’s better to exercise before hitting holiday parties on the same night rather than partying or heading to the bar the evening after you’ve worked out.