No prop blends. No pseudoscience. Real supplements that really work: CLICK HERE

^
Black Friday Sale

Does Alcohol Consumption Affect Weight Loss and Muscle Growth?

By
Don’t forget to follow Muscle for life
Share this article!
Share this!
Sharing
Does Alcohol Consumption Affect Weight Loss and Muscle Growth?

Does alcohol consumption ruin hormone levels, strength, fat loss, and muscle recovery?

 

Alcohol and its relation to health and fitness is a tricky subject.

In small amounts—a drink or two a day—it has potential health benefits like improved insulin sensitivity, cardiac function, and blood lipids (fatty substances in your blood, which when lowered, reduces your risk of heart disease).

In larger amounts, alcohol leads to barely conscious drives home, fistfights over who’s the best NFL rusher of all time, and charges of public indecency. And to nobody’s surprise, chronic alcohol abuse basically just breaks your ass.

But this chapter isn’t about the various effects of mild or severe drinking.

Instead, it will answer a question on many people’s minds: how much alcohol can we drink before it will negatively affect our weight loss and muscle growth?

Alcohol and Weight Loss

Similar to the carbohydrate inquisition that’s in vogue these days, alcohol is the target of many criticisms. According to some people, if you drink, you’re going to get fat—end of story. And you might just lose all your muscle as a bonus.

Well, if we take a quick look at epidemiological research, we can see that moderate alcohol consumption is actually associated with lower body weight, not higher.

For instance, a study published in 1985 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the diets of 1,944 adults aged 18-74. Researchers found that an increase in calories from ethanol (alcohol) alone didn’t result in the weight gain that would normally occur if those calories were from protein, carbs, or fat. In fact, thanks to regular alcohol intake, drinkers took in an average of 16% more calories each day than non-drinkers, and had the same levels of physical activity, but weren’t any fatter than their alcohol-free counterparts.

Another study with obese women on a weight loss diet had one group get 10% of daily calories from white wine, and another from grape juice. The result: after 3 months, the white wine group lost about 2 pounds more than the grape juice group.

The exact mechanisms at work aren’t totally clear. A likely factor is drinking can reduce your appetite for food, but it may also be related to its effects on insulin sensitivity.

Now, while it may seem like I’m encouraging you to drink to get shredded, I’m not. Alcohol consumption actually can hinder your weight loss efforts, but in an indirect way.

While alcohol itself basically can’t be stored as body fat, it blocks fat oxidation, which in turn accelerates the rate at which your body stores dietary fat as body fat.

In short, it’s not the calories from alcohol that can make you fat, but all the crap that you eat with it, which is hard to resist when you’re hammered.

So, if you want to be able to drink while dieting and still lose weight, don’t drink more than one day per week, and use the following tips to protect yourself from excess fat storage:

  • Restrict your dietary fat intake that day, and don’t eat any fatty foods while you’re drinking.
  • Get the vast majority of your calories from protein and carbs that day (with most coming from protein).
  • Stay away from carb-laden drinks like beer and fruity stuff. Dry wines are a good choice, as well as spirits.

By following these advices, you can enjoy a few drinks every week without having to feel guilty, and without ruining your weight loss regimen.

Alcohol and Testosterone Levels

Alcohol is going to have to face the music here. It does suppress testosterone levels, but the magnitude of this effect varies.

For instance, a study conducted by the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute had 10 men drink 30-40 grams of alcohol per day (2-3 beers or ounces of liquor, or 10-15 ounces of wine). After 3 weeks, their testosterone levels had dropped by about 7% (pretty insignificant).

Another study had 9 men drink 60-70 grams of alcohol after working out, and it had no effects on testosterone levels during the following 5 hours.

What happens when we increase the post-workout dose, though?

The University of Helsinki conducted a similar study, administering 1.5 g ethanol per kg of body weight (!) to 8 healthy men aged 20-26, and found that their testosterone levels dropped by 23% on average between the 10th and 16th hour after they started drinking. Furthermore, cortisol levels were elevated by 36% on average, and growth hormone secretion was heavily suppressed.

Another study conducted by the same university agreed: post-workout binge drinking is bad for testosterone production, proving that 10 beers is a poor post-workout meal (awwww shucks).

So, all things considered, if you have a few drinks here and there, you probably have nothing to worry about in terms of testosterone levels. But doing post-workout protein shots? Not a good idea.

Alcohol and Muscle Recovery and Performance

In rat and in vitro studies, alcohol impairs protein synthesis. Some people directly apply that type of research to living, breathing humans and say it prevents you from building muscle and accelerates muscle loss.

Well, it doesn’t work like that. Rats and humans have major metabolic differences, and in vitro findings don’t always pan out in vivo.

In live humans, muscle-wasting effects of alcohol have only been seen in chronic alcoholics. If you have 7+ drinks per day, you’re going to have trouble building muscle. And walking. And remembering your name.

It’s also commonly claimed that alcohol consumption impairs strength and interferes with the body’s ability to repair muscle damage.

According to studies conducted by the University of Massachusetts and Aarhus University, however, alcohol has no effect on strength or indicators of exercise-induced muscle.

On the other hand, a study conducted by Massey University showed that 1 g of ethanol per kg of body weight after exercise magnified post-workout muscle damage. It should be noted, however, that the workout regimen used was a bit ridiculous (300 eccentric contractions on a machine for training the legs), so we can’t be sure its findings apply to more traditional, lower-volume weightlifting workouts.

To Drink or Not to Drink?

Alcohol advocates like to talk it up as some kind of superfood, but the bottom line is it’s not necessary in any way for good health, and it won’t give you any performance benefits.

If you’re like me and don’t drink, I don’t really see any reason  for us to start. If you drink regularly, you have a lot more to worry about than interfering with muscle gainz.

But if you drink infrequently and moderately enough to not notice any after effects (no hangovers or lingering issues), then you probably don’t have any good reason to give it up altogether.

 

What’s your take on drinking and staying fit? Do you abstain completely or keep it moderate? Let me know in the comments below!

 

How to get lean and build serious muscle and strength, faster than you ever thought possible…

Depending on how you eat, train, and rest, building muscle and losing fat can be incredibly easy or incredibly hard. Unfortunately, most people make many different mistakes that leave them stuck in a rut. And that’s why I wrote Bigger Leaner Stronger for men, and Thinner Leaner Stronger for women: they lay out EVERYTHING you need to know about diet and training to build muscle and lose fat effectively… Black Friday Sale
admin admin

I’m Mike Matthews and I’ve been training for nearly a decade now. I believe that every person can achieve the body of his or her dreams, and I work hard to give everyone that chance by providing workable, proven advice grounded in science, not a desire to sell phony magazines, workout products, or supplements. More about me.

Enjoy our articles? Enter your email address to get updates.
Leave a Comment!
Comment!
123 Comments
  • Big Rossy M

    Being in the British army we have a drinking culture, we’re all pretty fit.
    It’s like anything though, it’s ok in moderation

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Agreed.

  • Mastergunz

    I have a buddy (non active duty Marine) who has a beer as a pre-workout meal, but just one. Sighting that the simple carbs provide quick burning energy and the alcohal thins the blood slightly allowing for bigger pump. Not sure if its just ‘bro-science’ but he is pretty shredded. Of course it could be that he’s a Marine also, lol. However, seems to work for him. Thoughts?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Lol carbs are good pre-w/o, but there are better choices out there. ;)

  • Huzaif Mistry

    Just one day a week of drinking at the most. Some weeks nothing at all. I stick to moderate carbs hit my protein macros before a sip.

    The next day I have an extra half gallon of water and spend 20 minutes on a 10% Incline treadmill

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      That’s good. I recommend restricting dietary fat on the day you’re going to drink, and def don’t have fats while drinking.

  • margaritavilleusa

    The problem with Alcohol is that it takes away from tomorrows work out, The down side is you pay for it twice. The extra calories that give you no benefit and the next day when you only get 80% or 90% of your potential results.
    I try to keep it to 2-4 times a month when I have a drink, and do my best to not eat extra while drinking or after. So times you need a break, just remember more than 2-3 drinks and you work out tomorrow will suffer.

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      It really depends how much you drink and how often. But yes, if you drink enough to have any next-day effects, your workout will suffer.

  • Pingback: Alcohol and Muscles «

  • bmoyer

    I absolutely love beer. But I also love working out. When I am cutting, I stay disciplined to only drink 2 beers per week. When I am not, I will likely drink 4 per week. I have never been a heavy or even average drinker by medical standards. It becomes just extra calories you don’t need as others have said.

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      While beer isn’t the best choice in terms of preventing weight gain, as long as you keep it infrequent enough to not interfere with your gains, you’ll be okay. I do recommend staying away from fatty foods while you’re drinking though.

      • Nick

        I drank a slab over the weekend and still manage to lose 1-2lbs per week. Eating strict paleo diet otherwise. God I’m good!!

        • Michael Matthews

          Hahah

  • Jordan Kirkpatrick

    i read in reseach that alcohol can slow your metabolism upto 70 percent? idk how many drinks a week its reffering to? lol

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha you’d have to link me that study–I’ve never seen anything like that…

  • val
    • Michael Matthews

      Wow, ridiculous.

  • Lianne

    We rarely drink. MAYBE a drink every couple of months? Feels so much better without that in my body!

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice. :) An occasional drink has no downside, of course.

  • Leonardo

    I choose not drink ever i can. If i drink 4-5 times a year, it’s too much. I prefer to drink only in special days like a friend wedding or special birthday…

    • Michael Matthews

      Same here. I’m just not into it.

  • Steven Lamb

    I personally don’t drink, because I have a tendency to drink too much. I think one main disadvantage to drinking alcohol, is it saps your motivation.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah very true. Good call on just staying away from it.

  • Pingback: Cool Stuff of the Week #5: Lotus Grill, Skull Ice Cube, Donut Maker, and More… | Muscle For Life

  • Levi

    Now that I have lost a good deal of fat and gained a good deal of muscle, I have noticed that a few beers gives me a big buzz and anymore than that will get me trashed. I used to be a binge drinker and could drink a 12 pack in one evening – guess it has to do with body composition. Keep this in mind if you have gained mass, lost fat, and plan to have more than a few.

    • Michael Matthews

      Probably has to do with overall health more than anything. But that’s good you’ve cut back on it. :)

  • Iulian Tinjala

    I just don’t see the value in drinking. It’s just an association, more emotional than logical. I am building my body. Healthy cells means healthy tissue. Healthy muscle. The truth is that in this game, the fight is only with you.

    • Michael Matthews

      I agree!

  • Budgie Mitchell

    I drink 2 days a week with 3 days gap between drinking sessions, I would be considered a binge/heavy drinker when out (I never drink to unconsciousness though!) yet I can single arm curl 30kg weights with strict form, bench press 120kgs (would have been more if not for a shoulder injury), lat pulldown 120kgs, deadlift 400lbs+.

    I’m also 41 years old, Scottish, and been lifting weights for 2 years. I can tell you, alcohol has not held me back with strength gains.

    OK, beer’s crap for weight loss, sure, I got a belly on me, but I couldn’t care less about that.

    Bottom line: Don’t believe all you read.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment! Yeah, research agrees that alcohol consumption doesn’t affect strength much. You would have trouble getting lean with that much alcohol though. :)

      • Budgie Mitchell

        Oh yeah I know that Michael, but for me getting lean’s not important – the strength gains are. I’m curious to see how big & strong I can get. A medium-sized beer belly, I couldn’t care less about. Each to their own eh? :)

        All the best with your goals.

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha totally understand. Bear mode is legit. :)

  • Jeff

    Mike, I like to have a glass of red wine daily and 2 beers per night on the weekend, but do feel that it’s been difficult to stay as lean as I’d like while doing so. It seems that the proposed health benefits may counter goals of having low body fat and appearing lean. However, it is enjoyable for me in moderation, so it’s tough to give up.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, I would think that much alcohol will cause issues with fat storage. Any way you could reduce intake to 1-2 days per week?

      • Jeff

        Thanks Michael. I will definitely change my consumption habits in order to help me reach my physical goals. Thanks for your reply!

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay great, let me know how it goes!

  • Pat

    Hi Michael, I go out drinking once a week normally on Fridays sometimes Saturdays and it varies how much I’ll drink on the night. But would that one night affect my muscle development when I hit the gym again on Monday? 1 more question a little off topic from Alcohol but I heard by the age of 30 you can’t build no more muscle. Is that true at all? Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      It depends how much you drink. If it’s in moderation, no, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re getting plastered twice per week, that would be a problem…

      You can absolutely build muscle after 30. Hell, you can build muscle in your 70s…

  • Colin P. Müller

    What’s strange is when I’m sedentary and drink and load up on the calories, I lose weight. When I bust my ass working out and drink and carefully watch what I eat, I either gain weight or plateau.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm sounds like it’s just a matter of losing and gaining muscle?

      • Colin P. Müller

        Not sure. I’ve only been doing cardio.

        While being sedentary, I was steadily losing 1-2 pounds a week eating close to 3000 calories (at least 400 of those being alcohol). Ever since I’ve become active 5 days a week and eating around 2000 calories, my scale doesn’t want to go down at all. I’m going to try cutting out all alcohol and see if that makes a difference.

        • Michael Matthews

          That’s very interesting. What weight were you when you were losing 1 – 2 lbs/week on 3k cal per day? And what is your weight now?

  • D.r. Couch

    Is it possible to work alcohol into your meal planning, like, saving saving some calories back from your meals and balancing it by changing your carb intake as well to compensate? Assuming you get your proper protein and don’t over-imbibe, this might work. I work in a customer facing industry where I’m often having meetings over dinner or happy hour and drinking is part of the social structure here. It’s hard and awkward to sit at a table full of people drinking and I have a glass of water. lol.. Anything about alcohol that changes the “apples to apples” when considering calories, carbs, and protein?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, you can adjust as discussed in this article, but there is a point where regular drinking just gets in the way.

      If you kept your drinking to 1-2 times per week, you should probably be fine.

  • kyax

    Very interesting! – I am on the tiny side (Female, mid 30′s, 5’8″ 118lbs). I usually drink about 3x/week but I have quite some drinks! For my slender frame I can hold alcohol really well (Tequila shots are usually my choice!). I do love to go running or swimming the day following drinks and then hit the sauna, I think it feels awesome and look forward to it (yes, my friends think I am insane lol). I never have hangovers and my energy levels are quite good, sometimes I feel I am stonger on my workouts those days than during days when I don’t drink?! (I workout 6d/week and my diet is more on the paleo style). The only downside is that I do not get a lot of sleep because of my hectic lifestyle, but I don’t feel super tired either, except for certain moments when I.just.need.a.nap. However, I recently went on a cleanse diet and stayed away from alcohol for 5 days straight, I did lose some considerable weight, specially on stubborn areas! Now I am wondering how much that is attributed from alcohol restriction as opposed to just the cleanse diet, which was mostly shakes, detox teas and lean protein…To give it up or not, is the question…

  • kyax

    Very interesting! – I am on the tiny side (Female, mid 30′s, 5’8″ 118lbs). I usually drink about 3x/week but I have quite some drinks! For my slender frame I can hold alcohol really well (Tequila shots are usually my choice!). I do love to go running or swimming the day following drinks and then hit the sauna, I think it feels awesome and look forward to it (yes, my friends think I am insane lol). I never have hangovers and my energy levels are quite good, sometimes I feel I am stonger on my workouts those days than during days when I don’t drink?! (I workout 6d/week and my diet is more on the paleo style). The only downside is that I do not get a lot of sleep because of my hectic lifestyle, but I don’t feel super tired either, except for certain moments when I.just.need.a.nap. However, I recently went on a cleanse diet and stayed away from alcohol for 5 days straight, I did lose some considerable weight, specially on stubborn areas! Now I am wondering how much that is attributed from alcohol restriction as opposed to just the cleanse diet, which was mostly shakes, detox teas and lean protein…To give it up or not, is the question…

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      Haha it sounds like your body can just deal with alcohol very well. Probably a genetic thing.

      The weight loss was more likely due to the reduction in calories and carbs.

      I guess health is the main consideration here. Pounding alcohol 3x per week isn’t good for you, even if you’re able to look good…

  • broseidon

    This is a great article. I am in college so it’s hard to completely stay away from alcohol and have a great social life. I drank last night, about 4 drinks total. I haven’t drank since August but so my tolerance is extremely low. That got me drunk but not wasted. If on a week basis I drink one day on the weekend equating to roughly 60-70 grams of alcohol. With the rare occurrence of more on concerts and things like halloween, (3x a year) Would this negatively affect any muscle growth? On nights of drinking I will avoid any sugary drinks and my diet for the day will be extremely lean hitting all macros with low fats.
    Genetically I come from a family with high testosterone. I have minor hair loss and hairy in general and am 19.

    Thank you, this definitely shutdown a significant amount of myths.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Really glad you liked it.

      You should have no issues drinking once per week like that (with the occasional increase in intake), especially if you utilize the dietary strategy outlined here.

  • Pingback: Alcohol and Muscles |

  • Rich Wainwright

    Great article, many thanks!

    To avoid the calories in pints of lager and cider I swapped to drinking pints of soda water with a double vodka in the top. This enables me to stay in rounds with my pint drinking friends, keep really hydrated and not add 300+ calories into my system each round! I also find that I hardly have a hangover this way too.

    Red wine… Different story!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rich!

      Yeah that’s a better way to do it for sure. Haha on the wine. We all have our vices I suppose.

      • john

        hi im 21 and i would drink 12 cans of beer every friday night. Also im wondering how does sex effect my muscle gain . should i restrain from sex?

    • Andrea

      How many calories do you add with the soda water/double vodka drink?

  • Joe dietitian

    Where did you get your sources, and from what year? I’m a dietitian working with athletes in FL, and I have seen adverse effects in relation to muscle gain/weight and drinking. Also as a rule of thumb study performed over 7 years ago, or are conducted with a limited sample size are not considered best examples and should be avoided.

    • Michael Matthews

      If you click on the links in the article, you’ll see the studies I’m citing.

      As I discuss in the article, alcohol intake can definitely have various negative effects in terms of body composition and performance, but it requires a bit more than people realize (having a few shots per week isn’t going to ruin your physique or performance).

  • frank

    Bud Lights are 116 calories a piece. I don’t drink every night but occassionally might have 3. Call it 10 a week. That is 1,160 calories a week. Would you consider that enough moderation? I could cut it back but could that possibly make any material difference. For what its worth, I am pretty lean, just weighing idea of cutting it out totally for a while. I figure this is not that different than a ‘cheat meal’. I have been avoiding cheat meals pretty well.

    • Michael Matthews

      It’s hard to say at that amount–it really depends on your body. You could cut it back for a couple of weeks and see if it does anything?

  • Daniel

    When you’re counting calories for an alcoholic beverage do you include the calories from alcohol, or just tally up the calories from carbs, protein, and fat?

    • Michael Matthews

      Calories purely from alcohol don’t matter so much, but the additional calories found in stuff like beer and mixed drinks matter.

  • Tyler

    Great article. I recently all but quit drinking 6 months ago, after seeing some pictures of me at a wedding on Facebook and realized how bloated and fat my face looked. I’m a 31 yo male lawyer, 50-60 hour work weeks, so had limited time to work out, but somehow found time to binge drink (12+ drinks) one weekend night a week and moderate (or my version of it) drink (4-5 drinks) a couple nights a week. I made a commitment to never have more than 2 drinks on a weekend night and cut out the drinking during the week all together. I’m down to zero-3 drinks a week, and it has completely changed my life. I was in great shape in college and law school, but my job slowly killed that. I now look forward to being hangover free on weekends so I have energy to work out, and look forward to going to the gym on weeknights instead of happy hour. I have gone from a gross 198lbs to 176 in 6 mos–cutting out the alcohol no doubt has helped. I also have more energy and motivation. And now when I do drink, 2 will give me a buzz so it saves money too! I’m 5’10 and my goal is get to 170 and stay there. College was fine–I binged multiple nights a week and it never affected my body and I managed to stay in shale but the past few years the pounds started packing on and when I finally noticed I decided it was enough.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for sharing Tyler! Yeah, regular moderate-to-heavy drinking is just really bad for the body, no doubt about it.

      Glad to hear you’re doing well!

  • craigM

    being a university student/gym enthusiast i have a hard time balencing the two but i dont notice a hinder on muscle recovery if i limit drinking once a week but any more my muscles tend to take far longer than normal to recover and stop being sore post workout. bottom line is drinking is a normal part of university life but my gains would stop if i drank like most of my classmates

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment Craig. That makes sense.

  • ahmed bahrain

    I have noticed on many occasions when I take creatine and then at night drink alcohol like beer or wine I always have very bad headache starting middle of night till next day. Is this normal that any alcohol does not go well with taking creatine. So when I go on holiday I stopped completely taking creatine, only whey protein as I tend to drink a lot of beer when traveling out of Bahrain. When I am at home, Bahrain, I stopped to drink as I tend to drink too much in one go. I am 60 years old and now go to gym about four times a week as I am semi retired. I do not take any medicine. Therefore, is there a specific interference when taken creatine and drinking any alcohol?

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of that…

    • Alex Flora

      I would assume that your headaches come from dehydration that would likely occur with your body’s uptake of creatine (which retains water) and alcohol (a diuretic). Maybe try to make sure you are well hydrated prior to drinking alcohol and see if that helps.

      • Michael Matthews

        Good tip.

  • Ali B.

    Interesting & the best article I saw so far, I’m really curious about drinking hard liquors some of my friends says that drinking hard liquor will effect on muscle mass loss, but some again others tend to tell me that drinking hard like a 40%proof will clear toxins on me, still i don’t drink now maybe a month ago until now, and now that christmas is near there is really a great possibility that I will drink but hard not beer I’m also try to build a 6 pack abs .

    anyway is there any advice you might want to suggest if I drink occasionally will it be possible that I will drink more ? just because now I’m drink occasionally.

    thanks BTW :)
    College Student , @ 19 yrs old

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Ali!

      Hard liquor will affect your body in the ways outlined in this article. If you want to make the best gains in the gym, limit your drinking to once per week and use the dietary strategy given in the article.

  • Shabbz

    I drink alcohol almost every day. 6-7 drinks of scotch. And i also smoke. I work out 3-4 days a week but i don’t drink on the nights when i have to work out in the morning. Regular drinker, regular gym goer. I don’t eat any bad food with my drinks . Just some unsalted roasted almonds or cashews. And turkey breast for dinner. My diet is proper and a balance of protein, carbs and fats. I’m getting bigger and stronger everyday but i still keep on putting a lot of body fat. I highly suspect it’s the alcohol.

    • Michael Matthews

      Damn, that’s intense, hahah. Yeah, that much alcohol is going to make it REALLY hard if not impossible to get lean.

    • CONOR

      how could u put on weight drinking scotch? there’s almost no calories or fat in scotch. if ur body fats going up its not scotch anyway unless your putting a bag of sugar with every bottle

      • Michael Matthews

        Did you read the article?

  • Pingback: Get Workout Motivation: 7 Ways to Get Fired Up | Muscle For Life

  • ttjtjyyy

    i just drink once a month. but i kill myself wake up totally destroyed inside head falling apart. wait a day, drink tea and lemon squeeze and im good to go. continue training like nothing happened

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha

  • Pingback: How to Count Calories Correctly for Effortless Weight Loss | Muscle For Life

  • rei

    Very informative article. Guess I gotta cut down on my drinking. Is there a quick way to purge the alcohol from the system? I started going jogging the day after benders, and simultaneously started taking milk thistle before and after the drinking, and it seems to be working. I don’t feel so sluggish or slow and I haven’t noticed any sort of retention other than next day bloating (beeeeeeer is bad, water is good). Anyway, just wondering if anyone had any tips…

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      Good question. I’m not sure actually. But if you just cut it out and keep exercising, you’ll be good.

  • paulie

    Great article Mike. Ill tell you from 10 years of hard drinking that the findings of the studies are pretty much spot on. My strength never suffered and I DID drink after training.lol. put on alot of beer weight. I cut out all the booze and am making major progress. With #thelegion of course

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man! Glad to hear you’re doing well!!

      • Daniel Radford

        when i drink i loose weight why is that???? im very cutim 6 foot 2 weight 198. i want to have one drink tonight but i dont want to get upset lol

  • Carolyn

    I used to drink a lot- but when I started getting into awesome shape I found less reasons to drink. Now it’s only when we go out to dinner or if I’m just craving a beer once a month or so. I definitely feel the bloaty effects the next day.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great. Enjoy the occasional drink. Nothing wrong with that.

  • nanananBatman!

    I drink 3-4 times a week pretty heavy (10-15 beers) and started gym 9 months ago. I started eating less and more healthy and started using supplements (whey, bcaa, amino…). I didn’t change my drinking habbits, but I never eat after drinking (I drink only at night). I do weight lifting 5 times a week followed by cardio (~20 min moderate to vigorous). In this 9 months my weight dropped from 96.5 kgs to 85.3, while gaining muscle (bmi from 27 to 13). My goal is 80-82 kgs (2-4 bmi), I think I will get there in about 6 months. Honestly, I think drinkin slowed my progress by at least 40%, but I enjoy it too much to quit. Btw I drink mostly beer and occasionaly spirits…

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on your weight loss. The drinking is definitely getting in the way. You would benefit by reducing it…

  • Daniel

    I have 1-2 beers most weeknights, get pretty drunk about 2 times per month, and I smoke like 4-7 cigarettes a day. I’ve gained 12 pounds in 7 weeks by going super intense in the gym 3x/wk and eating a buttload (2500+cals, 80+g protein). My bodyfat has gone from 10 to 8% during that time period. That says nothing about my heart health though.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha I would cut back on the drinking personally and smoking is probably the worst health choice you can make.

  • Leo

    A question on the eating in relation to drinking. If I get the study right it’s important to watch out for what you’re eating before and during drinking due to the effect on fat oxidation. What about during the day after?

    I’m considering having a moderate drinking evening followed by the cheat day I have once a week (four hour body style).

  • Pingback: MFL Podcast 17: The right way to use “cheat meals” and the riduculous side of the fitness culture | Muscle For Life

  • Jake Camirand

    is having 1-2 oz of hard liquor a night 5 days a week going to affect me very negatively. if so how many drinks can i have a night and how many days a week?

  • Jake Camirand

    is having 1-2 oz of hard liquor a night 5 days a week going to affect me very negatively. if so how many drinks can i have a night and how many days a week?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah probably. I would limit it to 1-2 times per week.

  • john

    hi im 21 and i would drink 12 cans of beer every friday night . also i wonder how does sex effect my muscle gain should i restrain from both ?? thanks john

    • Michael Matthews

      I would cut that back per the article (alcohol). Sex is fine.

      • Funny

        What if I drink while I have sex?

        • Michael Matthews

          :P

  • Kristina OnTheRoadToFigure

    I rarely drink, but from time to time I will go out with the girls and have a few. I usually have vodka and soda water with a twist of lime. About 3 of them and I’m toast! I am about just under a year away from my first figure competition and I wonder what is the best way to “get back on the horse.” I don’t even think I drink once a month, probably less. Should I wake up hydrate and still hit my macros like normal? My trainer said to do the same thing you explained about carbs and fats the day you drink…. Which is hard when you’re drinking, but I want to help my body recover ASAP. What’s your advice?

    • Michael Matthews

      This shouldn’t be a problem if you just follow the dietary advice given in this article. You’ll be fine.

  • lianne

    Hey Michael,
    I’m a 5’4 female 136 lbs. I spent the last two months training for about two hours/day with cardio and weights and list 13-14 lbs which I’m really happy about. I’m not a drinker and did not drink during that period but one night this week I had 4 shots of alcohol and 1 tall can of beer. I don’t plan on drinking as I go to school and try to manage training too.
    Is this going to set me back?

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job! You’re totally fine. :) Keep up the good work!

  • Pingback: How to Enjoy “Cheat Meals” Without Ruining Your Diet | Muscle For Life

  • Anthony

    Hey Mike,
    In the article you said alcohol itself basically can’t be stored as body fat. Yet alcohol has calories. If a beer like bud light has 110 calories and 6.6g carbs (26 carb calories) with the rest of the calories coming from the alcohol, if I drink 1 beer should I only count those 26 calories for my total daily calories bc the alcohol calories can’t be stored as body fat? Or count each beer as 110 calories?

    • Michael Matthews

      Count all the calories but just know the process whereby the body converts excess calories from alcohol to body fat is VERY inefficient, to the point of being basically nothing.

  • Conor

    im 26 and I have always stayed fit mostly high intense cardio and hard 7 to 10 km runs but I have always been a heavy drinker since i was 15. I started weight training a year ago 4 nights a week ontop of high tempo runs and I didnt reduce my alcohol intake of 4 heavy nights a week and I still got big and I was making the same strenght gains as my friend who dosnt drink and is far stricter on his diet. im not someone who can have one drink, when I drink I drink myself to oblivion which is anywhere from 9 to 14 pints of Heineken or Guinness in a 4 to 5 hour period. I understand I have a serious problem with alcohol but I still get up and work to a high standard in a golf course, I was tunnelling and thats nothing but shoveling from 7am til 5pm and I worked harder then most. maybe my body has gotten used to it or maybe irish people have a higher tolerance. when I was in navy recruits I was always in the top 5 in fitness tests out of 40 and the fastest runner was worse then me for drinking and he wasrunning not much over 5 minute miles. I bench 85 kg 4 to 6 reps everything 3 sets, squat 55kg 4 to 6, dead lift 120kg 4 to 6 reps, military shoulder press 60 kg 4 to 6 reps, incline bench 75kg 4 to 6, 3 sets of of wide grip shoulder pull ups average 10 a set, close grip pull ups 3 sets average 7 to 10 reps. parallel and chest dips. im not trying to say look at me im great cause I know there’s kids better then that but I do look stronger and fitter then a awful lot of gym fanatics even though im a alcohol abuser

    • Michael Matthews

      Honestly it sounds like you have a great liver. My brother has gotten genetic testing done and found out his liver is just superhuman. He’s never had a hangover in his life.

      That said, keep drinking like that and it WILL catch up with you one day…

  • Daniel Radford

    when i drink ill loose weight??? is it ok if i drink one fourloco a week lol. thats my fav drink

    • Michael Matthews

      Alcohol is a diuretic so you can shed water.

  • Daniel Radford

    im very much into fitness and my diet is on point

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice man :)

  • Pingback: Alcoholism Weight Loss | Best Weight Loss Coaching

  • Gerald

    With drinking alcohol obviously it may hinder growth in muscles, but what about the muscle i have already built, is that going to waste away with moderate drinking?

    • Michael Matthews

      No, I don’t think so.

  • Claudio

    Great Article Michael.
    I’m Claudio from Barcelona, my english is bad but i understand all your articles and I really appreciate your work.

    Do you think could be possible to reach one digit body fat drinking one time x week something like 3/4 glass of white wine and a gin martini? More or less 600 kcal.

    It’s my saturday routine :D, no, seriously the fact is that im 25yrs and i live in barcelona is almost impossible to go out and don’t drink.

    I avoid any junk food after, im 11/12% bf now, and in the past i’v already reach 8% but withoout a single cheat meal or a drink for 4/5 months.

    Sorry again for my bad english, and thanks for your articles very inspirational.

  • Pingback: MFL Podcast 17: The right way to use "cheat meals" and the ridiculous side of the fitness culture | Muscle For Life

  • Pingback: 7 Diet Mistakes That Make It Damn Hard to Lose Weight, Build Muscle, and Feel Good | Muscle For Life

Sign in to Muscle For Life
Sign in below to access your account Connect With Facebook
or use your MFL Account
LEARN THE 5 FITNESS MISTAKES THAT NEARLY MADE ME QUIT
Enter your email below to learn what most people will never know about getting lean, building muscle, and staying healthy.
No thanks, I don't want to know how you transformed your physique