Alcohol and Bodybuilding

in general, but of the impact it can have in the practice and results of body building.


Alcohol, also better defined as ethanol, besides being able to figure among psychotropic drugs is also an energy factor.

However, unlike carbohydrates, fats and proteins, the body does not have the ability to use it directly for energy production or even to store it as a reserve; this means that its metabolism has priority over the rest of the nutrients.

Among the many questions that haunt the minds of amateur bodybuilders, there is almost always also the uncertainty about the effects of alcohol on muscle growth and definition; in fact there are few athletes and bodybuilders who give up a "drink" in the evenings of leisure and, given the "influence of alcohol" in many neurotransmitters as well as the metabolic and hormonal state, therefore the body composition, is certainly a topic to discuss .

Let's proceed step by step.

For further information: Alcohol: Damage from Abuse and acetyl-L-carnitine in a dosage of about 50 mg / kg seem really effective in preventing the formation of these wastes.

There is also strong evidence that ethanol induces some "oxidative toxicity" by promoting free radical formation and increasing "oxidative stress" markers such as lipid-formed peroxides, in which case a good spectrum of antioxidants is recommended.

Resveratrol, SAMe, ALC, vitamin E, zinc and selenium are also quite effective.

, but it adds other calories to them.

Now think that an "alcoholic unit, say a shot of whiskey, a glass of wine, a can of beer, contains on average 12 g of alcohol. A" drinking dragon ", a figure also widespread among young and old alike, can gulp quietly about fifteen units.Thus, about 1500 kcal of ethanol alone would be added to our diet - let's not count the possible rush to the first "piadinaro" to fill the hole left by the drink.

With the same calories, given by ethanol and possibly by carbohydrates - in cocktails or beer - there is no alcoholic drink more fattening than another.

There are some studies that show an identical or even lower BMI between alcoholics and non-alcoholics, even if the former had a higher caloric intake of about 1000 kcal compared to non-alcoholics; this has led to the postulation that "alcohol does not add calories and is treated by the body as an" acid "

Let's go a little deeper and don't limit ourselves to just BMI; alcoholics have, compared to non-drinkers, a body composition that favors fat mass. Their% lean mass is very meager when compared to that of non-alcoholics and casual drinkers, even though their BMI is nearly identical. Alcoholics are, so to speak, "skinny-fats" - thin on the surface, but with little muscle and much fatter than they appear.

Alcohol affects various of our hormones by promoting the so-called "systemic catabolic pathway"; it simply stimulates the loss of muscle mass by promoting the accumulation of fat. In the past it was believed to stimulate abdominal storage more than any calorie excess; recent studies have disproved this hypothesis.

A scientific study has shown that the isocaloric replacement of carbohydrates with alcohol, in a low-calorie diet, improves and speeds up fat loss. Still others note how the addition of a certain amount of calories from ethanol, in a maintenance diet , leads to less weight gain than expected.

The explanation is also found in the various interactions of alcohol on our metabolic and hormonal state; 1.32 g / kg of ethanol increases thermogenesis - dissipation of energy in the form of heat - by only 7% in 24 hours, but we keep I also take into account the effect on the level of catecholamines, which encourages thermogenesis even more. Furthermore, ethanol has very high metabolic costs, so part of its calories is invested to eliminate it later. But be careful, being hypoglycemic, taking too much ethanol in the absence of carbohydrates easily leads to intense malaise.

All this would explain the lower weight and fat gain than expected. Let's make things a little more practical; let's ask ourselves the expected question: "Does alcohol make you fat?". Yes of course; the acetate derived from the metabolism of ethanol completely blocks lipolysis and stimulates the "de novo lipogenesis" (synthesis of fatty acids from different substrates).

What really matters, however, is that the disposal of alcohol has the "metabolic priority" over the remaining macronutrients and this involves a "shift" of the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates towards the path of lipogenesis.

2 or 3 alcohol units per week are not enough to ruin the diet; the relationship "calories introduced VS calories consumed" is always the master, even if it is important to take into account the influence of alcohol on our hormonal system and I will talk about this soon after.

Obviously, we do not take into consideration the disinhibitory effect of alcohol also against food intake, its aperitif role and the tendency to reduce the perception of satiety, because these are mechanisms that indirectly affect weight gain in fat.

To learn more: Alcohol and Diabetes) only 5 mg / kg of ethanol is enough to bring its level down to 1/3 of normal; 15 mg / kg destroy the nocturnal rhythm of growth hormone and decrease its release by about 30%; 1 g / kg of alcohol leads to a total block of the nocturnal GH peak, these effects last for about 24/36 hours.

most affected are the "type II" and in particular the "IIb" (the rapid contraction or white).

This is of great relevance to both bodybuilders and power athletes; it is precisely these fibers that are most likely to suffer from hypertrophy. Let's take a couple of studies with "really possible" amounts of alcohol consumed.

Between 0.8-2.0 g / kg of ethanol, the reduction in protein synthesis reaches about 20 or 30% in 1 or 2 hours and this before hormonal alterations take place. In 24 hours. there is a 63% reduction in anabolism and it is now that the effect on the hormonal axes is added. The causes of this direct action of alcohol on protein synthesis are not entirely clear; a reduction in mRNA and translation efficiency is noted, but it seems that the main culprit is the increase in free radicals induced by the consumption of ethanol. .

In fact, in alcoholics suffering from myopathy (muscle catabolism), low levels of selenium and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) are recorded, two markers of "oxidative stress".

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