Booze and Lose Muscle
Muscular Development|February 2021
Alcohol consumption will likely decrease muscle size and strength.
By Michael J. Rudolph, Ph.D.

After an intense week of working from home or at your job, a nice glass of wine or an ice-cold beer to relax sounds pretty appealing. Of course, the last thing you want to do is diminish the positive training effect from all that hard work in the gym or at your home gym. Yet, considering the deluge of scientific data showing that alcohol consumption has the capacity to impede muscle growth, you’ve probably contemplated whether drinking that wine or beer is worth it. Well thankfully, further investigation into the phenomenon of alcohol-induced muscle loss has shown that the negative influence of alcohol on muscle growth is actually dose-dependent, with greater alcohol consumption causing muscle loss – while smaller amounts of alcohol intake actually stimulate production of testosterone, providing a more anabolic environment that will likely amplify muscle growth.

Lower Muscle Protein Synthesis

The anabolic response within muscle tissue is due to the difference in muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown, where higher levels of protein synthesis results in muscle growth. This anabolic response within muscle tissue can be significantly decreased by the consumption of excessive alcohol intake, which inhibits muscle protein synthesis and therefore muscle growth. 1-3 In fact, one study by Hong-Brown et al. showed that the exposure of muscle cells to alcohol decreased the ability of either IGF-1 or insulin to stimulate protein synthesis by 30 percent and 60 percent, respectively. In addition, this study also showed that alcohol had no influence on the rate of muscle protein degradation 4 , demonstrating that alcohol specifically affects muscle protein synthesis.

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