How does alcohol affect muscles?
In addition to the three main macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates), there is also a fourth nutrient - alcohol. All of them contain calories and can be a source of energy for the body. However, the fundamental difference between alcohol is that it is extremely difficult for the body to store calories of wine, vodka or beer - in fact, the body prefers to spend these calories immediately.
This fact explains the main effect of alcohol on muscles and metabolism - with its presence in the blood, metabolism is aimed at cleansing the body of these calories. In other words, the body stops processing proteins, fats and carbohydrates, focusing solely on the energy of alcohol. At the same time, drinking alcohol increases appetite, which also affects metabolism.
How to reduce the harm of alcohol?
The body regards alcohol as a poison, and throws all its forces into neutralization - this draws out vitamins and so important amino acids. In order to reduce the harm from alcohol, when training the next day, it is recommended to drink more and engage in cardio with a heart rate of 100-120 beats per minute.
- drink more water
- eat more fiber
- get enough sleep before training
The effect of alcohol on muscle growth
As in the case of blocking fat burning, alcohol has an extremely negative effect on the synthesis of amino acids in the body. The body, in priority order, begins to spend the energy of alcohol, forgetting about any muscle needs for proteins for growth and recovery. It is also important that the muscles literally begin to break down to make up for the resulting amino acid deficiency.
Among other things, under the influence of alcohol, the production of testosterone and growth hormone is inhibited, which, against the background of increasing cortisol, has an extremely negative effect on both muscle growth and fat burning and even potency in men (2) . In addition, alcohol provokes tissue dehydration, which affects the muscles, since they consist of approximately 75% water.
Harm of alcohol after exercise
Within four hours after the strength training, the so-called “carbohydrate window” opens, when a significant part of the consumed nutrients goes to the restoration and growth of muscle tissue. Taking even small doses of alcohol (for example, a glass of wine or a can of beer) during the period of 12 hours before or after a workout significantly worsens the processes of sending energy to the muscles.
It is important to note that any physical training that follows or precedes the use of alcohol is not only completely useless to the body, but can even be harmful. In a situation where the normal metabolism is disturbed by the toxic effects of alcohol, the body can easily enter the catabolic state of muscle breakdown into amino acids.
The effects of alcohol on the brain
Despite the fact that alcohol slows down mental processes and inhibits motor functions, its use leads to an increase in the synthesis of dopamine - one of the hormones of pleasure. The negative side of dopamine is that in the literal sense of the word it forms an addiction - the brain again and again wants to receive a sharp surge of this hormone.
After ethanol enters the brain, a person begins to feel relaxed and pleasantly light. Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of physical processes at this moment - the level of the stress hormone cortisol rises sharply, and the body switches to an active fight against alcohol (in fact, a toxic substance), directing any available reserves to it.
How many calories does alcohol contain?
One gram of pure alcohol contains 7 kilocalories (recall that in a gram of protein or carbohydrate contains 4 kcal, and in a gram of fat - 9 kcal), plus, additional calories are also found in sugar, which is part of many alcoholic beverages. Sweet champagnes, wines, liquors and port contain up to 10-20 g of sugar per 100 ml, beer - about 3-5 grams.
However, the total caloric content of alcohol differs significantly from the “calculated” one - in order to process these calories, the body needs a lot of effort, so it is extremely difficult to say how much energy the body will receive from a glass of vodka or a glass of beer. That is why the caloric content of alcohol itself is usually not taken into account in the table of composition of products.
Why are getting fat from alcohol?
Scientific studies suggest that the use of even small doses of alcohol provokes long-term changes in the metabolism - for example, after a glass of vodka, fat-burning processes in the body can be blocked for 6-9 hours (1) . During this time, the body is unable to burn fat stores, but is happy to increase it.
In fact, alcohol deals a triple blow to metabolism - the body receives additional calories from the alcoholic drink itself, increases appetite (plus, when intoxicated, the feeling of “criticality” in food choices decreases), and fat burning is also blocked. Ultimately, alcohol leads to an increase in internal fat stores and the development of obesity.
The effect of alcohol on fat reserves is very similar to the action of fast carbohydrates - in the presence of ethanol in the blood, the body tries to remove excess energy into fat as quickly as possible, while blocking any fat burning processes (3) . In other words, while drinking alcohol, the body can become extremely fat, no matter what you do.
Considering the fact that alcohol is usually consumed during feasts with an almost unlimited amount of food, amid increased appetite and disabled control mechanisms, a losing weight person can easily eat several thousand calories - especially if he was on a strict diet and tried to limit himself to the maximum in "bad" products.
The effect of alcohol on the processes of metabolism and metabolism begins with blocking the processes of fat burning and ends with the production of dopamine - the hormone of pleasure, which forms a strong dependence on a particular moment or condition. The body often needs at least 12 hours to completely eliminate the negative effects caused by ethanol intoxication.
- Effects of ethanol on lipid metabolism, source
- The pulsatile secretion of gonadotropins and growth hormone, and the biological activity of luteinizing hormone in men acutely intoxicated with ethanol, source
- De novo lipogenesis, lipid kinetics, and whole-body lipid balances in humans after acute alcohol consumption, source