| By Eric Wolfe


Does drinking alcohol limit muscle growth potential?   

The question is, how much are you consuming?!  Some rumors have been created justifying alcohol consumption post workout due to the carb content, as a method of carb reloading.  ie. Carbs are beneficial post workout (this is true)

So we ask, does alcohol interfere with protein synthesis, a key factor in muscle growth.  From the research we've found, it's been conflicting...

For example, one major study took rats and injected them with ethanol (alcohol). After waiting 2.5 hours, the researchers measured protein synthesis from two different muscle regions. The end result was a reduction in protein synthesis by 25% under normal conditions.

Vitro studies are similar as well. They can help determine if something is worth examining further following a study, but just like with rat studies, they are not always 100% reliable. In vitro means they took the cells away from the body.

One in vitro study shows that a cell being given 80mM of ethanol will reduce protein synthesis by 15-20% after 24 hours of the cell being introduced to the alcohol.

However, another study by TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute shows that drinking 30-40 grams of alcohol (2-3 beers) per day did not affect protein synthesis levels significantly. 

This shows that the rat and vitro studies may not really help much with comparison to the human anatomy. If we want to know more about how protein synthesis is affected by the alcohol we consume, then human subjects are needed to get a more definite idea.

Based on research we can conclude that alcohol consumption in MODERATE amounts can still lead to muscle growth! However, some decrease to Protein Synthesis may occur.

Note: Exercise increases muscle protein breakdown; alcohol decreases muscle protein synthesis.

Other Factors to Consider:

High levels of alcohol consumption can lower testosterone levels.  When testosterone levels dropped, researchers started to notice the benefits were no longer present for muscle growth. Instead, low test levels now showed that lean muscle growth had significantly decreased.

So knowing that testosterone is important for muscle growth, we can now assume that muscle hypertrophy is not very heightened when our testosterone levels begin to drop by significant amounts.

With low to moderate alcohol consumption it appears testosterone levels are not affected to a significant degree.

So, in conclusion...Your best choices at the bar? Liquid with soda water or diet soda (always avoid the sugary mixers).  White or Red Wine.  Light Beer.

A better choice... ENDURE BCAA tasts amazing, and enhances recovery!

Eric Wolfe
B.S. CPT. AFAA. AFAA Advanced.
Founder of eFlow Nutrition
IG @ewolfe08

Team eFlow Athlete Profile