An effective nutrition plan, when combined with an exercise program, can have a positive effect on weight loss and muscle gain. An effective nutrition plan includes the beverages you consume such as water for hydration and caffeinated beverages which have a tendency to dehydrate. Beverages also include the consumption of alcohol which may delay or even derail your progress towards your goals.


Alcohol is considered having empty calories as there are no nutrients but it does in fact have calories. A single shot can have upwards 100 calories or more. That really adds up when you are trying to lose fat.  It also slows down your metabolism by disrupting the Kreb’s cycle. Let’s take a look at how alcohol effects your metabolism.


What is the Kreb’s cycle?


The Kreb’s cycle is part of the pathway for the breakdown of glucose and also for the breakdown of all metabolites, including other sugars, amino acids and fatty acids. Since the Kreb’s cycle isn’t working correctly, fats cannot be broken down. In short, your body is trying so hard to digest and metabolize the alcohol, that fat burning stops all together.


Now let’s take a look at what the effects of excessive alcohol consumption can play on your body.


Muscle Growth:

Myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) is the driving force behind how the body adapts and responds to exercise. This response is directly related to the recovery and growth of skeletal muscle. During the recovery period following a workout, MPS is significantly elevated, which makes the right nutrition crucial for muscle growth. (1)This is also the time when alcohol can negatively impact gains and really interfere with muscle recovery and regeneration. One reason is that it dehydrates your muscle cells. Because your cells aren’t holding as much water, it becomes much harder to build muscle. The second reason is because it blocks the absorption of many important nutrients that are key to muscle contraction, relaxation and growth including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and potassium.



Testosterone: Lowers testosterone in blood and increases estrogen. This can cause increased fat depositing and fluid retention.


Growth Hormone: Helps with the growth and maintenance of tissues like muscle and collagen as well as helping to regulate metabolism. There are two ways that alcohol can negatively impact this hormone:


  1. Increases the stress hormone cortisol, which can reduce the levels of growth hormone by as much as 72 percent. (2)

  3. Growth hormone is predominately secreted during the early sleeping hours of the night. Because alcohol tends to disrupt natural sleep rhythms, it can decrease the amount of growth hormone released by as much as 70 percent. (2)


Skeletal System: Reduces absorption of key minerals needed for bone strength and increases the risk of fractures and osteoporosis later on in life.


Liver: Creates imbalances that can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), fatty liver and hyperlipidemia (build-up of fats in the bloodstream).


Excessive alcohol consumption can also play a large role on physical performance.


  • Energy levels decrease lowering your workout intensity.
  • Dehydration follows the night after drinking which can be felt the following day.
  • Alcohol can disrupt your sleep by altering your cycles, changing the duration of sleep time and increasing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Increased fatigue and poor reparative sleep can affect your physical performance the following day.


While there are many negative ways excessive alcohol consumption can affect the body, drinking in moderation can have some positive effects.  It can reduce stress levels and increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind). Red wine is known to have antioxidants which can help protect the body’s cells against free radical damage which can be a precursor to diseases like heart disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. (3)


Consuming alcohol in large quantities has a direct effect on your metabolism, causing fat to be stored instead of being utilized as an energy source. If your fitness goals are to increase muscle mass and decrease fat, you will want to make sure that alcohol is limited in your diet. Watching your alcohol consumption can also help with general health. If you have any questions on how we can help with your fitness goals, contact us.


  1. “Alcohol Eats Away At Muscle Mass”. Accessed 14, August 2015. The American Council on Exercise. http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness-fact-article/2636/alcohol-eats-away-at-muscle-mass/
  2. “The Effects of Alcohol on Muscle Gains”. Accessed 14, August 2015. The American Council on Exercise. http://www.acefitness.org/blog/5567/the-effects-of-alcohol-on-muscle-gains
  3. “Is Drinking Red Wine Actually Good For You?”. Accessed 17, August 2015. Greatist.com http://greatist.com/health/drinking-red-wine-actually-good-you
  4. “6 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Body”. Accessed 14, August 2015. The American Council on Exercise. https://www.acefitness.org/blog/5221/6-ways-alcohol-affects-your-body
  5. “The Krebs Cycle”. Accessed 17, August 2015. Austin Community College. http://www.austincc.edu/emeyerth/krebs.htm
  6. “Alcohol and Bodybuilding: Do They Mix?”. Accessed 14, August 2015. Bodybuilding.com http://www.bodybuilding.com/teen/bigalcohol.htm
  7. Image courtesy of xtremelife at FreeDigitalPhotos.net




President, Personal Training Manager at Body By Brent LLC