Alcohol and Bodybuilding

Alcohol and Bodybuilding

There has been much debate around the fitness community about alcohol and its relation to bodybuilding or getting in shape. So does it really have a significant impact on your ‘gains’ in the gym or is it all a bunch of hearsay? I hope to debunk the relationship that alcohol has on the body.

What is it?

The first thing we have to do is understand what alcohol is made of and the different types of alcohol out there. We will first cover the most common alcoholic beverage, beer, then dive into spirits and hard liquor.


Beer is known as one of the most widely recognized and most popular drinks. It is often times associated with everything from a drink that you have with a meal, family get togethers, parties, and the nightlife. But do most people know how beer is brewed and what ingredients it actually contains? Not really. Beer is an alcoholic beverage that is brewed with hops, malt, and yeast. Hops is derived from the plant Humulus lupulus which is native to North America and Europe. The part of the plant that is used in the brewing process are the flowers. It is primarily used as a stability agent. Malt is a type of grain derived from barley or wheat which is then fermented into alcohol. Yeast are a type of fungal microorganism that is used in baking and allows dough to rise. It does this by eating the sugar molecules and releasing gas.

With all of this in mind, what do all of these ingredients have in common? They contain or come from sources that contain carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are fine in moderation but often times when it comes to drinking beer, we consume more than is needed. As a result, the remaining carbohydrates that our bodies do not utilize will be stored as fat. This is the reason we call it ‘beer belly’. One can of beer has anywhere from 120-200 calories. That’s only in 8 ounces of fluid! It also contains roughly 13-15 grams of carbohydrates and no fiber. What this means is that you can consume large amounts of beer without really knowing how much you have consumed or without the feeling of being full. This is why it isn’t the best drink to be drinking while you are on a fat loss program. Now if you are able to restrict your carbohydrate intake for the entire day and if you are disciplined enough to drink only one beer, then it wouldn’t really hurt your progress at all. But the likelihood that someone would only drink one is unlikely. So if you are serious about your goals, you will need to get your ‘liquid courage’ from another source.

Hard Liquor

Hard liquor otherwise called spirits or distilled beverages are alcoholic drinks that are distilled from fruits, grains, vegetables, or any other sources that have already gone through the fermentation process. Some of the darker drinks such as bourbon, rum, and whiskey are fermented and stored in barrels. By the distilling, this removes impurities and water out of the drink. These types of drinks typically have more alcohol by volume and are much stronger in taste. Hence is the reason why they call it ‘hard liquor’. Spirits often times contain more calories but do not contain carbohydrates, fats, or proteins. Depending on the type of nutrition plan you are on, hard liquor would be the much better choice. Because it does not contain any macronutrients, it could be fit into more diets because it will not effect your daily macronutrient needs. Now if you are someone on a fairly low calorie diet, then neither beer or hard alcohol should be in your diet at all. I would say that between beer and spirits, spirits would be a much better choice when coming to alcoholic beverages. You are not getting the effects of carbohydrates and you are also not getting the effects or high sugar intake used in beer making. Because this type of drink is much stronger than beer, you would not be able to drink as much as you would beer. But if you are someone who can drink a lot, be careful. This type of drink will add calories in no time.


Wine is another common alcoholic drink that is well known. It is created by fermenting grapes without adding additional sugars. Just like beer, wine is produced by adding yeast to the grapes. The yeast then consume the sugar and then produce carbon dioxide and ethanol. The liquid is then extracted and that is where you get your wine. The color of the wine is caused by the color of the grapes used. Typically red wines are produced from red and purple grapes when white wine is produced from green and white grapes. Wine usually contains 120 calories per 5 ounces of liquid. It also contains a smaller amount of carbohydrates (3-6 grams) than that of beer. It is thought that wines have antioxidants and are much healthier for you. In a way that is correct but overconsumption can lead to fat gain. If you are not too careful, the calories can also add up fast. Wines contain an antioxidant called Resveratrol which can also be found in chocolate and berries. But there is not extensive research to show positive effects on the body.


The Verdict

Whether or not you enjoy a nice glass of wine with your meals or another type of alcoholic beverage, it won’t make or break your nutrition plan. As long as you are disciplined enough to only have one drink a day or less. Any more than that you will begin storing fat as a result of overconsumption or you will have excess calories that you would take in that day. In the end, it is your decision whether or not to eliminate alcohol out of your diet completely or if you occasionally drink it on holidays or special events. Just keep in mind that if you are someone who does drink multiple glasses of alcohol in one sitting, you will begin to experience the negative effects it will have. Overconsumption will lead to your liver working harder than it needs to and as a result you can have a fatty liver. Treat your body as if it were a temple. Feed it the fuel it needs and make sure your body is a well oiled and serviced machine. Your body is incredibly adaptable but it has it’s limits. You are only given one body in this lifetime. Make it count.

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