Whiskey and weightlifting don’t mix – and that doesn’t just mean don’t have a few drinks before hitting the gym for your next workout… It means weightlifters and bodybuilders aiming to live a healthy lifestyle should avoid alcohol as a general rule.
First, let’s look at why people lift weights. Weightlifters hit the gym regularly to get stronger, more fit and be healthy. Bodybuilders hit the gym to build muscle, burn off bodyfat and be able to present the best physique their genetics will allow.
Now let’s examine just how alcohol impedes both scenarios. First, and most important to both weightlifters and bodybuilders, alcohol suppresses the body’s production of testosterone. Testosterone is a vital hormone produced by your body and is probably the biggest natural activator when trying to gain lean mass and build muscle in both men and women. Natural testosterone levels are much higher in men than women, which is one of the reasons men develop much larger muscles than women do. Would you want to effectively turn off the tap on such a strong muscle-building hormone? Of course not – or you wouldn’t be lifting heavy in the gym a few times every week.
Secondly, drinking alcohol shuts down the fat-burning mechanisms in your body. The sugars in alcoholic beverages are much more readily available for your body to use for energy, so as long as the alcohol is in your system your body has no need to burn off bodyfat. Getting ripped and shredded is hard enough for most bodybuilders without losing potential fat-burning time for a few hours at a time.
Third, liquors, liqueurs and beer all can contribute significant calories to your daily intake with little or no healthy benefits. Liquors like gin, rum, tequila or vodka contain up to 82 calories PER OUNCE, while a regular 12-punce beer has 146 calories. Mixed drinks have even more calories due to the mixer added – for example, Pina Coladas can contain 450 calories each. When you consider that an hour of steady-state cardio, running on a treadmill for example, burns just 500 calories, having 4 or 5 drinks with friends on Saturday night could easily negate the hours you spent on the treadmill or elliptical for the whole week!
This doesn’t mean you can’t be out having a great time when friends hit the bars – offer to always be the designated driver and watch how often you get invited along – often at their expense. And keep your drinks healthy – for example, order a soda water & cranberry juice for a good non-alcoholic carbonated drink or opt for a ‘virgin screwdriver’, also known as a glass of orange juice. Weightlifters and bodybuilders can still party with friends and have a great time, just leave the alcohol out of your personal equation!