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Will Alcohol Effect My P90X Results?

One of my team members sent this to me.  It describes how Alcohol can effect your in your workout routine and ultimately your results.  I get a ton of questions about alcohol and whether or not someone should stay away from it while doing a program like P90X.  In order to get the best results with P90X you have to commit to the nutrition plan all around.  So read and decide for yourself…just remember that if you do decide to then moderation will be key.


Alcohol is one of the world’s oldest and most widely used drugs. Although it is made from the seemingly harmless substances of grain, juice and honey, its consumption can pose numerous threats that will affect you both in and out of the gym. While alcohol does have a few positive benefits when consumed in moderation, the negatives are far more prominent and numerous. So, does alcohol have any significant negative effects on building muscle?
The answer to this extremely common question is yes! Excessive consumption of alcohol will have a fairly significant negative effect on your workout performance and on your resulting strength and size gains. I’m not here to tell you that you can’t drink if you want to build muscle, but you should definitely be aware of how this drug (yes, alcohol is a drug) is affecting your gains. All I’m going to talk about is how alcohol negatively affects the muscle-building process specifically. This is not an anti-drug speech and the choice is ultimately up to you.  So, how will alcohol prevent you from gaining the greatest amount of size and strength possible?

Well …

1) It negatively affects protein synthesis.

Protein synthesis is the process by which amino acids are joined together to form complete proteins. Excessive consumption of alcohol has been shown to slow down this process by as much as 20%! That’s a huge decrease, and since muscles are made of protein you can see how this would be a problem. The slower the rate of protein synthesis, the slower your body will synthesize new muscle tissue.

2) It lowers testosterone and increases estrogen.
One of the limiting factors that determines how much muscle you can gain is the amount of testosterone in your body. Without the use of steroids, controlling testosterone levels can be very difficult. One way to maximize testosterone production is to limit alcohol consumption as much as possible. In one study, men’s testosterone levels decreased by an average of 25% when intoxicated! It was found that there is a direct relationship between blood alcohol levels and testosterone production. Not only does excessive alcohol consumption lower testosterone levels, but it also raises estrogen (the main female hormone). Increased levels of estrogen translate to a decrease in testosterone and a higher risk for gynecomastia. Alcohol also lowers another very important muscle-building hormone, IGF-1.

3) It dehydrates you.
It is fairly well known that alcohol has a significant negative impact on the kidneys, but how does this affect bodybuilders? Well, since the kidneys must filter large amounts of water from the body in order to break down the alcohol, dehydration will occur. You already know how absolutely vital water and proper hydration are, so I’m sure you can see why you’d want to avoid dehydration like the plague.

4) It disrupts your sleep.

Although alcohol’s sedative effects can make falling asleep much easier, the actual quality of your sleep will be greatly reduced. The time you spend sleeping is very important to your recovery, hormonal balance and muscle-building processes, so it is crucial that you treat this period of time with respect. I’ll talk a lot more in detail about the importance of a solid night’s rest later on.

5) It depletes your body of vitamins and minerals.
Alcohol interferes with the absorption of many important vitamins and minerals which are critical to the muscle-building process.Vitamin A, C, the B’s, calcium, zinc and phosphorus are all drained at rapid rates. Not only will this negatively impact the utilization of protein and carbohydrates, but it will literally have an effect on every single process going on in your entire body.

6) It increases fat storage.
Alcohol contains 7 empty, worthless calories per gram. That’s almost twice the amount of protein and carbohydrates with virtually no nutritional value. The excess calories will lead to an increase in body fat, as will alcohol’s negative effect on the Kreb’s Cycle, which plays a large role in fat burning. Alcohol also impairs the production of certain enzymes produced by the pancreas that metabolize fat. So if your goal is to achieve a body that stores fat easily and has trouble gaining and maintaining lean mass, drink away!
These are the main effects alcohol will have on your body when it comes to building muscle.
So how much alcohol is too much?

Well, if you want to gain the absolute greatest amount of muscle size and strength possible, you should ideally avoid getting drunk altogether. Notice that I said getting drunk. There is a big difference between getting completely hammered and just having a couple of drinks every now and then. A couple of drinks (where a “couple” means 2, not 3, 5 or 12) on the weekend shouldn’t pose too much of a problem, however, getting highly intoxicated is a completely different story.

It’s important to have fun in life, but too much fun can lead to problems. If you’re serious about achieving significant muscle-building results, you definitely need to monitor your intake of alcohol and make sure that you are consuming it in moderation. A couple drinks here and there shouldn’t be a problem, but if you find yourself getting drunk more than once a month you can almost certainly guarantee that your gains will be compromised.

If you do decide to go out and party, make sure to drink plenty of water and to properly nourish yourself with vitamins/minerals and a protein rich meal.
I don’t recommend revolving your entire life around your muscle-building program, so don’t be afraid to go out and have a good time once in a while. Just make sure to keep your drinking nights infrequent (no more than once a month) and properly nourish yourself to lessen its effects. As long as you monitor what you’re doing you can achieve an impressive physique and have a social life at the same time.

Building muscle is all about making sacrifices. If you want to be the best you can possibly be then there are certain things you’ll have to live without.
You know what you’re up against, so you make the choice. If you do decide to go out and get hammered, then follow these steps to lessen the impact…

1) Have a protein rich meal before you go to bed. This will help to keep your body in an anabolic state and prevent muscle breakdown.
2) Take a multivitamin/multimineral supplement. Since alcohol robs your body of vitamins and minerals, taking a high-potency vitamin before bed will help to replenish your body’s stores and also help to prevent a hangover
3) Take 5-10 grams of glutamine. This highly anti-catabolic supplement will ensure that your body stays in an anabolic state while you sleep and will help to spare muscle tissue through the night. (We’ll talk more about glutamine in the supplement section.)
4) Drink 16-20oz of water before bed. This will help to re-hydrate your muscles as well as the rest of your body and will also help to prevent a hangover.
5) Eat a big breakfast rich in protein. This will get you back on track and feed your body with the muscle-building nutrients it has been depleted of.

While this certainly won’t eliminate the negative effects of the alcohol, it will definitely help to minimize them.