Alcohol and Bodybuilding: Do they mix?


If you’re reading this then odds are you’re someone who trains hard, watches what they eat and takes care of their body. It may seem obvious not to put alcohol and bodybuilding together. But as the weekend approaches you may also like to head out for a few drinks. Of course enjoying this time is great but it is important to know the effects that alcohol can have on your training – from bodybuilder to long distance runner.

Most people are aware of the health problems that come from binge drinking. But can the odd few visits to the pub really make a difference on your health, and in particular your ability to build muscle? We take a look at some of the less well known health disadvantages of having a few drinks….


Most people know that getting a deeper level of REM sleep can help with muscle repair, which is one of the reasons why supplements like ZMA are so popular. Alcohol gives you a restless nights sleep. You may pass out and snore but, in reality, you never wake up from a few drinks feeling refreshed.

Alcohol disrupts your natural sleep rhythms, decreasing the amount of growth hormone released during the early part of your sleep by up to 70%. When it comes to building muscle, growth hormones play a massive role – they stimulate cell growth, and the higher the amount of growth hormones, the easier it is for your body to build muscle. So an alcohol related decrease can actually affect your ability to pack on size.


With a hangover you’re going to feel tired and lacking in the energy needed to bench your way through your regular workout. We’ve already mentioned the restless sleep that a few drinks can cause, but alcohol can also affect your glycogen levels – decreasing the amount stored in your muscle cells.

Your body prioritises alcohol synthesis over glycogen synthesis, meaning that by the time you hit the gym your body will be running on empty and fatigue is likely to kick in early. Not only will working out with a hangover not help you make any increases in strength, it’s probably best to forget doing any cardio too. Alcohol can cause your blood pressure to increase, which raises your heart rate. As exercise also raises your heart rate, your heart will be under an increased amount of stress, meaning that any aerobic exercise will feel an awful lot harder than it should.


With around 150 calories in just one can of beer (which contains carbs including sugar), a night out drinking can hit a calorie controlled diet pretty hard. Even spirits without mixers can be damaging, with around 60 to 100 calories in a single shot. All these calories are without the kebab at the end of the night and the dehydration induced feelings of hunger that occur the next day…. Our answer to alcohol and bodybuilding? They don’t mix well.


As well as drinking plenty of water, electrolyte supplements such as Complete Hydration Drink™ can help get you back on track.


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