Can you drink alcohol and still build muscles?

People raising beer glasses at Octoberfest
Can you drink alcohol and still build muscles?

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou know the expression: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?” The same could be said about working out. Don’t let your desire for building a better body turn into an unhealthy obsession. You need to have these cheat meals and you can party (responsibly) but can you drink alcohol and still build muscles?

Call me vain, but what’s the point in working out and dieting to build that killer body of yours if you can’t go out and let it do the talking when you chat up members of the opposite (or same if that’s your thing) sex? Think of it as rewarding yourself for all the hard work you’ve done in the week 🙂

Going out, clubbing, partying or whatever you want to call it, normally involves alcohol. You don’t need me to lecture you on how bad drinking is for your health. I am sure your parents have done a pretty good job at that. Instead, I am going to focus on some of its effects on your muscles.


Your muscles grow when you rest and your body produces growth hormone when you are asleep in the night. Alcohol disturbs your natural sleep rhythm and therefore affects both your recovery and the release of growth hormone.

A good night out, fuelled with alcohol, can decrease the amount of growth hormone by as much as 70%.


Both testosterone and protein play vital role when it comes to muscle building. Testosterone belongs to the androgen group of hormones which promote protein synthesis.

Protein synthesis is the process in which your body turns the protein you have consumed during the day, into muscles.

Have a protein shake before you go to bed. When you eventually wake up the following day, have a serving of ZMA before you have breakfast. This will boost your testosterone levels and make up for some of the losses during the night.


Alcohol has a diuretic effect on your body, the end result of which is – dehydration. That’s bad news for the whole of your body, including muscle building.

Make sure you keep hydrated on a night out. Always have a bottle of water to hand or access to (drinkable) tap water. Have a pint of water before you go to bed and make sure you have a big bottle of water by your bed in case you wake up gasping for a drink. This also prevents a hangover.

So can you drink alcohol and still build muscles?

The short answer is: not really. That doesn’t mean to say that you can’t enjoy a drink every now and then though. Just make sure you drink responsibly. Here are some tips to help you cushion the negative effect alcohol has on your health and muscles:

  • If you are planning to go out, make sure you don’t have a gym session in the afternoon and drink that same evening because that will disturb your recovery.
  • Have a protein-rich dinner with plenty of slow digesting carbs (think sweet potatoes) to ensure your muscles are fed and your energy levels are up in the night.
  • Stay hydrated. Make sure you “down” enough water during your night out and before bed.
  • Be sensible. Don’t do anything stupid that may result in an injury as that will compromise not just your health but your training program too.

If, for whatever reason, partying is not your thing, then go out and do something else. Meet people, learn new things, get out of your little bubble and enjoy life. There’s more to life than eating, working out and sleeping. You get one shot at it, so make it count.

[quote_box_center]Caution: Remember that every country has laws about the age at which you can drink (and smoke) and you should observe these at all times and never (ever) use or experiment with drugs.[/quote_box_center]

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