Illustration of a margarita

How Much Alcohol is Okay While Bulking?

Maybe you’ve heard that beer builds beer bellies, that alcohol can tank our testosterone production, or that drinking too much can impair muscle growth.

All of this is true. In fact, it gets worse. Alcohol can also disrupt our sleep, which can further reduce muscle growth, cause extra fat gain, and harm our workout performance.

Worse still, alcohol can slow digestion, making it harder for us to digest big bulking diets. It can also negatively impact our appetites, making it harder to gain weight.

However, these aren’t the effects of drinking, these are the drinking too much. As with most good things in life, it’s the dose that makes the poison.

Maybe you’ve even heard that having a drink or two per day is better than having none. Is that true?

How Much Alcohol is Healthy?

So first of all, although Marco has a degree in Health Sciences (BHSc), our specialty is helping skinny guys build muscle and gain strength. When it comes to general health, we prefer to defer to the experts.

To give some background information, there’s some research showing that moderate drinkers live the longest (study, study, study, study) and enjoy the best health (studystudystudystudystudystudy, studystudy). Now, it’s not surprising that moderate drinkers are healthier than heavy drinkers, but it is surprising that they’re healthier than non-drinkers.

However, the mechanisms aren’t properly understood, there are also some downsides to moderate drinking, and it’s possible that it’s just a correlation anyway. Despite how prevalent drinking is, we don’t have a clear understanding of it yet.

With that out of the way, here are the best recommendations we could find:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends avoiding alcohol altogether (source). That might sound overly cautious, but many serious health issues are rooted in alcohol abuse. It’s a safe general recommendation.
  • The Mayo Clinic, on the other hand, admits some small potential health benefits to drinking modest amounts of alcohol. They recommend 0–2 drinks per day (source).
  • Harvard acknowledges some protective effects of alcohol in some people under some circumstances. However, there are also potential downsides even at modest intakes (source).

All of these expert recommendations have a few things in common:

  • If you don’t enjoy drinking alcohol, there’s no reason to start.
  • If you do enjoy drinking, then do it in moderation. For a man, that’s 0–2 drinks per day. At that level, it can be a part of a healthy diet.
  • If you have a bad relationship with alcohol, best to stay away from it.

In terms of general health and fitness, I think these recommendations are wise. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can never have a third beer, just that the third beer might not be perfectly ideal for your health. The harms really start to show up once you go beyond 3.5 daily drinks, though.

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell used alcohol as an example of the inverted-U curve:

Inverted-U Curve Graph of Alcohol Intake and Health

Here’s Gladwell explaining the idea:

A classic inverted-U curve can be seen in the relationship between alcohol consumption and health. If you go from not drinking at all to drinking one glass of wine a week, you’ll live longer. And if you drink two glasses a week, you’ll live a little bit longer, and three glasses a little bit longer still – all the way up to about seven glasses a week. (These numbers are for men, not women.) That’s the upslope: the more, the merrier.

Then there’s the stretch from, say, seven to fourteen glasses of wine a week. You’re not helping yourself by drinking more in that range. But you’re not particularly hurting yourself either. That’s the middle part of the curve. Finally, there’s the right side of the curve: the downslope. That’s when you get past fourteen glasses of wine a week and drinking more starts to leave you with a shorter life. Alcohol is not inherently good or bad or neutral. It starts out good, becomes neutral, and ends up bad.

Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath

Anyway, the main thing I want to talk about is how alcohol affects bulking. How does it affect muscle gain and fat storage? How does it affect digestion? How does it affect workout performance?

Let’s find out.

How Alcohol Affects Muscle Growth

Alcohol Contains 7 Calories per Gram

The type of alcohol that we drink is called ethanol. It’s formed from the fermentation of dense carbohydrates, such as barley (beer), grapes (wine), and agave (tequila). However, alcohol isn’t itself a carbohydrate.

Alcohol is the fourth macronutrient, and it contains 7 calories per gram. However, most of the calories in alcohol will be burned off as body heat. Whiskey really will keep you warm.

That somewhat negates the fact that alcohol packs a heavy punch calorically. However, this property isn’t unique to alcohol. The same is true with higher protein diets, and, to a lesser extent, higher carb diets.

Alcohol Can Improve Insulin Sensitivity

Modest alcohol consumption seems to positively affect insulin sensitivity (study, study). Having better insulin sensitivity allows your body to direct calories away from fat storage during your day to day life. Perhaps this is why modest alcohol consumption is associated with longer lifespans and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Mind you, skinny guys who lift weights almost never have problems with insulin sensitivity. And besides, this effect is quite mild. Still interesting, though.

Alcohol is Absorbed More Slowly After Eating

Alcohol is absorbed by our entire gastrointestinal tracts (GI). How quickly it’s absorbed depends on how much food we have in there already. Having alcohol during or after meals causes it to seep into your bloodstream more slowly, allowing you to better tolerate more of it before feeling its effects.

I was reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, Talking with Strangers, and he was saying that college students should learn to eat before they go out drinking. That way they aren’t blindsided by drunkenness after having a couple of beers. (Gladwell, like us, is Canadian, and the legal drinking age here is 18–19. Most university students here can legally drink.)

Food is Digested More Slowly After Drinking

Just like food slows alcohol absorption, so too does alcohol slow our digestion. As our body is focused on getting rid of the alcohol, our digestion can slow, which can leave us feeling full for longer.

This certainly isn’t a problem for everyone, but it’s hard to enough calories while bulking. If you’re having trouble eating enough, we’ve got an article on eating more calories. We’ve also got a list of great bulking foods.

Alcohol is Burned Off Quickly

No matter how much food we have in our system, though, alcohol gets priority. Our liver loves to use alcohol as fuel. Perhaps because it’s eager to get rid of this poison we’ve ingested.

An interesting byproduct of that, though, is that it’s nearly impossible for alcohol to be stored as fat. Our liver is too good at metabolizing it.

There’s an enzyme called liver alcohol dehydrogenase (LADH) that limits the amount of ethanol we can oxidize. A typical 155-pound man can oxidize one “drink” per hour. A drink is classified as 15 grams of ethanol, which is:

  • A standard 1.5-ounce shot of liquor (e.g. tequila).
  • A standard 355-millilitre bottle or can of beer.
  • A standard glass of wine.

Alcohol Prevents Fat Loss

Alcohol won’t be converted into any significant amount of fatty acids, so this isn’t necessarily a problem… unless you’re also eating other things.

Now, with drinks like beer and margaritas, there’s both alcohol and carbohydrates in there. That’s not likely to cause fat storage either. Like alcohol, carbs aren’t easily stored as body fat.

However, if you go out for midnight poutine after having those beers and margaritas, the fats in your meal can be stored as body fat. Plus, those alcohol and carb calories you have in your system will only run you deeper into a calorie surplus, causing more weight gain.

Alcohol Can Cause Nausea

You can feel nauseous after drinking because alcohol produces toxic byproducts called acetaldehyde and acetate. These are, in a sense, anti-alcoholism toxins. In small quantities, you won’t notice them. But if you drink too much, you’ll feel an aversion to alcohol in the future. At least for a while.

If you’re drinking responsibly, this won’t be an issue. It’s rare for 1–2 drinks to produce this effect. However, if you drink too much, it can certainly make it harder to eat enough to gain weight.

Alcohol Impairs Sleep

Alcohol can make people feel sleepy. It can even help people fall asleep. However, it prevents people from sleeping properly. That’s why it’s so common for people to sleep in after drinking, and yet still feel exhausted.

What’s happening is that alcohol is making us produce gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which makes it easier to fall asleep, but harder to fall into a deep sleep. It’s during our deep sleep that many of the benefits of rest occur.

Hangovers Kill Cardio

In my eight years of lifting, I’ve only thrown up twice. Once was when I was doing a military fitness test, the other was when I showed up at the gym hungover. In both cases, it was high-rep squats that did me in. My cardiovascular system just couldn’t handle it.

What’s interesting is that our strength holds up pretty well. Doesn’t matter if you’re hungover or not, a bigger muscle can produce more force. It’s really only our cardiovascular systems that take the hit. Sets end too soon, we need longer rest times, and we might have trouble finishing long workouts.

I started bulking up in my early twenties, and most of my bad workouts were the result of poor sleep caused by too much alcohol. It doesn’t take much. Have a few beers with friends, come home late, sleep fitfully, and then show up to the gym already exhausted.

If we aren’t able to outlift ourselves each workout, it gets hard to make progress. A poor workout here and there won’t matter. The good workouts can carry us through. But still, every poor workout is a missed opportunity to make progress.

Alcohol’s Impact on Testosterone

The research looking into alcohol and testosterone is confusing at first.

  • More testosterone? This study found that modest alcohol consumption increases our testosterone production by 19%.
  • No effect? This study found that moderate alcohol consumption doesn’t affect our testosterone at all.
  • Less testosterone? This study found that having three drinks per night caused a 7% drop in testosterone.
  • Much less testosterone? This study found that having ten drinks caused a 23% reduction in testosterone that lasted for 16 hours.

Now, what you might think is that this is just an example of a dose-response relationship. A little bit of alcohol boosts testosterone, whereas too much alcohol reduces testosterone. That’s true. Kind of.

So, first of all, having ten drinks isn’t good for you or your gains. The drop in testosterone is bad, but that’s just one of several problems.

However, whether you’re having one or three drinks per night, it won’t really have a big impact on your testosterone. These are fairly small and transient changes.

If you want to know more about testosterone and how it affects bulking, check out our article about testosterone. (It’s written by a urologist who’s qualified to talk about testosterone.)

Alcohol’s Impact on Muscle Growth

To build muscle, we need to turn the protein we eat into muscle mass. This process is called muscle-protein synthesis. Problem is, alcohol has been shown to impair muscle-protein synthesis. Theoretically, this would mean that consuming alcohol could reduce muscle growth.

However, this effect has only been found in alcoholics with a condition called chronic alcoholic myopathy (study). Alcoholics without that condition are able to maintain their muscle mass without issue (study).

Presumably, this means that having a drink or two in the evening won’t really have any impact on muscle growth at all.

Drinking Can Harm Compliance

The main way that alcohol will prevent you from building muscle is by sabotaging your compliance. Here are some things to watch out for:

  1. Forgetting to eat: alcohol causes most people to overeat. Perhaps they drink a bunch of beer and then eat a pizza. However, we aren’t most people. More often than not, we see ectomorphs filling up on alcohol and forgetting to eat proper meals.
  2. Ordering drinks that are full of sugar: there’s nothing wrong with a bit of sugar while bulking. In fact, sometimes it can help. Still, most experts recommend keeping your sugar intake below around 10% of your total calories. Make sure that your piña coladas aren’t sending you overboard.
  3. Showing up to the gym hungover: if you show up to the gym tired and hungover, it will be hard to have a productive workout.
  4. Failing to get proper sleep: if you have too much to drink before going to bed or if you stay out too late, then you might not get enough quality sleep. Sleep is incredibly important for building muscle. If alcohol harms your sleep, it will impair your ability to build muscle.
  5. The nocebo effect: if you think that drinking will harm your results, then it will. You’ll psych yourself out. Be confident in your ability to build muscle. You’re resilient. You’ve got this.

These mistakes can limit your muscle growth, but they have more to do with your habits surrounding alcohol than the alcohol itself.

Now, keep in mind that the difference between 90% and 100% compliance is negligible. It’s only when the occasional indulgence becomes a habit that you’ll start to notice your fitness goals sprinting off into the distance while you’re left gasping for breath.

Key Takeaway

You can enjoy a good beer in the evening while bulking. There’s no reason to think it will reduce your testosterone, stunt your muscle growth, or cause extra fat gain. But don’t make a habit of binge drinking, staying up past your bedtime, or showing up to the gym feeling haggard.

Cheers!

About Shane Duquette

Shane Duquette, BDes, is a writer and illustrator with a degree in design from York University. He co-founded Bony to Beastly and Bony to Bombshell, where he specializes in helping skinny people bulk up. More about Shane here.

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128 Comments

  1. ScoDala on January 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    That was an awesome well written article

    • Shane Duquette on January 29, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      Glad you liked it man!

  2. Aaron on January 28, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    This all sounds really good. What ‘med studies’ went into supporting the claims pertaining to the biochemistry? My understanding of ethanol metabolization is different, so it would be great if you cited those.

    • Shane Duquette on January 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      I got that stuff from a human metabolism textbook and from the sports performance nutrition gurus over at Precision Nutrition.

      How is what you know different? If I’ve fumbled anywhere I’m game to double check and correct where necessary 🙂

  3. gsunnyg on January 31, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    this is a lot different then what you normally hear about alcohol and its damaging effects on bodybuilding. Great to hear a different side.

    • Shane Duquette on February 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      Glad you liked it man! Typically the downsides are dependent on the dose. So long as you drink responsibly you should be just fine 🙂

  4. Lewis f on March 21, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Great post

  5. Flo on March 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    I’m telling you one thing. This article is bad and wrong. You drink alcohol your body is deshidrating. You need water to keep your body hydrated. So here is a BS. Sorry but really this article makes people confused 🙁

    So if you drink alcohol drink double the water of the amount of alcohol.

    • Shane Duquette on April 10, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Deshidrating, eh?
      Flo … are you drunk?

      😉

    • Doug on May 21, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Flo, you’re correct that alcohol is a diurectic. But, add water of 20 times its volume and you get beer which actually rehydrates you. 1 litre of beer ultimately gives you 500ml of water.
      Hear-say / mis-representation of facts is wrong and leads to the confusion you have!

      • Shane Duquette on May 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm

        Hey Doug, thanks for the comment man. That’s really interesting! I hadn’t heard that beer actually hydrated you more than it dehydrated you. That’s cool 🙂

        p.s. I edited out the idiot part of your comment. Hope that’s cool.

  6. Aaron A on April 27, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    That was extremely informative. I’m about to start a training cycle and love to drink so when I found this gold mine of a no-fluff article I was really impressed. Bookmarked immediately. You guys are doing great things. A buddy of mine always wondered how after some drinking nights he would have better abs than not, and I just related some of this to another buddy who’s trying to lose a few lbs. Good stuff man!

    • Shane Duquette on April 28, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      That’s awesome man, glad you liked the article!
      Ahaha yeah some guys drink on purpose the night before to appear leaner and more vascular the next day. A couple glasses of wine does a pretty good job of it 😉

      • Vlad on August 26, 2013 at 8:43 am

        Well, yeah, the thing about appearing leaner after a night of drinking is only due to the dehydrating effect of alcohol. You lose some water and appear leaner. And as any shortcut, it’s temporary and I assume far from healthy. So take it from a broader perspective (inspiration from Woody Harrelson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0Gm0TbSENw included . )

        • Shane Duquette on August 26, 2013 at 10:47 pm

          I wouldn’t really say flushing out some water retention is likely all too unhealthy, but you’re right, it’s just a trick some guys use, not any kind of longterm anything. 🙂

          Explains the phenomenon Aaron describes though!

          • Vlad on August 28, 2013 at 6:41 am

            Oh, I did not mean the actual loss of water, more so a habit that it might lead to.



  7. Matt on May 6, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Great article, both interesting and informative!

  8. Dan on July 3, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Great article mate. I have 2 or 3 beers a night and have been doing so for years. I’m 34 years old and weigh 78kg with an 82 cm waist. I always eat healthy and work out in some form most days. Great to see an article written with a different slant – am sick of all the doom and gloom articles re alcohol consumption!

    • Shane Duquette on July 4, 2013 at 2:14 am

      Right on man, glad to hear you’re able to enjoy a couple beers and still be fit as a fiddle 🙂

      • Dan on July 4, 2013 at 6:34 am

        Forgot to say I’m 180cm tall – skinny guys rock!

  9. ronnie on July 16, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Hi… nice read… nd especially relaxing for guy like me who loves his rum as well as his career as an actor where he needs to look super fit…. I want to know wat exactly is da measure of one drink u r refering to… is it 30ml or 60ml? Also , I wud like to mention dat j hav had several phasss in my life being an abstainer modrt drinker nd also an abuser….. dese phases cum in cycles… physique wise also I keep changing from fat to slim to super lean to fat…. depending on da lifestyle m undergoing at dat particular point of time…. ryt now m n abstainer nd pushing it hard to burn it out… ur article was quite inspiring …. its just dat aftr about a cupl of weeks of drinking regularly da intoxication threshold shoots up and I cant resist but increase da intake level…. goes upto 7 to 9 60ml pegs everyday….. workout n diet goes fr a toss… fats appear…. goes on till sum time in a daze…. one fine day da trance breaks nd I get into complete abstinance for months nd try to get bak in shape working out like an animal….. after reading ur article I soo feel like keeping it in modrtn nd enjoy both ends of life simultaneosly…. however cud u guide me as to the trick of feeling da buzz nd enjoying keeping myself restricted to a certain nmbr of drinks fr da rest of my life?

    • Shane Duquette on July 26, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      Some people handle alcohol better than others. If you’re susceptible to alcoholism you may find abstaining much more enjoyable and way better for you in the long run.

  10. innerpsychic on July 24, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Thank you for an intelligent and down to earth article written from a perspective of being a normal healthy person. I am so tired of all the mind-controlled freaks out there telling people how to live without really knowing very much!

    Obviously what you write is based on your experience as well as some education. I learned some useful things. Now I wish someone could do the same for a short, aged lady who has put on stubborn weight and loves a few beers a night ( They really help me to relax and sleep) I think I know the answer and it means quite a lot of exercise and attention to diet.

    • Shane Duquette on July 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      It may mean focusing on the big picture instead of the little details, and finding a way to understand how the two apart. Easier said than done, of course!

      A beer or two a night probably isn’t the source of your problems, and usually it’s a surplus of calories that leads to gaining stubborn weight.

      If you emphasize a nutritious diet made up mostly of whole foods … and then you eat at a calorie deficit, your fat should slowly shrink away.

      And, of course, exercise is also pretty key when it comes to being wickedly healthy and looking impressively fit 🙂

  11. Natural high not drunk on August 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    This article is just what people want to hear . That’s why I don’t trust it . Just like that friend you don’t like , they eventually start saying bull shit you wan to hear and you’re friends again. This is a Desperate plea for ratings and pseudo science to gain the trust of the lower self. I don’t drink to get buzzed or drunk because I know the body doesn’t want it and it inhibits muscle growth just like Tylenol or Advil does. Part of the bodies way of getting stronger is feeling sore so it knows what’s up . IE signaling muscle repair and sends nutrients to that area to rebuild. By drinking you really do inhibit that and it fucks up your immune system . ALCOHOL is a social thing and it’s ingrained in all cultures. You can still be social and not wreck your body , we only have so much time in this earthly vessel so I’ll take the safe route and save my liver and my body .

  12. Joe on August 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    If you could post the citation of alcohol not having an impact on protein synthesis… thatd be great 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on August 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      Hey Joe, thanks for asking for it! That point (k) was actually pretty poorly worded and somewhat arrogant on my part, and what I should have said is that there ISN’T a study showing that the two are in any way related – that it’s a leap to think that alcohol would impair protein synthesis. The absence of evidence, however, obviously doesn’t indicate the evidence of absence … so I shouldn’t have made the claim with so much certainty.

      I’ve adjusted it to sound less certain, and also tossed in a study to support the conclusion I drew.

      Thanks for pointing that out, and I hope this helps!

  13. Jane on September 5, 2013 at 3:29 am

    “This article is just what people want to hear . That’s why I don’t trust it .”
    “ALCOHOL is a social thing and it’s ingrained in all cultures. You can still be social and not wreck your body , we only have so much time in this earthly vessel so I’ll take the safe route and save my liver and my body ”
    .Im sorry to hear this, (naturally high)
    in order to distrust this, clearly you are well educated in the history of alcohol )in moderation)
    1) not much time is this earthly vessel? well that would depend on the individuals belief system,
    2) alcohol is a social thing? actually the monks created certain drinks but the ancients made it for the medicinal effects it has on the body, it is also a good pain killer and helped clean wounds in the past, in fact, alcohol is in a lot of modern medicines and drops.
    3) yes it will wreck your body as will most things like pollution, smoking and taking pills for pain…..if abused.

    Its nice that you feel your life is wonderful without all these things, great for you , but everyone is different, and far be it for you to ridicule the rest of the world, and remember some of these red wine drinkers hearts will still be healthy beating maybe long after yours as stopped (scientifically proven)

  14. kris on September 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    You are so grossly misinformed. 1) Alcohol is IMMEDIATELY converted to simple sugar after it reacts with our saliva, which unless you put it to anaerobic use, is immediately stored as fat. 2) Alcohol flushes our glycogen stores from our liver, where we get our energy. Drink just a beer or two before any strenuous exercise. 3) Alcohol DOES impair protein synthesis because it blocks the pathway required for the uptake by dehydrating the muscle cells. There actually are more scientifically proven reasons why. Do the research.

  15. Curllee on September 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Aren’t there other things to consider than one’s physique? Ok, let’s say that alcohol does not make you fat or skinny. But what does it do to other parts of your body? What about people who are concerned with their blood triglycerides or overall heart health? Surely you don’t refute all the science about those potential risks. . .

  16. Shane Duquette on September 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    (For heart health all I can find are the positive ones I posted in the article.)

  17. Jeff on September 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    3. Alcohol slows down your ‘fat-burning’ metabolism

    Your liver has to convert the alcohol you drink into acetate and then the acetate becomes your body’s main source of energy so instead of burning off ugly fat for energy…

    Acetate is now used meaning you do not burn any fat and…

    One study has already showed your body’s ability to burn fat decreases up to 73% for a few hours after having a couple of drinks and other studies say drinking more than a couple of drinks can lower your fat burning ability for up to 4 days.

    • Shane Duquette on September 22, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      Woot, glad that’s backed up elsewhere.

      This would go along well with point “F”, where I mention that fat oxidation is impaired with alcohol consumption.

      I pasted that into Google and I see the post it came from … but they don’t reference a study. Do you have it by chance?

      Could probably mention some more of the specifics 🙂

  18. Matt b on October 4, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    All I know is I’ve drank my whole life and I work my ass off doing physical labor I eat like a beast and im as healthy as an ox and wouldn’t you know I’m 29 and I creasing my muscle . I try not drinking but find that muscles and joints are more fatigued. Here’s to your health and hard work!! U do eat foods high in antioxidants . I climb and play sport run and have four kids. I seem to only get in better shape! Now do consider I have a fast metabolism but staying active from mind to bady takes the cake.

  19. Monica B. on October 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Well, Shane… I just want to say I think your article is LOVELY! You backed it up with plenty of ‘study information’. I really like how you handled some of the responses.. he he. Some people must not of actually read what you wrote being that you had to repeat yourself in following posts! I recently started reading your articles and I look forward to the up coming! Also, what more proof do you need when the results of the ‘experiment/study’ are right in front of you….You drink moderately, workout, and lead a healthy life style. Did they not see your picture… Some of my friends and I are the same way and we are Healthy and Fit! Hell… Maybe, later I will post a comment arguing with you about something you really did not even say! heh

    • Shane Duquette on October 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Monica.

      I look forward to getting in an argument with you. If that’s your plan – creating straw men – I think I’ll win … unless perhaps I’ve been drinking … 😉

      We’ve got four articles for women already written up and they’re saweeet. Just waiting to finish up the http://www.bonytobombshell.com blog so that we’ve got a platform to publish ’em from. Stay tuned!

      We’re also posting a new Bony to Beastly article tomorrow, so stay tuned for that too.

  20. rachel mai on October 16, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Seems to me that it is largely a matter of context.

    Traditionally the French eat a lot of rich food including high fat cheeses and a fairly high alcohol consumption and have very little heart disease. If you have ever been in France, nearly everyone is skinny. Or at least they were last time I was there. It has been a few years aand EEC. regulations may have messed up the quality of their food too.

    American food is a mess unless you seek out food produced organically by healthy means.

    People on natural traditional diets have mainly consumed alcohol and been fine so long as their lives are fairly well balanced and they don’t have alcoholic tendencies.

    • Shane Duquette on October 16, 2013 at 11:24 pm

      Exactly!

      Well said Rachel.

      (As for organic, that may not even be necessary. Whole food in general is pretty good. That’s totally a matter of personal values, budget and circumstance though.)

      • rachel mai on October 16, 2013 at 11:37 pm

        Thank you Shane!

        Most of these people here are not old. I am a nutritionist(among other things) and pretty into the science of food values. Wholefoods are best but if you knew about commercial food production you would probably be a lot more in favour of organic and a bit freaked out about commercial.

        I am ooften broke and my income fluctuates a lot but I make sure that me and my pets consume organic as much as possible. Or at least the better produced foods.

        Chicken, eggs, fruit and veg. nearly all organic Meat. Beef I cannot alwys afford organic but I eat it for the protein.

        When you consume commercial produce you are eating irradiated chemically saturated food that has no minerals. It’s true that young people appear wuite well on this food generally but it is also a fact that by midlife many have had various organs removed and cancer is 100 times more prevelant than it was 120 years ago.

        I know some of that can be put down to environmental pollution generally. However what we ingest is the biggest culprit.

        If you habitually eat organic produce you will be turned off by the other kind. In the long run it does make a difference but you wont find that acknowleged too much in any popular media including most of the internet. People are not being told the truth about food.

        • Shane Duquette on October 16, 2013 at 11:44 pm

          Hmm, are you talking about factory farms versus family farms, local vs imported, or organic versus conventional?

          Organic can be from a factory farm and loaded full of just as much pesticides as conventionally grown foods. Similarly, conventionally grown foods can be farmed by small local farmers who use minimal pesticides.

          Organic just means non-GMO and no synthetic pesticides and herbicides. It has nothing to do with commercial/non-commercial, corporate or non-corporate, pesticides or no pesticides, etc.

          I think I might not be understanding you though?

          • rachel mai on October 16, 2013 at 11:54 pm

            I don’t disagree with you, but to be labeled “organic food by law has to be grown without chemical fertilisers and pesticides and not be geneically engineered. It also cannot be irradiated.
            It still is normally produced in a commercial operation but I was usung the word “commercial” to indicate food produced the way it is produced in mass production farms. I could go into detail but I won’t.

            People generally still don’t know what they are eating and what it does to their bodies.
            The damage from eating food produced the way most people’s food is grown may take a long time to show up but it does sooner or later.

            You are not stupid and I think you take care of your health quite well. We can get away with a certain amount of non perfect foods in our diet, especially if other factors are in our favour, such as healthy relationships, occupations and a generally rewarding lifestyle.

            I am not in favor of being rigid about things. I just wish people knew more about the environment they are living in.



          • Shane Duquette on October 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm

            “We can get away with a certain amount of non perfect foods in our diet, especially if other factors are in our favour, such as healthy relationships, occupations and a generally rewarding lifestyle.”

            So, so true! Could not agree more.

            “I am not in favor of being rigid about things.”

            Agreed. I think you need to know enough to take care of the fundamentals – the stuff that makes the difference – but beyond that, striving for total perfection is often counterproductive.

            We seem to agree on the end goal, just perhaps not some of the much finer details about how to get there 😉



        • Shane Duquette on October 16, 2013 at 11:50 pm

          Living longer and a better understanding of the human body are also culprits when it comes to the increasing rates of cancer!

          Cancer happens to a lot of us in old age. Now that so many of us are reaching old age, more of us are dying of cancer. (We used to die out younger from a variety of other causes, like plagues, “consumption”, infections, etc.)

          We all need to die of something, and these days we’re a lot better at diagnosing the cause of death. So a lot of deaths are now attributed to cancer whereas before they were mysteries. The cause of death in humans often heart disease or cancer, and, assuming we’ve lived 80-90 years … that’s not so bad!

          I don’t disagree though. If we can reduce our chances of getting cancer then that would of course imply that we could live even longer!

          • rachel mai on October 17, 2013 at 2:57 am

            Conventional belief.

            Once you remove death in infancy, childbirth and from septacemea people actually lived as long or longer than they do now on average. You can research this if you like. But apart from those things they were healthier than modern people.

            Also I don’t know if you haven people with inoperable cancer but in many cases it appears on the outside of the body.

            100-120 years ago cancer was not being misdiagnosed. Ever. They had doctors, x-rays and everything needed to detect it. It was not very common.

            A whole medeaivel village in England was recently dug up. The skeletons had no tooth decay, no arthritis, were better formed and most of them were of old people. Organic food, fresh air and plenty of activity obviously had benefits. All waste was returned to the fields. They used manure and crop rotation. Their bodies were not starved of minerals.

            You may not know this but they may have drunk beer and not water as much water was not safe at those times.

            The things you are saying about health and longevity are what most people say. It is possible to read up on it and find out the truth if you are interested.



          • Shane Duquette on October 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm

            Yeah! I’ve heard that same argument from the Paleo community – that even many thousands of years ago humans were able to live quite long lives. I’ve never looked into it. Really interesting.

            Whatever reason people died younger, that would still reduce the rate of old-age diseases, no? From what I can gather my understanding is that we’ve gotten a lot better at recognizing and treating cancer. That’s a whole other topic though, and admittedly one I know very little about.

            As for non-organic food being the source of all these troubles, I just don’t think we can make that claim. They’ve been around for several decades now and the studies aren’t finding any problems! (Keep in mind these studies are funded by government organizations from around the world, anti-GMO organizations, pro-GMO organizations, WHO, etc. We’re not talking about just partisan Monsanto studies or anything.)

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2013/10/14/2000-reasons-why-gmos-are-safe-to-eat-and-environmentally-sustainable/

            Crop rotation, staying away from mono-cultures, and some other traditional farming practices are great. They’re practiced by organic and non-organic farms. (Although I know those practices are more common with organic foods.)

            Organic foods run into problems of their own, too. Their pesticides and herbicides, like rotenone, are more often more toxic than the non-organic ones. They run into more toxic contamination issues too, since they’re often less strictly regulated. They also run into the downsides of using manure – bacterial issues (E. Coli, etc.)

            http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2011/07/18/mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture/

            That isn’t to say that organic is bad – far from it. I love organic food and eat tons of it. You make a valid point that they’re a little higher in some nutrients sometimes too. That’s a fairly negligible difference though, I’d say (it seems, based on the current evidence).

            I also think opting for locally grown food from trusted sources (organic or not) is great, circumstances permitting. That’s definitely my preference as well.

            I suspect that the problem our generation faces has more to do with more inactivity + slightly more calories + more processed foods. (Fresh air may play a role too – I don’t know.)

            That’s a tough issue though. It’s very hard to say for sure, and many people dedicate their entire careers to figuring that out and still haven’t reached a consensus.

            Just because most people say something doesn’t mean it’s wrong! 😉



  21. Monica B. on October 17, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Super pumped for the women’s articles. I have just flat lined at the weight and size I am at the moment. At this long moment…. I am a certified Muay Thai Kickboxing/Kickboxing instructor and working toward a self-defense/combative certification AND I am starting my personal trainer certificate. I am always up and running. In ways that activity has been a benefit and a huge speed bump. Instead of just taking the protein I was advised to take I recently started experimenting with protein, carb., and fat intake for my body.
    Something not so extreme. I sure in the hell had a hard time trying to fit in so many meals per day. It is discouraging. I have been stuck at 113 lbs. for years.

    Sooo…reading your articles lit that under your ass fire back up (the motivational under your ass fire not the food poisoning one)! I hope the women’s articles help! I am shooting for the gain again. Instead of working to just maintain.

    • Shane Duquette on October 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      Ah that’s awesome Monica!

      If you’re looking to build some muscle and strength that’s our specialty as far as women go too – you should consider signing up for our Bony to Bombshell beta test! We’re just finishing it up.

      Why so many meals? Only way to consume enough calories?

      “not the food poisoning one!”

      Ahahahahahhaa

      • Monica B. on October 19, 2013 at 1:35 pm

        Yes to the calorie consuming. Also for the metabolism boost and health benefits of fresh veggies and fruit. I did not want to have to take a bunch of supplements to get all those vitamins, minerals, protein, etc…They are not big meals. Just hard to squeeze it all in! Some say 5-6 meals is the correct amount and others disagree. Sooo…I am at a loss!? Thoughts? I will for sure check out the beta test.

        • Shane Duquette on October 21, 2013 at 9:03 pm

          Well it’s a myth that you need to eat frequently for metabolism boosts or anything like that.

          That doesn’t mean there aren’t any pros or cons – for a lot of us thin guys ‘n gals it makes more sense to eat more frequently simply because we find our stomachs are rather small. We thus handle snacks and small meals well.

          Check this out:
          http://bonytobeastly.com/muscle-building-myth-5-thinking-you-need-to-eat-every-2-3-hours/

  22. Rita on November 12, 2013 at 10:16 am

    So, I drink 1-3 glasses of wine every night, workout 5 days a week, and eat mostly organic/Paleo. I took a quiz online that said only 4% of women drink more than me and that I better think seriously about seeking professional help for my drinking “problem.” Yet, according to your article, I would be at the top of the U-curve. Is an average of two glasses of wine with food at night really grounds for needing “professional help”?

    • Shane Duquette on November 12, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Sadly your ‘ideal’ intake would indeed likely be fewer than 7-14, yeah, since it sounds like you’re a woman.

      You’d be on the slight downward slope though, not flirting with alcoholism, so I suspect your average of 1-3 is better than abstinence, just not better than one drink per day.

      Although who’s really to say – different people handle different things differently. I love my grains, legumes and dairy, but some people feel best eating more Paleo. Some people adore how coffee makes them feel, others get all jittery and anxious.

      If you enjoy drinking the wine and wake up in the morning feeling great my guess would be that you’re okay 🙂

      -Shane

      p.s. We’ve got a blog coming soon for women – Bony to Bombshell.

      • Rita on November 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

        Thanks, Shane. I really appreciate reading your view about personalizing the diet, and that not being a teetotaler is perfectly normal. A lot of those puritanical articles out there are without sound science and create unnecessary self-doubt. Maybe it’s time to re-read The Drunk Diet!

        • Shane Duquette on November 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm

          Ahahaha that title scares and intrigues me!

          Woot – glad to hear it Rita 🙂

  23. Mandie on November 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    I did a 90 day no alcohol challenge and was very proud of myself for doing that. In about 100 days i have changed my health style completely and dropped from 26% body fat to 18.2% and now this weekend i would like to go out and drink and have some fun. I was worried about setting myself back a couple of days, even though what i drink is vodka and water. I liked the article because it made me feel like i wouldn’t set myself back that much, if at all. Some other comments kinda made me feel like it would. OHHH the decisions to make. 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on November 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      That’s super impressive Mandie, congratulations! 18.2 percent body fat is crazy low as a woman. (That’s like being 6% body fat as a man.) Do you enjoy it?

      As far as what will set you back and what won’t, just remember to focus on the big picture!

      A couple drinks one won’t matter at all. A couple drinks every day, in the context of a healthy lifestyle, won’t even matter.

      I wouldn’t stress too much, and instead try and lead a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle. You can do that equally well as a drinker or a non-drinker, so I’d just go with your personal preferences and what makes you feel your best.

      Sounds like you’re already accomplishing pretty impressive feats! 🙂

      • Mandie on November 15, 2013 at 2:13 pm

        Thank you!!! I love it but I actually thought I’d be much leaner. Don’t get me wrong, I am lean and seeing major differences and more definition. I still have that stubborn cellulite on my legs and some love handles 🙂 but thank you for your insite I appreciate it!

        • Shane Duquette on November 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm

          Hrmm well we’re going off-topic here, but bear with me?

          Your cellulite has to do with your fascia. Fascia is a layer of fibrous tissue that surrounds muscle groups and fat. It holds things in place. It’s sort of like a net.

          Different people have different densities of fascia. Some fascia is like fishnet stockings – big gaps. Some is like regular stockings – very tiny gaps. This is genetic, and men tend to have much denser fascia than women.

          Cellulite is what happens when fat presses up against loose fascia – it sort of bubbles out of the gaps. It’s rare among men, because their fascia is dense, but very very common in women, since theirs often isn’t. Something like 90% of women have cellulite.

          Cellulite is more apparent when you have more fat, since more fat is pressing up against the fascia … but you can’t really change the density of your fascia so, considering that you can’t ever get to 0% body fat, you may always have a certain degree of cellulite.

          The good news though is that cellulite doesn’t really matter. I know some women don’t like having it, so I totally get why you want to get rid of it, but it’s not at all unhealthy and it’s not even remotely unattractive (at least as far as us men are concerned). It’s kind of just how women’s bodies are, and (straight) men, well, we tend to love women’s bodies for how they are.

          It’s also common to be surprised at how lean you aren’t. I feel the same. I’ve got abs under any lighting and my body fat percentage is quite low, but I’m not even remotely close to being as lean as someone on the cover of a magazine. They intentionally peak before photo shoots, venturing very very temporarily into lower body fat percentages than aren’t maintainable (or healthy), they temporarily dehydrate themselves to make themselves appear even leaner than they are, and then the photos are made even crisper with photo editing tools. Since we’re often so accustomed to seeing images like that, and things are always rather relative, it’s pretty damn near impossible to ever look crazy lean in the mirror. Even the people on the covers don’t look anything close to that in the mirror!

          Luckily, unless you’re a fitness model or bodybuilding enthusiast, that isn’t necessary or even ideal. 20% as a women is very lean, often very healthy (everyone does best at a different body fat percentage) and within the range of what’s generally considered totally optimally attractive (19-25% or so for most women in the eyes of most men). It’s similar to how 8% looks on a man – at the lean side of maximally attractive and maximally attractive. (With the maximally attractive range for men being something like 8-12%.)

          You can continue to get leaner of course, if you like – we all have different goals – just be careful about letting it affect your health, mood and sex drive!

          (I would say the same to a man looking to go much under 8%. We usually feel and look our best at 8-12%, depending on our genetics and preferences, so it’s not without its downsides! Naturally lean people often feel best closer to 8, whereas naturally chubbier guys feel best closer to 12, and sometimes even higher. Maintaining a lower body fat percentage than that often makes us feel weaker, crushes our sex drive and results in perpetual and insatiable hunger.)

          Anyway, good luck Mandie! You’re obviously amazing at this, so I’m sure you’ll keep kicking ass – just my two cents as a fitness nerd 😀

          • Mandie on November 15, 2013 at 10:33 pm

            Wow it’s never really been explained like that to me. I appreciate you taking the time to do so!!! At this point in time I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been. As for the sex drive lol lets not even go there! So I will continue to do as I am until it affects those areas 🙂 thanks again!



  24. BadToTheBone on December 9, 2013 at 5:07 am

    Alcohol Impairs fat oxidation, but fat oxidation does not mean fat burning. Get your facts straight. In addition, alcohol actually improves insulin sensitivity, which is an advantage for someone who wants to lose fat or build muscle.

  25. John on December 16, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Oh yeah, go ahead and become alcoholics you dumb fucks. Way to go. I was really impressed by this website up until I found this article. Now I’m very disappointed. People nowadays will find an excuse in anything to get drunk and flood their body with poison, seems you are no different then. Too bad. I certainly won’t pay money for some program made by people who recommend me to use DRUGS, which alcohol CERTAINLY is. Why not invest in STEROIDS instead of beer? Will help you alot more in getting jacked;)

  26. Jacob on January 25, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Well this article put me at ease. I figured a lot of the anti alcohol was bro science. Hell my little brother trains hard, eats clean and drinks like a fish (tried to get him to stop) and he is a beast. I shant worry about my two beers a week any longer.

  27. Miles on July 5, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    “I) You may wonder why alcohol makes you sleepy, and then oversleep, and then remain tired the next day. This is due to the release of the inhibitor gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which makes it easier to fall asleep, but harder to fall into a deep sleep, where the real benefits of rest occur.”

    Is it the GABA that makes it hard to fall into a deep sleep or the alcohol that produced it?

    • Shane Duquette on July 6, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      I think this is just semantics. Isn’t that like asking “is it the protein that caused the muscle protein synthesis, or the amino acids that our body broke the protein down into that caused the muscle protein synthesis?”

      My understanding is that the alcohol causes the release of the GABA and the GABA makes it harder for your body to fall into a deep sleep.

      • Leo M on April 20, 2015 at 8:38 am

        GABA is a neurotransmitter responsible for the sensation of emotions such as anxiety, there is a correlation between anxiety disorders and an overabundance of GABA. This could explain why I feel anxious the next day if I have a few drinks without eating. Not to mention this could explain how those more susceptible to anxiety (as I am) would potentially be more vulnerable to the negative effects of alcohol.

        Additionally alcohol is a depressant which slows/disrupts the circadian rhythms in your brain/body – this could potentially disrupt the release of hormones (e.g. human growth hormone, testoterone), neurotransmitters, and as has been mentioned elsewhere, disrupts cycles of stage 3 & 4 deep sleep and REM sleep. Deep sleep is when most tissue repair occurs in the body and if this is disrupted it will inhibit gains. Sleep disruption can also cause the body to retain more weight – studies have found weight gain in sleep deprived rodents and male adults. So in the long term it may actually ruin those abs.

        Also it’s extremely hard to determine causality from studies which have found abstainers to have shorter lifespans. This is because it’s a correlation (or association). It can’t be proved that ‘abstaining from alcohol’ causes a ‘reduction in lifespan’ because there could be any number of mediating variables (unseen factors which work in between these two variables). For example it may be possible that people with weaker immune systems (or underlying health problems which shorten their lifespan) are less likely to drink alcohol, because alcohol would cause even more problems to their health. So in this case it may appear that abstaining shortens lifespan,however people who abstain may have shorter lifespans/vulnerabilities to start with.

        I’ve also personally found that moderate alcohol intake suppresses my immune response – so many times I’ve got ill with colds a day or two after drinking. Once I had a slight sore throat, went out for a few drinks (not a lot) and the next day woke up with full blown tonsillar absesses. Had to go to the hospital for a week as I couldn’t eat/drink,my throat needed draining with needle, and I had to be placed on an IV.

        I would suggest that past 1-2 drinks per day you’re potentially setting yourself up for addiction, negative mood, immunosuppression and poor tissue repair in the body. However I would suggest that many peer reviewed articles (including the studies I’ve mentioned) may have methodological issues and their results may not have been replicated in other studies. Not to mention the many studies which find non-significant results (e.g. those which find that alcohol doesn’t improve metabolism), are likely to not be deemed interesting enough for publication. This leads to a bias in medical/psychological journals, where significant results are published to the exclusion of non-significant results. Long story short, even peer-reviewed studies need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

        I think the potential risks of drinking outweigh the benefits so I’ll only drink once in a while. I think everyone should strive to be uninhibited party animals without needing alcohol! I thought your article was interesting though and I love the b2b program!

        • Shane Duquette on April 23, 2015 at 12:53 pm

          Hey Leo,

          Thank you for the really insightful and thoughtful comment! Super interesting stuff about the anxiety. That makes so much sense.

          Some people definitely handle alcohol better than others, and if you notice that it harms you more than it helps, then it’s indeed probably best that you limit it quite a bit. And I definitely agree with you that drinking in excess, especially rather late at night, can radically reduce the quality of your sleep. It seems like the best time to drink is in the evening before/during dinner, and the best quantity, while it varies with everyone, is a drink or three—not five.

          As wonderful an idea as it might seem at the time, ordering up a few shots at last call is a sure way to sleep very poorly hehe. And you’re so so right about the importance of sleep 🙂

          Glad you dug the article, and the program!! Thank you again for the comment!

  28. Phil DeLaCroix on September 18, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Excellent article! Very intelligently writen. I do not notice any impact on my size since i’ve starded drinking 2 drinks a day in the last year or so… quite the opposite. Also started being Vegan at around the same time with ”lower than recommended” protein intake at around 70-100g a day (for a 6’3” 235 pound man) with still no difference in size except for less fat and more muscle. All that money wasted on protein supplement in the years before that… 🙁 Most ”common knowlege” in bodybuilding is BS. Cheers.

    • Shane Duquette on September 19, 2014 at 11:50 am

      Thanks, Phil—and congratulations on your progress! 6’3 and 235 is pretty damn beastly 🙂

      When you grow accustomed to weightlifting and consuming a higher protein intake it’s been theorized that the body becomes more efficient at processing protein, and we need to consume less. Moreover, there’s a big difference between what’s required to maintain muscle mass versus what’s required to build muscle mass. For someone who’s new to building muscle, who is looking to gain muscle instead of just maintain, who’s looking for rapid results instead of steady progress, etc… most studies conclude that they’d do better on a higher protein intake.

      With that said, you’re right—most people drastically overestimate the amount of protein they need to consume. We have an article on that too 🙂
      http://bonytobeastly.com/carb-or-protein-diet-for-ectomorphs/

  29. Mike on October 2, 2014 at 2:43 am

    Have you considered
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1296731/pdf/jrsocmed00033-0007.pdf

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379705000127

    Considering these articles the title “why you should drink” is misleading.

    Also I suggest to define a maximal recommended amount on a daily basis and not like you did as 7-14 drinks a week. This could be interpreted as drinking 14 drinks a day and then no alcohol for the rest of the week. 14 drinks a day would clearly account for binge drinking whose detrimental effects on health, especially brain functioning, are well established.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2607328/
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925492712001825

    • Shane Duquette on October 3, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      The first study you linked to agreed with the consensus that there’s a slight protective effect of drinking when it comes to heart disease, although they point out that it may be exaggerated (although still true). They’re arguing that we shouldn’t treat alcohol like a supplement or miracle drug, and I agree. The second article (although I haven’t read the whole thing) seems to conclude that there’s likely a protective effect of alcohol, but that’s it’s too soon to know for sure. That seems prudent to me, and lines up with the tone we were trying to have in this article.

      There are other more recent studies that suggest that there are heart benefits to abstaining from drinking too:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25011450

      You make a good point, and I’m going to keep seeing what comes out in the coming months/years to see if the body of evidence starts to suggest something different.

      You’re right—the “Why You Should Drink” title is a little misleading. I wasn’t so much trying to say that you should drink, but rather here are some reasons why you would want to. I think the content of the article clears up the ambiguity though, no? I could definitely add a bit in to make it clearer.

      And yes, binge drinking is bad news. We say that very clearly though! Could make it clearer, yeah.

      (And this stuff is always something to discuss with your doc, not just go with verbatim based on internet advice.)

      • Mike on October 4, 2014 at 1:06 am

        Why moderate drinking appears to be beneficial (from the second study I sourced) “Overall, 90% of risk factors were significantly more common among nondrinkers; only 2 risk factors were more common among moderate drinkers. Furthermore, among factors with multiple risk categories, higher levels of risk (e.g., the highest BMI category) were progressively more strongly associated with nondrinking status. The findings were similar before and after adjusting for age and gender, and after excluding those with poor health or a history of CVD from the analysis. These results suggest that residual confounding or unmeasured effect modification would bias observational studies in favor of moderate drinkers.”

        Why it might be dangerous to promote drinking in order to get health benefits which can be achieved through other means. (Moderation is key but might no be as easily realized because of the addictive properties of alcohol, peer pressure and possibly other factors)
        “Alcohol, which damages virtually every organ system, claims more than 80,000 lives each year in the United States alone, and is responsible for about one-third of all fatal car crashes, half of all homicides, one-third of all suicides and one-third of all hospital admissions.”
        http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v468/n7323/full/468475a.html

        How alcohol ranks among other recreational drugs. As most people seem not being able to socialize sober the drug of choice should be chosen by scientific means.
        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673610614626

        Sorry about my second comment, probably could have inferred this from the note that the “comment is awaiting moderation”.

        I like the fact that you are open to discussions as normally there is a lot of cherry-picking going on….

        • Shane Duquette on October 4, 2014 at 5:33 pm

          Some people don’t handle moderation well, and for many people who are prone to alcoholism, abstinence is best. No argument there. However, in general restriction causes people to fetishize things, making moderation less likely if they succumb to temptation. If you were to restrict sugar, say, then you may find yourself craving it, and then when you DO have it, it’s nearly impossible not to binge on it. This phenomenon has been confirmed by many studies (study). I don’t think we can necessarily generalize and say that the best way to avoid binge drinking is avoid drinking altogether. Especially since many people aren’t inclined to binge drink or become alcoholics anyway. I think this likely depends on the person.

          For many, the best way to develop a healthy relationship with alcohol may to be to learn to have it in moderation, not to abstain.

          Furthermore, if abstaining from alcohol is correlated with all of these risk factors… it’s hard to figure out what the causal factor is here. Why do the moderate drinkers have so many fewer risk factors? Is it possible that having a healthy relationship with alcohol (neither being scared of it nor drinking too much of it) is helpful in some way? Perhaps learning to drink in moderation fosters better self control or something (as the above study suggests), or perhaps better self control fosters better drinking habits (as logic would suggest. Perhaps both. Regardless, there doesn’t seem to be much of a problem with drinking in moderation.

          A lot of those awful things you’re mentioning about alcohol come from excessive consumption. I mean, people who eat too much food run the risk of becoming morbidly obese and dying from it. That doesn’t mean that consuming food is bad for you, but rather that consuming excessive amounts of food is bad for you. The same may be true with alcohol, and you’ll surely get no argument from anyone that consuming too much alcohol is a bad thing.

          (I don’t have access to the full version of that drug analysis study you posted.)

          • Mike on October 6, 2014 at 5:15 am

            I found this study which supports your claim about the cardioprotective properties of “moderate” alcohol consumption. However their definition of “moderate” differs from yours.

            Furthermore the mean age of the study population (Table 1) is 50y. I can’t find any restrictions of your cardioprotective claims in terms of age.

            I also found this study which is allegedly a study of good quality. However the authors restricted their analysis to health care professionals. (A non-representative socio-economic group with respect to the whole population.)
            “In this study, we focused on a tightly restricted group of participants, that is, nonsmoking male health professional.”
            Additionally one of the authors (Eric Rimm) received funding “from industry-related organizations (Distilled Spirits Council and National Beer Wholesalers Association). He is also author of several other studies relating to the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.
            Again the study populations mean age is 50y. (Table 1)

            Another recent (2010) article from Nature concludes that “Our data suggest that it is clearly premature to promote alcohol consumption as the basis of CV protection until such time as the causal role of alcohol in cardioprotection is fully proven.” (the mean age here is 40y)

            Another REVIEW which investigates moderate alcohol consumption and brain health. (table 3 gives a good overview about methodological flaws in studies pertaining alcohol use)

            Causal factors cannot be inferred by using epidemiological study design. What is needed is a randomized control trial.



          • Shane Duquette on October 8, 2014 at 2:50 pm

            Check this study out, which includes some experimental studies. It also talks about possible mechanisms for why alcohol is improving markers of health—super fascinating!



          • Shane Duquette on October 8, 2014 at 3:03 pm

            The definition of moderate consumption in the study you link to doesn’t really differ from ours. They’re saying that drinking around one-ish (okay—ever so slightly less) drink per day is better for your heart health than drinking less than one per week, however increasing consumption of alcohol up to 2 drinks per day starts to become associated with a greater risk of heart disease. That lines up well with the 1-drink-per-day findings of the other studies I’ve come across. It’s not exactly the same, but very similar.(The main difference being that instead of 1-3 being the ideal zone, it’s 0.75-1.5 or some such.)

            Anyway, I’ve changed the article to include more “seems” and “currently” and “perhaps”. And I double checked to make sure that we weren’t recommending that people take up alcohol consumption for supposed health benefits and whatnot, although that study up above indicates that for older guys… going from a non-drinking to a moderate drinker may indeed improve heart health! (But I haven’t yet come across a doctor recommending alcohol as a way of preventing disease.)



          • Mike on October 8, 2014 at 3:15 am

            The latest study using mendelian randomization and a very large sample size



          • Shane Duquette on October 8, 2014 at 2:40 pm

            The findings of that study may be accurate, but the study itself likely has some problems. They divided the groups up based on whether or not people had a rare allele that caused uncomfortable face flushing and poor alcohol processing. The problem is that while they’re trying to remove confounders, the allele may actually be related to cardiovascular disease (CVD), so it’s hard to figure out if the effects are due to a reduced alcohol intake or due to something else. Critiques of the study point out that the allele itself may have an effect on CVD.

            There are other similar studies looking into other alleles that are associated with reduced alcohol consumption. This one questioning all the studies that found improved cognitive function in people who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol.

            The challenge with these studies is that, while they attempt to remove confounding variables by focusing on genetic variations that naturally restrict alcohol consumption, they may not actually do a very good job of it. In the above study, the researchers noted that it only explained 3% of the variance in alcohol intake… which doesn’t do a very good job of categorizing people into non-drinkers and moderate drinkers in an un-biased fashion. The same may be true in the cardiovascular disease study—I don’t know.

            The very weird thing about this study is that there’s a large body of evidence (including clinical trials!) finding a positive correlation between HDL (aka “good cholesterol”) and moderate alcohol consumption… while this study found none. Without the positive HDL being taken into consideration, which is the supposed benefit of drinking in the first place, it would follow that there’d be no benefit. As such, the allele may be a poor way to divide up participants.

            Anyway, the main critique of the study is that it’s overreaching in its conclusions. It may be right, it may not be. But it’s way too early to say with any degree of certainty!

            (It wouldn’t surprise me though. It’s indeed largely unexplained why moderate alcohol consumption seems to be good for our health. It may turn out that it isn’t!)

            Most experts still feel that overall body of evidence—including studies like this one—indicates that light/moderate alcohol consumption is cardioprotective. I think we should wait and see though.



          • Shane Duquette on October 9, 2014 at 6:52 pm

            Also, thank you for passing along all this research! This has me more intrigued than ever 🙂



  30. Mike on October 3, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Why did you delete my comment?

    • Shane Duquette on October 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm

      Hey Mike, we didn’t delete it, it just wasn’t automatically approved because it contained a bunch of links. Normally comments with a bunch of links are spam, so our system automatically flags them for manual approval. That’s why this comment was cleared immediately, while the other one got held up for a bit. In your case, you’re a like-minded evidence-based dude, so we’ve approved it 🙂

  31. Oli S on November 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I was actually having a beer while reading this article, and I love it! But since you’re actually advocation alcohol consumption while on a diet that kinda goes without saying haha.
    Anyways, it may need be exactly on topic but since de-/hydration was mentioned in the comments, any word on using creatine while keeping your liver busy? I’ve heared it time and time again that alcohol and creatine don’t mix too well.
    That is, alcohol neglects any positive effect creatine may have, not that you should actually mix them.
    Cheers

    • Shane Duquette on November 7, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Ahaha I love it!

      I’m not advocating alcohol consumption per se, just saying there’s no need to fear it, feel guilty about it, or feel like it would sabotage your results 🙂

      I wouldn’t think that alcohol would neglect the effects of creatine, but I definitely see what you’re saying—alcohol is dehydrating you and creatine is increasing your need for water. However if you’re talking about having a beer or two the dehydration would be very very minimal. And if you’re taking just 5g of creatine per day—not doing any kind of crazy loading phase I mean—then the effects would be so mild that I can’t imagine it being a problem. I think beer, what with all the fluid in it in relation to the alcohol, isn’t even very dehydrating.

      I imagine it would be wise to consume plenty of water though, aiming for several clear urinations per day (alongside however many dark-ish ones) to guarantee that you aren’t dehydrated.

      And I should add that I’m mostly just guessing here. This is probably a question for your doc!

  32. Jack B on December 29, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Shane – excellent article. I have always been a regular drinker (socially) but I have always loved my sport and exercise kinda goes hand in hand. I did an experiment on myself whilst I was working in Dubai (3 years) I gave up drinking but just ate what I wanted and did both resistance anaerobic exercise on a daily basis – I lost a little weight but I was kind of fat/skinny – remember no alcohol. Ok I got back to the UK and started tennis again but some body weight exercise but dramatically cut down on eating and again no alcohol – guess what lost weight but kinda fat/skinny. So started my new job recently (social opportunities) started drinking shots of vodka but changed my diet to lean proteins, vegetables and fruit and plenty of water and boosted my resistance training – and guess what – in the best shape of my life with significant gains and improvements all the time – just goes to prove if you get every thing else right you can have a regular drink … no problem.

    • Shane Duquette on December 29, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      Hah that’s awesome, Jack! Definitely shows that socially enjoying some drinks—when paired with a healthy lifestyle—is no problem at all (for most people). Glad to hear it, man 😀

      Keep up the good work!

  33. Phil on March 21, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Wouldn’t the point about alcohol messing up our sleep be a good reason to avoid it? Like you say, it means missing out on that vital deep rem sleep.

    • Shane Duquette on March 22, 2015 at 10:15 am

      That’s a very good point! The healthiest way to consume alcohol seems to be a couple drinks drinks with dinner. Early enough and moderate enough that it doesn’t interfere with sleep at all. Drinking a lot and/or right before bed would definitely mess up your sleep (which is incredibly important)!

  34. Mr.D on April 26, 2015 at 6:21 am

    Thanks for this well written article definitely makes me feel less guilty about my antics last night as in far too harsh on myself.

  35. Denise on June 30, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Ahh this article and some of the comments explains SO much about my recent weight gain and why my abs looked better when I went from near abstinence to ~6 drinks/week (all consumed in one night, but still). I couldn’t understand why I still felt and looked healthy when alcohol is supposed to be this awful monster. Thank you so much for allaying my fears!

  36. Vincent on July 6, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Hey Shane,
    I’m a Belgian student, 18 years old (in Belgium you can drink soft drinks like beer and wine from the age of 16). In Belgium we have a lot of great beers, and most of us like to drink them regularly 😉

    I like to go out with friends. But I often tend to lose a few pounds the next day after drinking.
    The day of drinking I just eat normal, I’m bulking with 3200kcals right now. At night I go out and drink between 5-10 beers (mostly 7-8) in 4-5hours. This is between +/- 500-1100kcals. Mostly my friends and me don’t eat anything after this. The next day I always take a rest day from the gym and eat a bit less, mostly 2000-2500kcals. The second day I continue my normal bulking habits in terms of eating and training.

    But how is it possible that I lose weight with all these calories, since losing 1kg takes 3500kcals? Mostly I lose between 2-4lbs and it takes me at least 3 days to get to my old weight. Is it from the dehydration? But is it possible that dehydration takes 3 days to ‘recover’?

    I’m going to University in a few months, and I know that they go out a lot over there. So I’m a bit worried about gaining muscle if I go out every week. I know it’s definitely not optimal for gaining muscle but I want to enjoy the student life a bit too…

    I know that 5-10 drinks at night isn’t very healthy (with 10 drinks only once per 2 months or so)… But most of my friends even drink between 10-15 beers every time…

    (Excuse me for my bad English 😉 )

    • Shane Duquette on July 7, 2015 at 11:12 am

      Hey Vincent,

      It could be dehydration, yeah. It’s weird that it takes so long to come back, but it sounds like the drinking also affects your diet the next day. Eating less food the next day means less food hanging around in your gut, less sodium / water retention, perhaps less muscle glycogen, etc.

      You may also be spending a lot more calories when drinking too. When I drink a lot I often dance a lot, walk a lot, stay out late, etc. I burn way way more calories than when I’m not drinking.

      Another interesting thing is if you’re drinking just a couple beers, then it doesn’t much matter how they line up with your training. The beers will boost testosterone a little bit, but not enough to matter, and the alcohol in your system won’t be enough to hinder muscle protein synthesis at all. So it doesn’t really matter. However, if you’re drinking a LOT, then muscle protein synthesis will be greatly impeded. (Your body won’t be able to properly turn the protein you’re eating into muscle.) That’s not the end of the world, but it creates a really poor recovery situation for your training. Probably better to not train on the day that you drink, because your muscle recovery will be awful. Train the day after instead. Even though you might be tired/hungover and it might not be your best lifting session ever, at least you’ll be able to properly send your muscles the nutrients they need.

      I hope that helps, and I hope you have an amazing time at university!

  37. Robinia on September 4, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    You mentioned this applies to men, what about women??

    • Shane Duquette on September 5, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      Much of this is true for women too, although with about half the quantity of alcohol it seems. Actually, I think writing a post like this specifically for women on our sister site, Bony to Bombshell, is a great idea 🙂

  38. Adil on December 27, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Dear bony-to-beastly Shane,

    Im a 26yr old medical doctor from the subcontinent.
    I congratulate you all on gaining such an amount of muscle in a short period of time and giving your fellow ectomorphs (including me) hope (and the motivation for starting a healthy hobby).

    It’s an impressive achievement that is worthy of appreciation.

    I gained more than 2 kgs in a month (while properly maintaining neutral spine and neck ) by following a homemade gym routine (consisting of the basic 5 movements) after reading just your articles!
    I’ve improved my health, mood and posture and feel better now.
    I’m thinking about buying your program soon (I just wish it were CANADIAN dollars).
    The great thing about you, Jared and Marco are that you are hard working and dedicated. You provide evidence (in the form of trials and studies) and are polite and friendly (your articles are reader friendly and with your witty puns and examples added in, fun to read too).

    But
    In this article you are definitely defending alcohol (ethanol).
    Now come on, Shane… Alcohol is a risky thing to drink.

    PRACTICALLY few people can drink it in the ideal amount you have mentioned for optimal muscle hypertrophy and health.
    No doubt, it does have benefits but it’s harmful effects (on physical and mental health) definitely EXCEED them.
    In my country generally people teetotal (abstinence from alcohol is a religious obligation here).
    But unfortunately there is a lot of crime and disease due to poverty etc already and I am scared even to imagine if people had been freely drinking here too.
    Add road traffic accidents due to drunk driving and Alcoholic Liver Disease to the list and… that’ll make the routine very hectic for us doctors at least!

    I think we can learn to live and enjoy WHILE ABSTAINING from drinking alcohol. It’s just that we don’t see alternatives or are just too reluctant/addicted to think of a world without beer, whisky, sake, rum, gin, vodka, tequila, champagne etc at our parties that we defend a curse such as that. What do you think?

    If someone starts drinking alcohol thinking it’s healthy after reading this article and later becomes an addict (most of us do overdo, it’s human nature)… Well… at least my auntie won’t be proud of you for that.

    !

    • Shane Duquette on December 28, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      Hey Adil, thanks for the kind words, man! I really appreciate it.

      First of all, we agree about a lot.

      There are people who drive drunk, and I think we can all agree that that is wrong.
      There are people who binge drink, and I think we can all agree that this is not a health-based decision.
      There are people who are susceptible to alcoholism, and those people may need to avoid drinking entirely.
      There are people who would need to go against their moral/religious beliefs to drink, and that is wrong.

      This doesn’t mean that alcohol is bad for most people though.

      Here in Canada alcohol is legally obtained from ethical sources, there’s no religious restriction on it, most people can drink it in moderation with no issues, and there’s no negative health impact from doing so. For these reasons I don’t see any reason to recommend that most people stay away from it.

      When it comes to scary examples and anecdotes, I agree that they exist. Perhaps I should share a more positive one. I was raised in a family where my mum would come home from work after a long day at work and have a glass of wine before dinner. Over the years she has risen to the top of her profession, she’s been a fantastic and loving mother, and at nearly 60 years old she’s in absolutely perfect health. Her daily drinking doesn’t speak of indulgence, a lack of self control, or any kind of tradeoff—it’s just a nice pleasant, healthy way for her to relax. Her mother is 87, is also a wonderful and impressive person who drinks daily, and she is also in perfect health.

      So I’ve seen first hand that drinking can fit well into a productive life. But am I reluctant to think about a world without alcohol? Not at all! Right now I’m on allergy meds (antihistamines) so alcohol makes me sleepy instead of merry. I don’t really drink right now and I don’t miss it at all!

      I’m sure I could learn to live without coffee as well, but oh man that would be much harder… 😉

      Thanks again for the wonderful comment, and there is indeed a lot of wisdom in what you’ve said. There are many people out there who should not be drinking for a myriad of reasons.

  39. Adil on December 28, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Shane, not many are lucky enough to be born to great mums (and in addition, great sisters that help their brothers do heavy weightlifting in the basement, I wish I had one like her 🙂 ).

    Look, MOST people don’t have self control.
    Smoking helps people defecate in the toilet, keep warm and release anxiety. Some chronic chain smokers have been known to live more than a hundred years. Tobacco smoking and lung cancer are NOT 100% related.
    But a nicotine addict/chronic smoker wants exactly such excuses and loopholes to continue smoking (making his nonsmoker friends passively smoke too) and ignore the ton of the harmful effects smoking causes (bad breath and bad gums are bad enough ;). People who start smoking for the first time many a time start for gaining it’s benefits.

    Get well soon, Shane. And if you don’t mind my asking, which allergies are you having?

    • Shane Duquette on December 30, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      For people who are prone to abuse alcohol we’re in total agreement. Plus, alcohol also lowers inhibitions, so if someone lacks self control and loves to drink in excess… having just one or two beers may not be realistic. So I agree with you in that case 100%.

      However, for many though, alcohol isn’t so irresistible that it even takes much willpower to keep it under control. Many people are able to do a fine job of it. That’s who this article is for.

      I don’t think the smoking comparison is a great one. Unlike with smokers, the average person who has a drink or two per day will love longer than someone who avoids drinking entirely.

      Ahaha I’ve always had a lot of allergies. Dust, cats, dogs, some trees, etc.

  40. Adil on January 1, 2016 at 5:42 am

    The QUALITY of life matters more (not the life expectancy). Does alcohol improve people’s quality of lives IN GENERAL ?
    This argument can go on further but I’ll prefer to leave it for now.

    And oh that’s unfortunate. (like I have lactose intolerance and IBS!)
    Get well soon.

  41. Work Hard, Play Hard: Why Partying is Healthy - Virtuagym Blog on March 18, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    […] it does not hurt to pump yourself up a little before you go out. Here are some facts about the connection between drinking and muscle growth. And here are some hints for our female and our male readers for the right Friday night […]

  42. nick on March 31, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Hey Shane,
    First off, I’m glad to see you respond to all of your comments. It’s a great thing for people to fully understand your articles.

    Anyway, what are your thoughts on, say, dinking “a lot” (7-shots) the day after a workout? Won’t that inhibit muscle recovery?

    I usually drink 7 or 8 shots on Fridays or Saturdays, once a week. I know you said 7-14 is the ideal amount a week on the inverted u curve, but is it different if these drinks are taken all at once on one day rather than spread out over the week? I would guess spreading it out is better but what do you think the effect is (of having it all at once?)
    Thanks

    • Shane Duquette on April 1, 2016 at 11:57 am

      Drinking 7 shots after working out will definitely inhibit recovery and tank your testosterone for a little while. Much more than two drinks and the effects start to be negative. But I don’t think many people are binge drinking for the gainz 😉

      Spreading it out is better, yeah. It can even be healthy that way. Is binge drinking a couple nights a week going to make it hard to build muscle? Maybe not. Depends how you handle the alcohol, whether you make good food choices while you drink, whether you get hungover, how well you train when hungover (if you do get hungover), etc. Still, not the greatest for your health or muscle… but it’s not an uncommon thing for young guys to do and you might be able to make it work!

  43. Jet on April 27, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    I understand that protein synthesis is affected after drinking and muscles may not recover (increase) during the alcohol elimination process. But if I workout and then drink heavily that night, what happens the next day after the alcohol is gone? Will the body then continue to build muscle regularly from that workout (since the recovery process takes a few days) or is it ultimately stopped?

    • Shane Duquette on April 28, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      That’s a complicated question to answer and I have to admit that I don’t know. My guess would be that your growth would be stunted while binge drinking, then pick up again the next day. Would you come out ahead by the end of it? I don’t know. Might depend on wide variety of things—the severity of the drinking, how well you handle it as an individual, what you eat, how experienced of a lifter you are, etc.

  44. dgm on May 12, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Advocating ( “why you SHOULD drink” ) alcohol consumption on a site such as this is absolutely CRAZY and utterly irresponsible.
    Many turn to exercise and healthy eating as a means of resisting this insidious drug, to encourage its use on a site that ought to be dedicated to transforming people’s HEALTH as well as their ( far less important I might add ) concerns re physical aesthetics is BARKING MAD.

    My advice to anyone of ANY age- if alcohol is a feature of your life and you’ve deluded yourself into believing that it is both necessary and beneficial, imagine yourself in 10 years time with a drink problem, anxiety, beer gut & long gone ‘gains’, no interest whatever in exercise, etc. “It won’t happen to me” you say? Sorry but as long as you take alcohol you are not in a position to make that prediction. It is an insidious drug that will do precisely NOTHING for your physical & emotional well being, so do yourself a favour & ditch it.

    • Shane Duquette on May 14, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      Hey DGM, not everyone handles alcohol well, but alcohol is something we’ve been drinking for thousands of years, and many people handle it very well. There are several ways in which it can be healthy when consumed in moderation (a drink or two per day), and demonizing it doesn’t make much sense.

      Is it a good choice for people with a family history of alcohol abuse or for people with addictive tendencies? No. But that’s not everyone. That’s like saying food is bad because some people die of obesity. It’s really the dose and the overall attitude towards alcohol that determines whether it’s a positive or negative aspect of someone’s life.

      Also keep in mind that “beer gut” is just an expression. Beer guts don’t actually have anything to do with beer, but rather a chronic surplus of calories.

  45. Danielle on May 26, 2016 at 12:51 am

    LOVED this article!! This wino is not feeling one bit guilty or worried about stalling my goals and progress now!!

    • Shane Duquette on May 26, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      Ahahah good! 😀

    • Danielle on July 7, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Quick question Shane! I just finished bulking and have began cutting, I had 1-2 glasses of wine maybe 3 nights a week during my bulk without manipulating my diet! Wondering if I can do the same while cutting and not manipulate my fat/carb intake seeing that I’m still wanting to be beastly and lean?? I’m new to all of this and absolutely loved your article, saved me and my social life! Cheers!

      • Shane Duquette on July 8, 2016 at 9:11 am

        That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. I think the optimal amount for women is more like 1 glass than 1–2 glasses, but that’s not a huge difference and everyone is a little different anyway. Sounds like a pretty reasonable, healthy lifestyle. Definitely won’t hinder your fat loss, just remember to drop overall calorie intake lower if you aren’t losing weight each week 🙂

        • Danielle on July 8, 2016 at 1:41 pm

          Awesome!! Thank you so much for the feedback!!

  46. arash on June 29, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Is this article true for the alcohol that we eran from fermentation of date or mistletoe?

    • Shane Duquette on June 30, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      I’m not sure I fully understand your question, but I’m leaning towards a yes? This holds true for alcohol of any kind.

  47. Supps on December 27, 2016 at 6:49 am

    I used to drink on a daily basis. I quit completely about a month ago, and I’ve already lost a noticeable amount of fat and my muscles consistently look fuller and I’ve gained strength. Drinking is simply not compatible with muscle growth.

    • Shane Duquette on December 28, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Perhaps not in the way that you do it.

  48. Voja on February 24, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Very interesting article and awesome site overall! A question – have you seen this study (from 2014): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24533082 and what’s your opinion on it?

    • Shane Duquette on February 28, 2017 at 6:59 pm

      Yep, that makes sense. That study has guys drinking twelve drinks after working out. In this article we’re saying you can have a beer or two after training without needing to stress about it. If you get totally smashed, yes, your gains will be impaired 😛

  49. […] weight loss. Fortunately, the alcohol hasn’t destroyed our gains, we just need to rehydrate! (More on alcohol and muscle here.) Anyway, bodybuilders call this looking […]

    • Shane Duquette on November 10, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      Ah, that study came out long after the article. There’s a lot of conflicting evidence on alcohol, and a number of things that seem both good and bad about it, and then the issue of all of the studies just being able to show correlation, not causation.

      I think this is an interesting enough topic to update the article with all of the new evidence. We may just focus more on the muscle and body composition side of things, though—stick more to our true area of expertise.

    • Shane Duquette on November 10, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      Thank you for linking that study, by the way! We love it when people post conflicting research. It allows us to present a more complete view of the situation 🙂

    • Sam on June 5, 2018 at 3:02 am

      Until these people become smart enough to post things in a way the average Joe can understand, I will take their results with a grain of salt. Are you sure they didn’t have lawyers write this up?

      What I have been able to discern from this:
      1) 550 people studied, which is a tiny amount compared to the total population of the earth.
      2) They asked the people to tell them how much they drank, if they used drugs, etc. “none were “alcohol dependent” according to the CAGE screening questionnaire”(people tend to be liars about things that can make them look bad, so if that was the extent of their testing, it is suspect from the beginning)
      3) 20% of males admitted to drinking more than one drink a day on average (How many lied about it?).

      Things I couldn’t find:
      1) Did these people drink on average one drink a day, or did they all drink all those drinks in one night out partying?
      2) Were all these people in the same geographic area? There could be other issues in the area that could skew the test results, such a diet, etc.
      3) “This study was over 30 years with the mean age of 45.” Was that 45 when the study started, or ended? I’m guessing they didn’t start with 15 year old kids.
      4) “cognitive performance measured repeatedly over 30 years” Was that every week, every month, every year? 30 years is a long time and most people have some metal loss over that amount of time. It’s hard to factor this in because it can vary widely from person to person.
      5) How much of an affect did this have on the daily lives of the people studied? Was it enough to actually affect their daily lives, or was it only something that could be measured with specific tests, but had no affect on their daily lives.
      6) Who funded this study? This can have a huge affect on the results of studies due to bias (intentional or not).

      There are numerous studies done in the fitness industry that are completely bogus because the studies only involved test that would show their product in a good light and discarded any tests that would show negative results. In fact, most doctors give really bad advice when it comes to fitness because they don’t exercise themselves. Just today I saw a video where a guy was told by his doctor he should lose weight because he was over the weight recommended for his height. If the doctor had working eyes, he should have noticed that the guy was in great shape with a low amount of body fat. To add to this, most doctors talk about good and bad cholesterol, which is a flat out lie. There is no such thing as good or bad cholesterol, there is only cholesterol and it is extremely important for your body (you would die without it).

      There have been numerous studies done over the years that have been tainted by the bias of the researcher(s) or flawed study methods and this study seems to go against several other studies. There are also several comments by other doctors/scientist that call this study and it’s methods into question (although half of them are written in the same lawyer speak, so they are hard to understand).

      I have seen a couple articles/videos recently (no I don’t have links, sorry.) talking about the state of scientific papers where a large number of them are written by “scientists” more interested in getting papers published than in making sure their papers are correct. There also seems to be a problem with the places publishing these papers doing enough (any?) checking to make sure the papers are correct.

      Finally, money is involved in these studies and when money is involved greed is always a factor.

      In case you cant tell, the more I learn about modern “science” and studies, the less likely I am to trust them without a lot of additional corroboration from other studies.

  50. Sam on June 5, 2018 at 1:46 am

    When I first heard that alcohol kills your gains, I was drinking about one beer at the end of the day (workout day or not) to help relax a few hours before bed time (and to help kill the effects of GAT Nitraflex pre-workout. That stuff will keep you awake all night!). When I heard about this I stopped buying beer for a little over a month. You know what happened? Nothing! I didn’t get stronger, I definitely didn’t sleep better and I was much more stressed out at the end of the day. So I started doing more research about this problem and I can’t really find any hard evidence of this being a real problem. Everything I find is someone telling everyone what they heard without citing any sources or real evidence. This is the only article I’ve come across so far and it seems to back up my personal experience, so thanks for that!

    • Shane Duquette on July 10, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      I feel ya, Sam. I love having a beer or two after finishing my work for the day. Helps me shift gears and switch into a more relaxed mood, and it’s a nice moment to chat with my wife about our day. It doesn’t seem to have any impact on physique whatsoever, so I don’t find the results of these studies surprising. Lines up with my personal experience as well 🙂

  51. Mike on June 5, 2018 at 9:33 am

    @Sam
    To clear some of your questions you could read the study which is freely available here: https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/357/bmj.j2353.full.pdf

    You could also read:
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hup.1022
    http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/35/1/16.short

    I would certainly not tell you that you can’t drink one or two beers a day. However I would (based on the studies I provided) not suggest to anyone to start drinking for health reasons, and neither would any healthcare professional.

  52. […] Duquette, S. (2012, April 18). Bony to Beastly – Why You Should Drink: The Truth About Alcohol vs … […]

  53. […] Enjoy a drink now and then. It won’t do you any harm, and it may even help. […]

  54. […] Enjoy a drink now and then. It won’t do you any harm, and it may even help. […]

  55. […] A mojito or three will neither create nor prevent muscle protein synthesis, but it will temporarily increase your testosterone levels by about 17% if you’re a young guy (study). Seven mojitos, on the other hand, will reduce muscle protein synthesis and suppress testosterone production (study, study). That doesn’t matter if it’s fairly irregular, but an alcoholic will really struggle to maintain a muscular physique, let alone build one. Anyway, as as long as you aren’t a frequent binge drinker, there’s no reason to stress about dri…. […]

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