Alcohol & Bodybuilding: Can You Drink Without Losing Gains?

Alcohol & Bodybuilding: Can You Drink Without Losing Gains?

What’s up, guys. Sean Nalewanyj here
and I figured for the start of the summer this was a relevant topic, so I wanted to
talk today about bodybuilding and alcohol. What the actual effects are and some guidelines
that you can follow so that you are able to have a night out drinking with your friends
and just enjoy yourself without having to worry about it negatively impacting your muscle
building or you fat burning progress. Regardless of the fact that you’ll hear
a lot of fitness experts out there saying that alcohol is completely out of the question
if you want to get into great shape. That it will destroy your muscle growth, kill
your performance in the gym. That’s really not the case. It’s something that I, myself, used to believe
but in looking more the actual science of it and just through personal experience, I
discovered that it’s really just not true. It’s not a question of alcohol itself being
either good or bad, and you either can or can’t drink. If you’re trying to gain muscle or lose
fat it completely depends on how much you’re drinking, how often you’re doing it and
also on how much you allow a night out of drinking to affect your diet or your training
in the overall picture. So first off, there’s two important points
that I want to cover here. The first is the simple fact that alcohol
contains calories. Okay, that’s about seven calories per gram
and if you’re not taking those calories into account as part of your diet just like
you would for any other food or drink then obviously that going to affect your results
in some way. So alcohol calories do count and the do contribute
to your total net energy balance for the day. And the second important point here is that
if you consistently allow your alcohol consumption to interfere with your training sessions or
your regular diet, then again of course that’s going to have a negative impact. So, if you go out and drink and you skip a
workout as a result or you and your buddies end up at fat burger at four in the morning
for a 1,500 calorie meal then yeah, of course it’s going to affect you in some way. So if alcohol is causing behavioral changes
in you that throw your program as a whole off track then there should be no surprise
that that’s going to slow down your progress in some way. But what happens if you take an otherwise
properly structured muscle building and fat burning plan where you’re staying within
your overall calorie targets for the day and your workout quality and workout consistency
isn’t affected. And then you just simply add some alcohol
into the mix and you tracked the calories. Like I’d mention earlier this isn’t a
black and white issue and it does depend largely on the dosage and the frequency. And there are going to be individual differences
as well depending on genetics and on how different people handle their alcohol. So the first situation will just be if you’re
a casual, moderate drinkers; so, someone who like to have maybe a glass of wine in the
evening, or go and have a few beers with your buddies every once in a while. In situations like that it’s really not
something to worry about at all. It’s not going to slow down your muscle
growth or your fat loss. And studies have actually shown pretty consistently
that moderate drinkers, which means no more that no more than two drinks per day for man
and one for a woman, moderate drinkers actually live longer than non-drinkers and small amounts
of alcohol actually protect against a pretty wide range of diseases. And I’ll link some research on that in the
description box below if you’re interested. So if you enjoy casual, moderate drinking
a glass of wine here, a few beers there, then assuming that the calories are tracked that’s
completely and totally fine and that it’s probably actually beneficial if anything. Now what about the effects of the night out
of heavy drinking with the purpose of actually getting drunk? Again, this is not a black and white issue
and I can only give general guidelines because of that but I would say that as long as you’re
doing it in moderation, so let’s say maybe twice per month as an estimate maybe slightly
more or less depending on the person and how their body processes alcohol and also on how
much they’re actually drinking on the night out, but assuming that you do it relatively
infrequently and you go about it properly, which I’ll give you some guidelines in second
here, the yeah, it is possible to go out and have those nights of heavier drinking without
any significant negative effect in terms of bottom line muscle growth or fat loss. I’m not saying it’s healthy for you. Obviously binge drinking it’s not healthy,
so that’s something you have to aware of for yourself and I’m also not saying that
it will have zero effect, but the effect from a pure muscle building or fat burning perspective
would probably be pretty minimal if anything, as long as you’re doing it relatively infrequently. And you’re just an average gym goer and
not some high level athlete trying to squeeze out every possible inch of progress. I don’t get this idea that all the in shape
body building and fitness YouTubers you watched or all the trainers at your gym live the squeaky
clean lifestyle. They never drink, they never party. It’s really not the case. Myself included. My life does not revolve around the gym and
I do enjoy going out and drinking with friends just as much as the next guy. And just because you’re trying to get in
shape it doesn’t mean that alcohol is some evil substance that you have to completely
abstain from. It’s really just about finding the roper
balance for yourself and going about it in an intelligent way, so you don’t fall off
track with your program in the bigger picture. Now, I don’t want to get into big technical
discussion about all the research. I’ll put some links in the description box
if that does interest you. But the main issues that people will usually
bring up are that alcohol lowers testosterone levels and it lowers protein synthesis. So, on the testosterone issue, there’s mix
research here. Some studies are shown no significant effect
even after six to seven drinks. And even when a really large amount of alcohol
is consumed, the effect is only still temporary. Anywhere from about a fifteen to twenty percent
decrease lasting no more than twenty four hours afterwards. Now I’ve talked about this before but temporary
up and down spikes in testosterone are not something I’m worry about too much because
that’s mostly just about what happens in the overall picture. I mean having test levels drop by, say twenty
percent, for sixteen hours, two times per month it’s really not something I would
concern myself with. And even if there was a negative effect from
that it probably would be pretty small. And in my opinion it wouldn’t make sense
to sacrifice a part of your life that you enjoy, just to eke out a few more ounces of
muscle growth anyway. And when it comes to protein synthesis, that’s
only been studied in chronic alcoholics and even then it’s mixed with results on both
sides. So anyone who definitively says that alcohol
lowers protein synthesis would be basing it on rat studies. And humans and rats do process macro nutrients
and toxins differently. It’s reasonable to assume that there probably
some of fact, but again it would probably only be small and temporary and not be a big
issue of concern, again, as long as it’s only happening infrequently. Now if you are going to go out drinking there
are a few guidelines that I’d recommend following in order to minimize the negative
effect. So first off, you’re going to want to stick
to lower calorie drinks if possible, at least for the majority of the night. So dry-wine and spirits are going to be your
best bet and then go ahead and mixed them with low calorie or zero calorie liquids. Otherwise the total calories on full night
out, they’re going to add up pretty quickly. For example if you’re drinking a bunch of
beer or sugary drinks like rum and coke, or vodka sprite, you’re going to be dumping
a lot of extra calories into your diet, which is definitely could make a difference. It’s not that you can’t have those higher
calories drinks, but just be aware of the difference. My drinks of choice are usually just vodka
water with lime or rum and coke zero because they’re clean and easy, and they minimize
the amount of total calories that I take in, without having to think too much about it. The second guideline is to try to maximize
the amount of time between alcohol consumption and weight training. So in an ideal world you would avoid training
on the same day or on the day after a heavy night of drinking, because that way your recovery
isn’t affected if you train earlier in the day. And your performance won’t be affected if
you’re training the day after. But if it’s not possible to do both then
at least do to the best you can and space them out as much as possible. Number three minimize the amount of fat that
you eat on the days where you’re planning to drink. This is because acetate, which is the actual
toxic component of alcohol, it prevents your body from burning fat when you consume it. So the fat that’s in your blood stream,
it get stored more easily when you drink, and so you can minimize that effect by lowering
your fat intake down on the days where you’re drinking. There’s no set guideline her, but maybe
cutting it to around, say half of your normal fat intake that would probably work well. The fourth guideline most people would probably
don’t need me to tell them this, but just make sure you drink plenty of water throughout
the night if you can as well as the end of the night before going to bed. And that’s because alcohol itself is very
dehydrating and it will go a long way in minimizing any potential hangovers the next day and helped
you recovered faster if you make sure to stay properly hydrated. And the last point, if you’re someone who’s
prone to eat heavily after a night of drinking then make sure to lower your calorie intake
earlier on the day so that you can save up some calories for later on. Because your judgment and your will power
is probably going to be reasonably impaired by the end of the night, and even if you didn’t
saved up any calories, if you’re hungry at that point you’re probably just going
to eat whatever you feel like and not really care. So you can medicate that by lowering you calories
earlier on in the day. So bottom line guys, just because you’re
trying to build muscle and lose fat it doesn’t mean that you can’t go out and have fun
and drink once in a while if that’s something that you enjoy doing. And it is possible to strike a balance between
that and your fitness plan. Again, if alcohol consumption effects your
overall [Inaudible] to your program in the big picture, then that’s something you have
to find out for yourself, because everybody’s different and if that is the case then abstaining
completely, or at least having a temporary period of abstain is probably going to be
a smarter option for you. But assuming that your training and your diet
is otherwise unaffected then going out and drinking on the heavier side once in a while
is pretty unlikely to had any real noticeable effects on your long term results. Health wise, it’s never going to be ideal
but in terms of actual bottom line muscle growth or fat loss, if you do it properly
then you’ll probably going to be fine. So thanks for watching, guys. I hope this was helpful for you. Feel free share the video if it was. You can hit the like button, comment and subscribe. If you want to check my complete step-by-step
Body Transformation Blue Print System that shows you how to maximize muscle building
and fat burning results. Including easy to follow workouts, meal plans,
supplement guides and one-on-one coaching then you can click here or you can visit The link for that is in the description box. The official website is and
make sure to follow me on social media here if you aren’t already. Thanks for watching, guys. And I’ll see you in the next video.

100 thoughts on “Alcohol & Bodybuilding: Can You Drink Without Losing Gains?

  1. Great video Sean. There is so much confusion and conflicting information on the web about this topic. Just got around to watching this since it's my 33rd bday and was planning on having guys over tonight. I haven't had a beer in over a year but definetly enjoy the vodka, straight. It cuts out alot of the unnecessary calories. Moderation is definetly the key.

  2. hi mate, I like your vids. they are clean cut & informative. I always come here first for info. keep up the good work ?

  3. tip: smoke weed instead of drinking on some nights and drink lots of water. Eat very few calories prior to smoking, then you should be good when you have your munchies cheat meal. also only do this once a week

  4. good stuff dude. solid fact based for sure. only thing is hate that shirt… looks like a sports bra with that screen crop you used.

  5. In my opinion the calories in alcohol are secondary to the inevitable poor diet decision making that follows. When the inhibitions are gone you are more likely to suddenly have a 2500 calorie meal and a week of work is shot.

  6. I'm 43 years old, I have been lifting since I was 19 and I go out on Friday nights have drinks. I just have always made sure I am in a caloric deficit. I still have always made gains and even still lost weight on a cut. Once a week doesn't hurt as long as you stay with your diet and lift during the week.

  7. Plane and simple Life is to enjoy your self. I love lifting steel and do enjoy a few drinks every weekend has done me no damage over the 10 years plus Been Abel to cut and clean bulk for years and still enjoy a drink with my wifeThe key is control the food in take on the days u drink and train even harder the day after m, has worked for me

  8. Guys don't get hung up on it at all – I go out almost every weekend to socialise with friends – mainly pickup girls and i drink about 5 vodkas on average just to get the buzz then i stop – Its about knowing your limits and stay with it. You don't want to be so out of it you don't know what your doing. If your young its good to let off steam and enjoy yourself man if your in college you'll be doing this anyway. Just track the macros if you really want to. Just don't put down 10 beers on a night out and not expect to gain weight and impact your training because those carbs and calories are just empty.

    Sean spells it out quite simply with sticking to vodka which is around 51kcal per serving

    Just go out enjoy yourself and don't worry you'll soon know what works for you and what doesn't.

    For instance my calories intake is on a deficit at the moment for cutting so i consume 1850 – if i know I'm heading out for a night at the weekend i'll save 400-500kcal for drinking and thats a wild range because i don't hit above 350 any time. Just don't get hung up on it is all I'm saying. I'm in my early 30s and i still rip it up and party like i did when i was 21 😀

  9. Beer is good. Working out is good. If you like drinking beer more than working out, it will show, and vice versa. Most of us are something in between. Also, if you're asking yourself if drinking is getting in the way of gains, you're already doing better than 99% of people out there. Think about it: You are drinking and working out. Those two facts alone say that you are doing pretty well for yourself. Got enough money to drink and have a gym membership (or even personal gym); you're most likely not doing serious drugs (too often at least); you have freedom to do these things; you're not "obsessing" over drinking or working out; you most likely have a great social life; you are not an extremist; the list goes on. Give yourself some credit. Enjoy that next drink, then get back to the gym tomorrow!

  10. I add vodka to my protein shakes as well as whey protein to my drinks. A buzz while working out helps you feel stronger than you really are, which can only help.

  11. Yeah so my friend drinks 6-10 beers a night and it's not out of the ordinary for him to eat a whole pizza and a cheese bread while he's drunk. Then he goes to the gym and wonders why he feels like shit and can't lose weight. In his case, the alcohol is making a massive difference. His testosterone is almost constantly at 75% what it should be and the thousands of calories he eats while he's drunk is getting stored immediately instead of burned.

  12. is having lets say…a couple bud light beers okay? i dont drink that often anymore so thought id ask that

  13. i dont think these studies take everything into consideration when making these recommendations… like a persons bodyweight…how much they can handle…i mean ive seen mixed "studies"on which is appropriate in terms of moderation…some say 2 for men 1 for women…others say 3-4 for men and 2-3 for women…soooo… can we even believe one set of rules or recommendations??

  14. I'd drink a bottle of vodka while doing a marathon. Couldnt do close to a marathon sober. Totally wrecks me for the rest of the week

  15. Definitely true. I love to drink but also have natural physique goals, I drink fairly regularly – once a week, sometimes more sometimes less and I like to drink where I get a decent buzz or totally shitfaced. I can drink beers like this and still get leaner, if im doing the cardio I like 4-6 times a week, eat less on the days I want to drink and follow a great diet and exercise regime the rest of the time. Also allowing the occasional drunken McDonalds feast or hungover day of not eating clean. I do not have "freak genetics" or am a "mesomorph" I can pack on the pounds quickly if I let my diet and exercise regime slip for extended periods of time

  16. I kind of dissagree with liquor over beer. simply because beer is watery ya know? More calories but not as strong either, so less alcohol.

  17. 2 bottles of vodka with 5 beers, is that to much or is it ok if you´re into sports? I was drinking that with russian friends. I´m into martial arts and riding the bike.

  18. I reserve calories for drinks on weekends but always stay slightly under maintenance. I just make sure to keep it low fat that day and enough protein.

  19. Just drink expensive Whisky.  You won't want to drink it too often and you definitely won't waste it by pouring it into a mixed drink.  It has a psychological effect on me, by not wanting to waste the money well spent. Plus the drinking experience not only tastes better, but you feel classy.

  20. Before a workout I drink vodka mixed with water. I find that I feel stronger, pushed harder and more reps. In less than 3 month's I was really surprised at the muscle growth and fat loss. People ask if I took growth hormones. No pill's or drugs, just vegetable protein after a workout. Body weight dropped from 190lbs to 162lbs. I'd look in the mirror and found it hard to believe that's me!!!! I'm living proof. On the down side, it must be hard on the liver. Be careful!!!!!!

  21. Working out in my opinion is one of the greatest things in life. Feel confident, head up and view the world positive. Drinking while working out , short term and going to night clubs instead of staying home is great. Dancing with hot looking women that you would not dance with if you were not in good shape!!!! Hey drinking and working out is great. Know your limits and respect them or you may end up in bed with two strangers.

  22. After a rare hard drinking (close to blackout) night, I always make a whey protein shake with my last bits of energy, and I repeat it in the morning. It really helps with the hangover and regeneration. And sometimes if it's a "diver protein shake" (goes down, looks around and comes back) it still tastes much better than the pure mix of wine-vodka-tequila in you stomach.

  23. So I'm on a six week meal plan with no alcohol allowed and I love it! I'm getting great results that being said six weeks from now I would like to learn how to maintain these results and still be able to get day drunk lmao that being said do you do any meal plans or break down macros for maintenance?

  24. Very knowledgeable video, can I train before going out for drinks on the same day? Some advise would be great thanks!

  25. Any damage to the liver lower's testosterone quickly if you're all about competing then get women drunk and fk them senseless without a hangover in the morning and beer has estrogen in it btw.

  26. One of the sugars alcohol breaks down into is a type of sugar which deposits INSIDE the visceral cavity. Don't do it.

  27. The last year i added a couple of drinks (vodka) in my life at the end of the day before i go to sleep.I workout for about 8 years.What i have noticed is that it hinders a bit the recovery process of my muscles.I have also noticed a bit more belly fat.I havent changed anyhting in my diet and the workout plan is about the same.But thats just me.In the end what i really believe that matters in bodybuilding is the age and genetics.

  28. Alcohol isn't the evil. It's the balance . If you drink like I did in the past , it's a bad idea. Why? Horrible hang over kills gym progress.

  29. What if I trained yesterday and then hours later I had a few drinks? Will it effect my gains? I haven't had a drink in 3 months

  30. I do not drink alcohol frecuently
    But when I do it , I get drunk.
    I was kind of worried because I will have a heavy drinking night tomorrow. But listening to this has just made feel better about it ?

  31. I drink about 2 drinks of tequila and pineapple juice a day.. Lift every other day.. No negative effects i can see and im 49. Its just calories.. No big deal…its a nice way to end the day.. Just sit back chill and knock a few down. Live your life.

  32. I'm living proof of what's possible. I drink wayyyyy too often. Basically everyday, but work out 5 times a week. I come home from the gym and take down a 6 pack, and even more on the weekends by double. I'm in better shape than 90 percent of the population. 6 foot 2, 215 lbs sitting around 15% bodyfat. I should add that I dont eat like crap

  33. This video is like my prayer before I go out to have a beer. Probably this would be 10th time I am watching this. It motivates me every week before I have a beer. 😀

  34. "My life does not revolve around the gym" stopped watching smh

    jokes aside great video, really answered all my questions thanks

  35. Great video, as usual. The reason I watched this is that I’ve been reading that alcohol can reduce MPS. I’d like to have a beer later in the day, on a training day and was wondering if a negative effect would occur. I’m not 20 or 40-something and so every edge I can get I’d take but love a good (full flavor, not rice or wheat) beer once in awhile…

  36. Alcohol is poison…speaking for myself…oh yeah it will stop muscle building in it's tracks…leave it alone…my friends admire me at parties…only one built well and not drinking..

  37. Alcohol=death


    I'll never forget this rest of my life??

    My age is 33 unfortunately in my late teens and in my early 20's i was consuming alcohol which i got into through my worthless friends they made me believe that alcohol enhances physical as well as mental strength,makes men more tougher into an alpha male but when i realized at much later point in my life that alcohol is a empty calorie slow death causing toxin which damages bones,muscles,Liver,increases risk of recurring cancer,shrinks brain,affects testosterone causing testicles to shrink,increases the risk of diabetes by a whopping 50% realizing these undeniable facts I just laughed at my stupidity and vowed not to touch it ever again in my life unless if i wanted to die early with unfulfilled dreams being still virgin and restored to healthy protein rich diet that most bodybuilders n muscle men consume because of which my immunity boosted,i was not falling ill,i was gaining decent muscle etc so I'd recommend that it is best giving up alcohol completely or if not once in a month a little well diluted with water it will certainly make your life incredibly good just mark my words it's my personal experience!!!it's your life so decide whether you'd want to die early affected by desease weak or live long strong and die satisfied

  38. Not to speak in black and white but while there are studies pointing to a positive effect of moderate alcohol consumtion on the heart, newer research shows that any amount of alcohol increases the risk of cancer. Not as much as cigarettes, but if you are at risk anyway because of other factors, avoiding alcohol as much as possible is actually the best choice

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