Does Alcohol Affect Muscle Growth?


Written by: ASN



Time to read 4 min

Let's dive straight into it!

When it comes to alcohol and weight training, the truth is that, yes, alcohol may significantly affect muscle growth. Let's take a deeper look…

Alcohol and weight training

If you love to have a drink or two at the end of the day or like to spend your weekends out partying, you'll probably find if you're working towards specific body goals like weight loss or muscle gain, your progress might feel pretty slow. Why? Studies confirm that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the rate of muscle protein synthesis following strenuous exercise. (Parr, E et al. 2014) So if you're thinking about hitting the pub for a juicy steak and a few drinks post-workout, know that the rate of muscle protein synthesis may be reduced by up to 37%, significantly affecting the quality of your recovery, muscle growth and adaptation, especially following a resistance or high-intensity interval training session.

Does alcohol slow muscle recovery?

Let's be totally honest… If you're serious about increasing your muscle mass, you probably want to avoid drinking alcohol after a workout. As we understand, consuming alcohol post-training inhibits muscle protein synthesis…but that's not all. Alcohol reduces the rate at which your body naturally recovers after a workout by decreasing testosterone levels and elevating cortisol levels (stress hormone) aswell. (Lakićević, N. 2019) Naturally, your body treats alcohol as a toxin. Hence, its number one priority is to rid the body of the toxins before it can focus on other metabolic processes like fat burning, repairing tissues and muscle growth.

For optimal recovery post-workout, your body needs to restore fluid levels, including electrolytes and replenish glycogen; however, if you're backing up your workout with alcohol, your body won't rehydrate and recover effectively, impacting your progress, health and body goals. Intentionally fueling your body with essential macronutrients like protein and carbohydrates and rehydrating with water post-workout is crucial for optimising your recovery, avoiding injury and contributing to your overall state of health.

Alcohol and sleep

So we know to grow muscle that strategic training, nutritional guidance and quality recovery are fundamental; however, when adding alcohol to the equation, there's a fair chance the quality of your sleep will be significantly impaired too.

As alcohol is a depressant, it may contribute to relaxation and help you fall asleep with ease; however, it can also stop you from being able to stay asleep, resulting in impaired muscle recovery and goal-supporting metabolic processes. Here's how…

Research suggests alcohol disrupts rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep), which may result in brain fogginess, poor concentration, fatigue and drowsiness. So, when it comes to achieving body goals, maximising your downtime and sleep is vital for your progress. When your REM sleep is disrupted, so is the release of growth hormones and amino acids necessary for muscle building. So while you may feel that alcohol doesn't directly impact your performance or progress, it does impact critical contributing factors. (Roehrs, T et al. 2015)

Is wine bad for bodybuilding?

Regarding alcohol and muscle gain, we know drinking it moderately can harm your results and performance, but can a glass of your favourite red or white halt your results too?

To maintain high-performance levels when training and to improve body composition, you may want to abstain entirely from consuming alcohol if you're serious about your goals. As alcohol holds no nutritional value, each drink contains empty calories. So even if your diet is on point with meeting macro and micronutrient needs, it's still outweighed by the adverse effects of alcohol as it impairs muscle protein synthesis.

The moral of the story is that, unfortunately, it doesn't matter what your alcohol of choice is; consuming it while working hard towards your body goals can seriously impact your progress and results.

Alcohol and muscle gain

If you've been drinking alcohol and weight training, or are in the habit of having a few cold ones after work each day but want to get serious about your body composition goals, kicking off your journey with a detox cleanse is an excellent place to start to get your body ready.

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An underperforming liver can result in many symptoms, from feeling lethargic, sluggish, tired and foggy, to name a few. Not only is liver health crucial for your overall well-being due to the 500+ body functions it's needed for, but it's also essential for your liver to operate optimally when working towards specific body goals like increasing muscle mass. Enter: Code Red.

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The bottom line

You can't out-train a poor diet, and quality nutrition is vital for body composition goals, so when it comes to alcohol and weight training, ask yourself if having a 'few' is worth undoing all of your hard work. Need a few tips on how to cut back on drinking? Check out our blog article Dry July: The benefits of cutting back on drinking.


Parr, E et al. 2014, ‘Alcohol ingestion impairs maximal post-exercise rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis following a single bout of concurrent training’. National Library of Medicine, accessed 7 July 2022,>

Lakićević, N. 2019, ‘The Effects of Alcohol Consumption on Recovery Following Resistance Exercise: A Systematic Review’. National Library of Medicine, accessed 7 July 2022,>

Roehrs, T et al. 2015, ‘Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use’, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, accessed 8 July 2022>