ALCOHOL AND BODYBUILDING
Being inspired to improve oneself physically is a wonderful thing. It is important to emulate people who have achieved success in the areas that peak one’s interests. A common self-improvement category is physique enhancement.
Anyone who strives to have a world class physique has undoubtedly seen documentaries about exercise and the world’s greatest Bodybuilders. These individuals are quick to tell the world how they achieved success in such a specialized category. Many solid pieces of advice have been proclaimed by physique professionals. These are unfortunately promoted alongside unfortunate bits of bad advice.
The following is an excerpt from an infamous interview given by the Austrian Oak, Arnold Schwarzenegger, regarding nutrition. During an “art and form” exhibition this line of conversation took place.
Reporter: Mr. Schwarzenegger, how much milk do you drink each day?
Arnold: None. I don’t drink milk.
Reporter: None at all?
Arnold: No. Milk is for babies. When you grow and become a man, then you drink beer.
An entire generation of bodybuilders and physique competitors took Mr. Universe’s comments to heart, and created a dangerous trend in the athletic world. It is hard to estimate how many alcoholics had their start through the belief that alcoholic drinks were a route to body enhancement.
“GRAIN SUGARS ARE IMMEDIATELY USED BY THE BODY AS FUEL, BUT IN A FERMENTED FORM THEY CAUSE UNWANTED METABOLIC REACTIONS.”
The truth is, alcohol severely stunts the metabolic gains most athletes strive for. Yes, malted alcoholic drinks provide a readily available source of sugars that can theoretically feed muscle fibers. Grain sugars are immediately used by the body as fuel, but in a fermented form they cause unwanted metabolic reactions. These include decreased tendon and ligament integrity, and fat gain.
During the Golden Age of Bodybuilding, superstars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Platz, Sergio Oliva, and Lou Ferrigno had a dietary regimen which included alcohol. Their gains in the gym were phenomenal, but this had little to do with beer and hard liquor.
Sports science has proven that alcohol has a stunting effect on muscle fibers which eclipses temporary strength and aesthetic gains. Sliding muscle fibers are broken-down during intense resistance exercise, and become open to receiving stored minerals and nutrients from the body. Alcohol in the blood stream and adipose (fat) tissues is quickly drawn-in by muscles during repair and building. Muscle cells recognize alcohol in the same way as other, more beneficial nutrients, because of its sugar content. However, it provides little nutrition, and stunts the development of muscle via the muscle’s own appetite for fuel.
Along with a negative growth effect, alcohol triggers chemicals in the brain. The body reacts to alcohol in a similar way to an excellent workout, but is left without fuel and nutrition to compensate for the effort. With alcohol, muscle systems are tricked into a vulnerable state of needed fuel, but are held back by its numbing nervous and hormonal effects.
“THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION IN MODERATION.”
Arnold’s statement about “real men” choosing beer over milk was a publicity stunt. Yes, alcoholic beverages create a feeling of euphoria and release positive brain chemicals into the body, but the opposite of muscle-building is the outcome. There is nothing wrong with alcohol consumption in moderation. It is imperative that people wanting to maximize muscle strength and athletic gains, know the difference between the feeling caused by a few strong drinks, and the true satisfaction caused by a stellar workout.
Alcohol has more physique-sabotaging properties than beneficial ones. Honing a truly fine physique or athletic talent requires solid nutrition and healthy interaction between the brain and body. Alcohol, though temporarily empowering, will severely counteract lasting athletic gains.