Alcohol: Body DEcomposition Fuel

What Alcohol Does to Body Composition

Our clients typically lose their most recent 1-3 MONTHS worth of training and diet progress with just 1-4 serves of alcohol! And we’ve seen entire YEARS worth of muscle gain lost in a few consecutive ‘big weekends’. We always know when our clients have had a drink because there is NOTHING else they could have done to lose so much muscle AND gain so much fat in a short period. And its the muscle loss thats the giveaway. Cheating on a diet might make you gain fat; but you won’t lose muscle. Missing training slows muscle gains; but rarely results in muscle loss. Even a month off training doesn’t usually result in terribly significant muscle loss in our clients who maintain a reasonable food intake. One alcoholic drink does! The only clients who do not go backwards from alcohol are the ones who drink regularly. But then, they never make significant positive body composition progress to lose. They just stay somewhat fat and barely gain strength or muscle from training.

Why Nobody Tells You How Bad Alcohol Is

Most coaches, trainers and doctors have no idea how bad alcohol is because no research has been done on the effect of acute alcohol consumption on body composition in athletes. And few trainers or doctors measure actual lean-mass and fat-mass every 7-14 days like we do at Biologic Labs; let alone prescribe strictly measured diets! 1-3kg of muscle replaced by 1-3kg of fat doesn’t show up on the scales. You WEIGH the same; but your composition is significantly different. It doesn’t look particularly significant in the mirror either. But it takes a hell of a lot of hard training and dieting to create 1-3kg of muscle… and not a lot of booze to lose!

Alcohol is a Drug, Stupid!

The fact that alcohol is a DRUG is the fact that seems to escape most experts. Every discussion centres around the caloric value of the alcohol rather than the shift in metabolic priorities. Thyroid medications don’t cause weight loss because the pills are low in calories. And anabolic-steroids do not cause muscle gain because the injections are high in calories and protein. All of these drugs – including alcohol – cause profound changes in systemic metabolism. Which is why alcohol has been described as the “anabolic steroid of fat”. It drugs you fat!

Alcohol Health Benefits?

But what about the supposed positive, healthy effects of alcohol? Rather than get into the debate, lets just be honest: nobody drinks alcohol because they’re after a health benefit! If you want healthy anti-oxidants, eat some broccoli! Unlike Alcohol, Broccoli doesn’t cost Australia $15 BILLION per year in health damages and 51% of broccoli consumption isn’t at levels that risk short-term harm! You want Resveratrol? Get some grapeseed extract!


So lets be clear: in a week of eating as badly as you possibly could, you won’t be able to deposit the fat you can gain in just one night with alcohol! And in a week of high dose cortisone (catabolic steroid), you couldn’t lose the muscle you can in just one night with alcohol. Drinking regularly will eliminate the acute, negative effects of alcohol. But it will ensure that you are the fattest, weakest, most muscle-less version of yourself you could be. All your exercise and diet will just be fighting a losing battle against the fat-steroids you insist on drinking! Scream what you want about ‘lifestyle’ and being ‘social’; justify your alcoholism to yourself anyway you want! But drinking alcohol is still drugging yourself FAT! Its YOUR choice!

Written by

Damon Hayhow is the founder of Biologic Labs. He is also the President of Recomp, Director of Body Recompositioning Solutions, Australian Ambassador to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, World Record holding Powerlifter, former President of the World Powerlifting Congress in Australia, IFBB Mr Australia and Australian Powerlifting Champion. Damon is Australia's first CISSN qualified Sports Nutritionist and an ASCA Certified Strength Coach.

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