HomedietAlcohol Inhibits The Beneficial Effects of Exercise

Alcohol Inhibits The Beneficial Effects of Exercise

Drinking alcohol after exercise can severely reduce testosterone

Alcohol & Exercise- Understanding The Negative Effects on  Testosterone & Growth Hormone Production


If there is one area of little research but huge misconceptions in the fitness field it is that of the negative effects of alcohol and exercise. Alcohol consumption is quite common in our society today, and very tangible social pressures exist for individuals to drink. So much so that many avid gym goers indulge in a drink of two after their workouts from time to time with little thought given to any potential negative effects. Most are aware that alcoholic beverages are high in calories but ignore any possible ill effects given their activity level. The idea is that a good workout counteracts any possible negative outcomes from the consumption of alcoholic beverages and that there are actually some tangible health benefits to the occasional glass. Such thinking however, fails to take into consideration the very less than favorable hormonal consequences. Changes that include sharp and extended reductions in free testosterone levels that are actually made worse by training before drinking and reductions in growth hormone production as well. In this article we will take a hard look at how testosterone is affected by the combination of alcohol and exercise and the suppressive effects of alcohol on growth hormone- findings that may not be popular but ones that will help you make better and more informed decisions as to whether or not to drink.

Alcohol: Health Claims Vs Reality

The French Paradox isn't true alcohol inhibits the benefits of exercise
Contrary to incomplete studies promoted by the wine industry, a higher seafood intake & lack of processed foods & trans fats in the French diet is the reason they have a lower incidence of heart disease when compared to Americans. Drinking wine is hardly the reason.
 Before I go any further I would like to preface this article by saying that for thousands of years alcohol has played an integral part in the social development of civilization as a whole. From religious ceremonies to special occasions and feasts, alcohol has been present in just about every human culture on the planet and it would be a mistake to vilify it completely. Consumed infrequently in moderate quantities there can indeed be a place for it- but it is important to understand the tradeoffs as opposed to blindly believing that it might not put a monkey wrench in your goal of getting into the absolute best shape possible or performing a your highest level. (See my article How Long Does It Take To Get Muscle Definition) Most of us are aware of the basic problems that alcohol presents from a fitness perspective, but clever marketing and somewhat questionable studies about its health benefits obscure the facts about what the general public should know in order to make better choices about their alcohol use. There has been an inordinate amount of media attention to the possible health benefits of red wine after a chemical found in the skin of grapes (called resveratrol) was found to be associated with a reduced incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Possible health benefits that the wine and alcohol industries have used as a marketing public relations bonanza- as who hasn’t heard of the possible health benefits of drinking wine?


What isn’t as publicly trumpeted is the fact that these studies benefits apply only to animals in a laboratory environment and that no such findings have yet been confirmed in human beings.[1] The relatively lower incidence of heart disease among the French when compared to their American counterparts in spite of their higher alcohol consumption (the so called French Paradox] has been also constantly broadcasted throughout every form of media possible as proof positive of the health benefits of regular wine consumption. [2] However, like the resveratrol studies, these findings are somewhat misleading, as equal time is never given to further research that contradicts these health claims. For example, few are aware that the French Paradox is based on an assumption that wine is the cause of their lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. It’s a big assumption to be honest and one that ignores the fact that the French also on average consume more far seafood that we do over here in the United States with three servings of fish a week. [3,4,5] Long chain omega-3 fatty acids present in fish and seafood have been strongly associated with reduced incidence of heart disease and current studies attribute this along with the fact that compared to the average American the French:

  • Eat smaller portions
  • Consume more fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Don’t snack between meals
  • Have a diet relatively free of trans fats
  • Don’t eat as much processed foods

And have a slower and calmer pace of life as the reason their comparative incidences of  heart disease is lower than here in the United States.[3,4] Not as sexy a message as a drink a day will keep the doctor away, but one that has served to increase sales and consumption of wine from 568 million gallons in 2000 to 784 million gallons in 2010.[6,7] And I have a bit of an authority on the subject matter as my wife is French, and as someone who majored in French Literature and has been over there numerous times, I can personally attest these statements to be true. Along with the fact that French men and women today don’t look any different than Americans at this point as they are beginning to suffer the same increases in obesity as everywhere else ins the world. Marketing hype talking about the French Paradox is just that- a way of increasing wine sales and should not be construed in any way as being real. And if you don’t believe me, take a hop across the pond and see for yourself! (Read my article on The Economics Of Obesity for more information on how the commercial industries manipulate studies to increase sales)

Alcohol & Calories- A Tip Of The Iceberg

The typical beer belly from too much alcohol
Unless there is some degree of liver dysfunction, in most cases the typical ‘beer belly’ is a result of too many calories from alcohol, the inhibiting hormonal effects of alcohol and the fat reducing effects of alcohol as well.

Alcohol contains a total of 6.93 calories per gram but unlike just about every other food or drink that we consume, it isn’t digested, but is instead absorbed completely intact and processed directly by you liver. What happens next isn’t exactly the same for everybody as enzymes in your liver converts it to acetaldehyde. Sounds ominous? Well it should since acetaldehyde is a toxic chemical responsible for most of the liver and heart damage we see in those who drink heavily on a regular basis.[8] Not a pretty substance at all, but how much of it remains in your body after drinking depends on how much you drink and some predetermined genetic factors. A healthy liver can usually tolerate small amount of alcohol and can convert the acetaldehyde to acetate- which our bodies can use as an energy substrate and or is harmlessly excreted as water and carbon dioxide.[8] If, however you drink to the point where those incoming calories are in excess of what your body needs for the day, it will be stored as body fat.[9] Drink too much alcohol at one time though and the liver is unable to do its job of metabolizing it from toxic acetaldehyde to relatively harmless acetate- causing an accumulation of this dangerous toxin and a possible deposition of fat in the liver itself.[9] Both very precarious situations from a health perspective. The problem is that everyone reacts differently in terms of how they metabolize alcohol- which is one reason why people who drink heavily aren’t always necessarily obese, and why in some cases they can have even lower body weights than nondrinkers.[10]



Alcohol atter exercise lowers testosterone levels
Studies show that exercise significantly prolongs the testosterone depressant effects of alcohol- so drinking after training is always a bad idea if you want to get the most out of your workouts.


Effects Of Alcohol & Exercise On Lowering Testosterone Levels


 It doesn’t make the news or help sell bottles but one of the seldom spoken attributes of alcohol is its role in depressing the body’s natural secretion of testosterone. With most of it being secreted in the testes (in males- ovaries in females), testosterone is the hormone predominantly responsible for increasing strength, muscle mass and decreasing overall body fat among other many other things. Reduced serum testosterone levels may have detrimental effects such as infertility, increased risk of osteoporosis, anemia, and immune dysfunction.[11] and numerous studies confirm that alcohol is by nature a direct testicular toxin in both humans and animals.[12,13,14] Consumption of alcohol leads to a marked and prolonged reduction in testosterone that can last for several hours depending on the amount consumed. [11,15] A study of 13 moderate to infrequent male alcohol users reported a drop in serum testosterone of 19-22% that lasted for as long as 10 hours after slowly (over a 3 hour period) drinking 1.5 grams of alcohol per kilogram of body weight.[11] As alarming as this drop in testosterone may seem, what was more shocking was that when the same amount of alcohol was consumed after a bout of strenuous exercise, the drop in testosterone lasted for as long as 22 hours after consumption.[11] In fact, the experiment showed that in every scenario- whether it was exercising after drinking, exercising with a hangover or exercising while intoxicated, exercise demonstrated a significant effect in prolonging the depressant effect on testosterone when compared to non-exercising controls.[11] Thus it is important to note that alcohol consumption after exercise could interfere with recovery after exercise- recovery that is important if you wish to get any benefits at all from your training. [11]


Effects Of Alcohol On Lowering Human Growth Hormone Production & Disturbing Sleep Patterns

Alcohol negatively affects growth hormone and sleep patterns
Alcohol also disturbs sleep patterns in healthy individuals and suppresses growth hormone production by as much as 75%.


Not only does acute alcohol use depress testosterone levels, but it also disturbs deep sleep patterns in healthy individuals, and in so doing affects another component critical to recovery after exercise- human growth hormone (HGH). In addition to increasing muscle mass and protein synthesis, HGH also promotes fat burning and stimulates the immune system. HGH is secreted by the pituitary gland with secretory peaks occurring during sleep, [19] however several studies have found that acute alcohol ingestion interferes with sleep cycles and reduces growth hormone production by as much as 70-75%.[18, 20,22] This alcohol related growth hormone suppression has been found to be dose related,[18] so the more you drink the less growth hormone your body will produce. Alcohol’s ability to induce drowsiness often prompts many individuals who work out regularly to use it as a sleeping aid in times of high stress or acute insomnia. However while many report that alcohol does indeed induce sleep [20]- the quality of that sleep isn’t always the same as it would be under normal circumstances. In an interesting twist, while alcohol does appear to help chronic insomniacs sleep better it has the very opposite effect on healthy individuals who use it sporadically.[21]  For reasons not quite fully understood, healthy individuals experienced marked sleep disruption during the second half of the night- disruptions that were not observed in those suffering with chronic sleeplessness.[19, 20]



The clinical implications of alcohol’s inhibitory effects on growth hormone are unclear, particularly with chronic and excessive alcohol use. Unfortunately, these findings, as important as they may be, have not been pursued much further. More studies are needed as well with regard to the suppressive effects of alcohol on testosterone with regards to its overall impact on exercise recovery. Women secrete as much as 20 times less testosterone daily than their male counterparts [16,17] and thus it is important to discern how much of an effect alcohol would have on them after training as no such research currently exists.  One would imagine that the overall depressive effect might have a greater negative impact on their exercise recovery but we can’t know for sure. More research is also needed to determine the relationship between alcohol dosage and testosterone suppression but such research is hard to come by as funding for studies on drinking that will most likely reveal a negative outcome is hard to come by. It is a simple but  seldom spoken economic reality that such studies do cost money- and it hard to sell research that isn’t necessarily profitable, much less experiments that might be detrimental to product sales.  In the end it isn’t for me or anyone else to tell you whether you should drink or not after training, but it is important to have all the facts so you can make an informed decision as opposed to relying on clever marketing that always paints alcohol consumption in a positive light.

Not Bad For Training Only Three Days A Week!

Because it's three days a week with soul crunching intensity non stop for the past 33 years.

There's no gimmick to it and it means being uncompromisingly all in for your workouts and with your nutrition.

I don't think there's that much that special about me.

There's nothing enhanced, nothing boosted by testosterone and there weren't any special "supplements" along the way.

Just three days of blistering hard work each week and meticulous attention to what I eat.

Being 90% on point each week means you are 100% off after 10 weeks and I can't emphasize enough how much of a difference unshakeable consistency makes to your overall results.

Most of the natural athletes didn't get where they are by any genetic advantage, they just did what is so very rare- which is stick to their process 100%.

It's not easy as it's not always easy and certainly not always popular, but you owe it to yourself to see just how far you can go if you go all in!

Looking forward to seeing your results and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #fitover40 #homegym #drugfreebodybuilding #gymselfie #hometraining #naturalbodybuildingmotivation

181 25

What I Eat To Stay Lean and Keep Building Muscle All Year Round.

If there every was a "secret" to how I consistently stay in shape (and almost 20 years since my last competition) the answer would be my diet.

Diet is the deciding factor in what your body looks like and your overall performance and I want to stress that while this is a layout of the foods I eat on a daily basis, it's not a blueprint for your YOU should be eating.

What it can be is an example of what it takes to maintain a certain degree of size and muscularity at all times as a natural athlete, and also the underlying principle to how I select my foods.

Which is that I don't eat junk foods or highly processed foods and I only drink water.

(No protein shakes, ever!)

If you can start with that, there's no doubt that you will be on the right track in terms of your nutrition.

So stay away from processed foods, know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingdiet #diet #whatieatinaday #mydiet #naturalbodybuildingvideos #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #drugfreebodybuilding #healthyeating #noproteinshakes #excelsior #bodybuilding #bodybuildingdiet

125 10

Post workout physique check in.

The contest gets closer and closer as the sun meanders across the sky, as my contest is and always will be, did I do everything I possibly could that day to improve?

Did I train hard enough?

Did I push it enough?

The dietary part isn't an issue.

It hasn't been for many years as I always make sure that my nutrition is on point, and there's no leeway on that front.

I don't feel good when I'm not eating optimally, and I respect myself enough to not settle into a place where not feeling my best is the norm.

And to be honest, it feels really good to put my head down at the end of the day knowing that I gave it my all.

Not that I was the best or was even necessarily successful at everything that I set out to accomplish, but knowing that I gave everything nonetheless.

It's a feeling I want everyone to have.

To sleep soundly knowing that you gave it your all.

That you didn't miss an opportunity to improve on what you are passionate about, because in so doing, you experience an eagerness to do the same the next day.

It's the ultimate contest and I invite everyone to submit their application forms, as it's one of the few competitions where everyone who does the work and shows up, is in the winner's circle.

Keep striving, keep pushing and as always, Excelsior! #naturallyintense

(Thanks @indi.anna.r or taking the shot, as I know your arm was probably shaking after that workout!)

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #fitover40 #homegym #drugfreebodybuilding #gymselfie #hometraining #naturalbodybuildingmotivation

159 13

Motivation vs Discipline. What You Really Need To Be Successful!

I am often asked what was my motivation to keep going starting off as a skinny 125lb kid who no one believed could ever be a successful bodybuilder.

The answer is that motivation didn't have that much to do with it.

Motivation may have played a part in getting me started, but it was discipline that got me to where I wanted to be.

Motivation is fleeting and ephemeral, it's not always going to be there and on the days when you don't feel like eating right or training hard, you need a disciplined practice to see you through.

A disciplined practiced based on doing what you need to do to be successful regardless of the circumstances.

That's how I made it through all those tough times when I felt I wasn't getting anywhere, and it's what will help you as well.

So forget motivation, focus on building a disciplined practice, know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #nosteroids #fitnessgoals #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideos #excelsior #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #disciplineovermotivation #disciplineequalsfreedom #discipline #motivation#fitness #mindset #selfdiscipline #fitnessmotivation #disciplinequotes #workout #disciplineiskey

110 27

Kevin's Ultimate Secret Six Pack Abs Tip!

If you ever wondered how I maintain a six pack all year round and have kept that six pack for decades on end, here's the secret.

This is one tip that will honestly get you on the path to a six pack.

There's no magic to it.

But if you follow this simple piece of advice, you will be able to do a lot more than get yourself a six pack, as it's a proven formula for success.

Give it a try and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#sixpack #sixpackabs #6pack #6packabs #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingvideo #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #sixpacktips #drugfreebodybuilding #abs

165 18

Happy Archery Day, everyone!!!

Yeah, it's a thing and can't say how much it's my thing!

To be honest, I am a barebow shooter and almost never shoot my compound bow (the monster in my hands) but it's all really good fun!

If you haven't tried archery or are thinking about doing it again, go give it a shot (no pun intended!!!)

And as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#archery #archeryday #bowtech #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #blackandwhite #bowtech

135 19

Do You Have Good Genetics for Natural Bodybuilding?

I don't believe it's the question that needs to be asked.

Far too many, myself included, who went on to be successful natural bodybuilders would never have been the men and women you would expect to have the genetics for bodybuilding.

But we put in the work, the years, the dedication and the consistency, and so what matters isn't the question of genetics, but rather do you have the passion, the drive and the discipline to train hard and focus on your diet nonstop for years on end to realize your potential?

That's the real question, and yes, there are men and women who have great genetics for natural bodybuilding, but there are even more who would be amazing onstage but don't know it because they didn't believe enough in themselves to put in the time to see how far they could go.

So I am here to say that I believe you have it in you to do amazing things, so if it's your goal, or even if you just want to improve the way you look, stick with it and don't quit!

Know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #nosteroids #fitnessgoals #bodytransformation #nodrugs #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideos #excelsior #fitover40 #personaltrainer #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #beleiveinyourself

157 17

Nope it's not a contest cut- it's just another day on the Path.

There are two ways to get cut, the fast way that requires going to extremes and which is inevitably temporary.

Or the Path-based way. Whereby your lifestyle and sustainable healthy practices get you there and keeps you there.

It takes time. It takes patience but it's an extremely honest endeavor.

If you put in the work and stay consistent with your training and following a processed food free and healthy diet, excellence is just a matter of time.

It takes time but as long as you draw breath, you have the time and you can do this.

So take the Path-based way and as always, Excelsior!!!

And my thanks to my son @reid_443 for snapping the shot, and the approval rating! 😂

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #fitover40 #homegym #drugfreebodybuilding #gymselfie #hometraining

260 32

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Related Articles:

One Drink Of Alcohol Can Inhibit Fat Loss


References for How Alcohol Inhibits The Beneficial Effects of Exercise

1. Agarwal B, Baur JA. Reservatrol and life extension. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2001
2. Renaud S, de Lorgeril M. Wine, alcohol, platelets, and the French paradox for coronary heart disease. Lancet. 1992
3. Clower W. The French Diet Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss. Three Rivers Press 2003
4. Astorg P, Arnault N, Czernichow S, Noisette N, Galan P, Hercberg S. Dietary intakes and food sources of n26 and n23 PUFA in French adult men and women. Lipids 2004
5. Kris-Etherton PM, Taylor DS, Yu-Poth S, Huth P, Moriarty K, Fishell V, Hargrove RL, Zhao G, Etherton TD.Polyunsaturated fatty acids in the food chain in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000
6.The Wine Institute. Wine Consumption In The U.S.
7. The Wine Institute. California and U.S. Wine Sales 2011
8. Guo R, Ren J. Alcohol and acetaldehyde in public health: From marvel to menace. Intl J Enviornmental Reasearch in public health 2010
9. Liber CS. Perspectives: Do alcohol calories count? AJCN 1991
10. Greenfield JR, Samaras K, Jenkins AB, Kelly PJ, Spector TD, Cambell LV. Moderate Alcohol consumption, dietary fat composition and abdominal obesity in women: Evidence for gene-environment interaction. J Clin Endocrinology & Metabolism 2003
11. Heikkonen E, Ylikahri R, Roine R, Valimaki M, Harkonen M, Salaspuro M. The combined effect of alcohol and physical exercise on serum testosteron, lutenizing hormone and cortisol in males. Alcholism: Clinical & Experimental Research 1996
12. Ellingboe J, Varenelli CC: Ethanol inhibits testosterone biosynthesis by direct action on Leydig cells. Res Comm Chem Pathol Pharmacol 1981
13. Widenius Tv: Ethanol-induced inhibition of testosterone biosynthesis in vitro: Lack of acetaldehyde effect. Alcohol Alcohol 1987
14. Van Thiel DH, Cobb CF, Herman GB, Perez HA, Estes L, Gavaler JS: An examination of various mechanisms for ethanol-induced testicular injury: Studies utilizing the isolated perfused rat testes. Endocrinology 1979
15. Ylikahri R, Huttenen M, Harkonen M, Seuderling U, Onikki S, Karonen S-L, Adlercreutz H: Low plasma testosterone values in men during hangover. J Steriod Biochem 1974
16. Southren AL, Gordon GG, Tochimoto S, Pinzon G, Lane DR, Stypulkowski W. “Mean plasma concentration, metabolic clearance and basal plasma production rates of testosterone in normal young men and women using a constant infusion procedure: effect of time of day and plasma concentration on the metabolic clearance rate of testosterone”. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 27 1967
17. Southren AL, Tochimoto S, Carmody NC, Isurugi K . “Plasma production rates of testosterone in normal adult men and women and in patients with the syndrome of feminizing testes”. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 1965
18. Prinz PN, Roehrs TA, Vitaliano PP, Linnoila M, Weitzman ED. Effect of alcohol on sleep and nighttime plasma growth hormone and cortisol concentrations. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1980
19. Roehrs T, Roth T. Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 2001
20. Ancoli-Israel S, Roth T. Characteristics of insomnia in the United States: Results of the 1991 National Sleep Foundation Survey. I. Sleep 2000.
21. Roehrs T, Papineau K, Rosenthal L, Roth T. Ethanol as a hypnotic in insomniacs: Self administration and effects of sleep and mood. Neuropsychopharmacology 1999
22. Ekman AC, Vakkuri O, Ekman M, et al. Ethanol decreases nocturnal plasma levels of thyrotropin and growth hormone but not those of thyroid hormones or prolactin in man. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1996.

Kevin Richardson
Kevin Richardsonhttps://www.naturallyintense.net
Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, celebrity Personal Trainer NYC and with over 2.6 million readers of his blog, Kevin Richardson is the creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, one of the top lifetime drug free bodybuilders of his time, the first International Fitness & Nutrition Consultant for UNICEF, 2020 and 8 Time Winner of the Best of Manhattan Awards for Personal Training and a world recognized authority on high intensity training. Kevin has helped thousands, from celebrities to CEO's over the past 30 years achieve their fitness goals with his 10 minute high-intensity workouts done just three times a week in conjunction with his holistic nutrition approach. You can learn more about about his diet and training services at www.naturallyintense.net

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