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.

High Intensity Bodyweight Training: Ballistic Pushups & Dips!

This was a tough one!

Starts out with ballistic push ups (like clap pushups but without the clap as my wrist is still not 100%) nonstop for 20 reps, then all out on dips for 10 reps.

To say it was painful would be an understatement, but you just have to push through and keep on going.

Still training, hope you are too and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#hometraining #homeworkout #homeworkout #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #chestday #chesttraining #naturalbodybuildingtips #pushups #dips #bodyweighttraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #calesthenics

13 2

Kevin's Unconventional Biceps Training- 3-6 Minutes a Week!

In this video I go over my biceps training using the Naturally Intense High Intensity Training protocols that helped me go from having arms measuring 11.5 to 12 inches to 18 inches drug free!

It's an unconventional approach for certain, but it's one that's helped my arms grow and the hundreds of men and women I have trained over the past 30 plus years.

Now, my success isn't due to being genetically gifted, as it took me the better part of 11 years to get my arms up to those measurements.

Which is significant as it works and been been proven time and time again to work for the average man or woman trying to grow their arms without drugs.

It's my hope that these high intensity training protocols can help you as much as they helped me!

Click on my bio link to see the full video on my YouTube channel and thanks as always for taking the time to look at my work!!! Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #armworkout #bicepsworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #biceps #armtraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #barbellcurls

55 8

At the Lancaster Classic Day 2 Elimination Rounds Against European Champion, and World Record Holder Leo Pettersen @leo_barebow_archer

I don't talk much about it but I'm also a competitive barebow archer (surprise!) and last Saturday I had the honor of making it to Day 2 at the Lancaster Archery Classic in the Barebow Division, as I made the top 64 out of 267 competitors and had a chance to shoot with some of the greatest barebow shooters on the planet!

I didn't make it past Leo, but it was a real rush to be there and a huge thanks to my coach, Joe MyGlyn @prolinearchery for helping me get there.

Thanks as well to my good friend @sean_chan33 for all of his help from the very start, to my line buddy Aaron Shea for taking the shot and showing up to support!

My thanks as well to rob_kaufhold for putting on and promoting one of the best archery tournaments on earth!

Thanks also to to everyone who took the time to send a supporting word and I am looking forward to next year!!! #naturallyintense #barebow

#lancasterclassic #lancasterarcheryclassic2024 #lancasterarchery #archery #fitover40 #barebowrecurve #targetarchery

38 9

Dumbo, Brooklyn circa 2004

This shot was taken as part of the promotion for my Naturally Intense DVD and was about a year after my last bodybuilding competition.

It was a grueling photoshoot.

We started at about 10 am and finished around 4pm and I was completely spent, but the more we shot the sharper I looked, so we kept on going.

It's nice to look back from time to time and as tired as I was, we all had a blast!

My thanks to @stephanie_corne_artwork, @https://pulse.ly/itgnag2dec and @ftaz1 for taking the shots!!!

Thanks for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #throwback #fifthavenuegym #5thavenuegym #drugfreebodybuilding #naturalbodybuildinglifestyle #gymlife #gymmotivation #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #bodybuilding #blackandwhite #instablackandwhite #bnw

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Can You Build An Impressive Physique Training Only At Home?


I stopped training in commercial gyms as of March 2020 and have been training at home ever since.

Initially I was admittedly worried that I might lose some of my gains or not make as much progress, but that certainly wasn't the case.

I've consistently continued to improve with my high intensity workouts and muscles have no idea where they are training.

As long as the criteria of adequate intensity and overload are met, there will be an adaptive response and your muscles will get bigger and stronger.

So don't worry at all about where you train, focus instead of what will be the best way for you to always be training!

Thanks for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

97 3

Kevin's Three Day Training Spilt!

For the past 33 years I have trained three times a week with Naturally Intense High Intensity Training workouts lasting 10, 15 to 20 minutes max.

It's a training split tried and testes not only in it's helping me realize my goal of becoming a successful natural bodybuilder, but it's also helped hundreds of men and women over the past three decades.

I have tested just about every possible training split imaginable and for this particular style of high intensity training, this particular grouping consistently yields fantastic results.

I hope it helps you as much as it's helped me over the years and thanks so much for taking the time to look at my work.

Keep training hard and Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#trainingsplit #3daytrainingsplit #threedaytrainingsplit #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideo #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #naturalbodybuildingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #bodybuilding #highintensitytraining #highintensitytrainingtips

147 26

405 Stiff Leg Deadlift for 7 Reps! High Intensity Training.

First leg workout of the year and already pushing it!

I haven't done a stiff leg deadlift over 315lbs for about 3 years at this point, and I did my last set with 315lbs and comfortably got to 10 reps and decided I had far too much gas left in the tank and that I should go up in weight.

So I did.

I figured I might get a solid 6 reps in, but I made it to 7 and I think I could have gone on to get a full 10 reps BUT that's when good judgement prevailed.

As a bodybuilder having not trained this heavy for so many years, the shock of this much weight would be more than enough to stimulate muscle growth, and doing more reps wouldn't yield any greater returns, only increase the likelihood of injury.

It's not about the numbers, it's about training to a point where you achieve your goal, and it's important to have a goal in mind as a bodybuilder based on increasing muscle mass rather than hitting a particular number.

Besides, if in my 20's I never did more than 405lbs on a stiff leg deadlift, it doesn't make any sense going heavier than when I am almost 50!

Could I deadlift more at this point?

Absolutely but just because you can doesn't mean you should!

So keep those weights in a good working range, keep it safe and as always Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#hometraining #homeworkout #homeworkout #roguerack #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #backworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #backtraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #fitoverforty #deadlift

71 20

Turning 50 in a few months...

Not much of a big deal for me as I still feel pretty much the same but I hope that my example helps show what can be done with a lifetime commitment to eating well and training consistently!

Thanks for coming along on the journey and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #healthylifestyle #fitover40 #drugfreebodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #natty #fitness

242 41

Please note that all material is copyrighted and DMCA Protected and can be reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the author.

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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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