Research Question of the Week--Alcohol and the Elite Athlete - ABCbodybuilding

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Old 07-18-2006, 03:37 AM
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Default Research Question of the Week--Alcohol and the Elite Athlete

A nice pretty version of this can be found at:
http://www.abcbodybuilding.com/alcohol.pdf

Authors Note: (skip to not get bored too soon!)

A few weeks ago I PM'd Venom asking if it'd be alright for me to do a research article for the members research section on alcohol, even though alcohol has been killed to death in the nutrition (mostly) forum. Anyways, he actually said that it'd be very nice to have one, so I went ahead and began working on one. Well, I got distracted by graduation and graduation parties plus college stuff and end of the year projects, so development came to a half for about 2-3 weeks. However last week I just killed it in the article and whipped out a bunch of pages for it faster than I figured I would do and finished it. So here it (finally) is, without further adue, my alcohol article.


A History of Alcohol

Alcohol has been around for a very long time. Objects identified as beer jugs have been recovered from the time era known as the Stone Age. Wine has been seen in Egyptian pictographs. Osiris is the god of wine in Egypt, and was honored all over the country, even though many gods in Egyptian culture were localized. The Egyptians were under the impression that Osiris had created this wonderful drink. They considered it to be a necessity in life. However, even these days they understood the importance of moderation. Inebriety, while not completely taboo, was not exactly something to be proud about.
The Greeks, the Chinese, the Babylonians all had ways of making early forms of wine and alcohol. Just like the Egyptians however, moderation was still seen as key. There was an exception to this however, the cult of Dionysis, felt that inebriety would bring one closer to the god.


A statue depicting Dionysus, the Thracian god of wine.

The mother of Alexander the Great, was a follower of this Dionysian cult. Alexander the Great had a penchant for alcohol and had a reputation for being intoxicated.

In the late fourth century, the Christian Church stated that wine was a gift that God had brought us and that it should be used and also enjoyed. To despise wine was considered heresy. The Bible is very clear about it’s stance on drunkenness. Some people argue however about the Bible’s stance on alcohol in moderation. It can take time, but with proper interpretation of the Bible, accurate conclusions can be drawn.

[Note: I’d prefer to keep this thread about the physiological effects of alcohol, and avoid spiritual effects of alcohol. There is already a fantastic Bible study done by Old School here.]

Now, jump to the 18th century in England where there was an excess supply of grain. The government decided to become directly involved with, and encourage, the supply of alcohol. This was in an attempt to raise revenue whilst lowering the excess amount of grain. The outcome of this was the flooding of the streets with very cheap liquors. The “Gin Epidemic” had begun. It wasn’t until about seven years later when this fad eventually died down.

As the effects of alcohol have been more accurately been assessed, laws have been provided in many countries world wide restricting the allowances of alcohol. Some laws restrict the age that one must be in order to purchase alcohol, while others limit how many an adult may consume before he/she is no longer able to perform certain tasks (driving, for instance).

These new laws are direct outcomes of new research and facts about alcohol over the past century. The laws represent the still standing paradigm of drinking in moderation. This is fine for the majority of the public.
…But we are not the majority of the public. When we see an RDA, we think to ourselves, “Okay, now what’s 3 times that?” When we see someone pushing their car up a hill, it provides us with inspiration, rather than pity or laughter. When we can hardly walk, or lift, or perhaps even just threw up a little bit (or a lot of a bit), we know we did our job well. We’re proud. So we know that we can’t really accept for ourselves, what may be socially acceptable. We must reject this idea of “moderation,” as moderation is such a relevant term.


Goals of this Study on Alcohol:

The goal of this study is to determine how much alcohol it requires to have an effect on the goals of the ABC style bodybuilder. The follow and more questions will be answered:
[ QUOTE ]

-How much can I have before my goals will be affected?
-Can I have alcohol and still be a bodybuilder?
-What about so-and-so? They are RIPPED and they drink EVERY night.
-I am in college, how can you possibly expect me to not drink?


[/ QUOTE ]

Defining and Creating Alcohol
First off, it is important to note that alcohol IS in fact a drug. It is considered a psychoactive drug. A psychoactive drug is a drug that alters the way that brain functions. Alcohol, specifically, acts as a depressant. A dictionary would define alcohol as such:

[ QUOTE ]
A colorless volatile flammable liquid, C2H5OH, synthesized or obtained by fermentation of sugars and starches and widely used, either pure or denatured, as a solvent and in drugs, cleaning solutions, explosives, and intoxicating beverages.

[/ QUOTE ]

Make a note of that last part here: Widely used. … and in drugs, cleaning solution, explosives, and intoxicating beverages.

In any case, an understanding of how alcohol is made will provide a better understanding of alcohol in general. Although there are many different substances that can be used to get alcohol (apples, wheat, barley, rice) the most common is corn. Corn is actually what is used to make moonshine.

The reader may be familiar with fermentation already. As the reader most likely knows the body can harvest energy from food in two ways: fermentation and cellular respiration. When the body relies on fermentation for this, pyruvic acid accepts two protons. The product is something which the reader has most definitely felt: lactic acid. Along with other types of fermentation, there also exists alcohol fermentation. The products of which is predictable: ethanol and carbon dioxide.
So the substance chosen to create alcohol from needs to be fermented, which is often a terribly smelly process. It is then boiled off and re-condensed in an effort to make it more pure. This process may be repeated numerous times in an effort to make it more and more pure.
All that is left is ethanol, and perhaps some water. It is very dangerous to consume this straight, as this high of a proof of alcohol is quite likely to be fatal. Once it is mixed with other substances (flavorings, diluters, etc.) it becomes safer to consume.

Alcohol and sleep:

I feel is it best to begin this section of the article with a quote from ABC’s very own moderator and friend, Old School:
[ QUOTE ]
Over the past month I have come to the conclusion that each of the three core factors of body building is equally important as the other. These three factors include training, nutrition, and sleep. All of which have to be at their absolute best for optimal growth and recovery to occur! It is my firm belief that nutrition is not more important than sleep, or training more important than nutrition, or sleep more crucial than training. Indeed it is none of these combinations or any other conceivable ones. I believe each is just as critical as the other!

[/ QUOTE ]
http://abcbodybuilding.com/zfactor.php
Clearly, sleep is absolutely crucial if one wishes to be able to perform at peak levels and also get the most out of their efforts in the gym. If sleep is a friend, alcohol is an enemy. Here is some insight on the product of combining alcohol and sleep.
It is arguable that alcohol’s most dangerous effects on the bodybuilder occur at night, in the safety of the bed! This paper will begin with what may be the most staggering fact uncovered during research: alcohol consumption before bed can lower human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 70% [1]! It may take a second or two to comprehend just how suicidal that is. Seventy percent. Part of what makes sleep so crucial is the fact that it is when our bodies are at the highest rate of HGH and testosterone production. It is so very important to interfere with this as little as possible. Alcohol at this time, or the hours before is clearly committing muscular suicide.
Another facet of sleep that makes it so important is that the muscles can relax at this time more than any other. This means they are recovering from hardcore workouts and as little disruption as possible would be optimal. However, as little as two or three drinks can interfere directly with sleep. Initially, due to alcohol’s sedative effects, it is actually easier to fall asleep, however high quality sleep becomes difficult to achieve when alcohol is in-play [2,8]. Low quality sleep can affect insulin sensitivity. [3,4]

Alcohol and Oxidative Stress:


Oxidative stress is a condition where one’s body has more free radicals, or more oxidants, than your body is prepared to handle. ABC has a wonderful article, see the link below the quote for more info.

[ QUOTE ]

…The reaction of free radicals with cell membranes is one of the actions that lead to tissue damage…

…The current research suggests free radical formation, by the above described pathways, plays a role in continuing the amount of muscle membrane disruption after exercise …
…React quickly with other compounds, doing cell and body damage…
…Once produced they multiply unless neutralized by anti-oxidants (or other free radical scavengers)…


[/ QUOTE ]
http://www.abcbodybuilding.com/freeradicals.php

Oxidants are very, very harmful for the bodybuilder. They will completely tear apart the important muscle cells you have spent so many hard hours building up! Oxidants are to be kept to a minimum at all costs!

Now, with that said, it is not important to discuss alcohol and its effects on the production of oxidants in the body.

First and foremost: alcohol, in any amount, increases the number of free radicals in one’s body [5,6,7,9]. When alcohol is taken in by the body, two molecules are produced: acetaldehyde and malondialdehyde. These are created through the metabolism of alcohol and they are completely unavoidable as long as the body is taking in alcohol[6]. The two molecules can corrupt DNA and many kinds of other damage associated with free radicals on the body’s cells. One of the most important muscles in the body, the heart, is not immune to these damages. The heart is just as likely as any other organ or tissues to be deteriorated by the free radicals generated when alcohol is consumed [5].

Alcohol, Minerals, &Vitamins:]

Ask any member of ABC and that member would be able to tell you how important minerals and vitamins (and the supplementation of them) really is to a bodybuilder. Not only are minerals and vitamins important to bodybuilding, they also provide a general feeling of well being. As there is such a vast array of quotes that could be used here, a direct link to ABC’s page providing evidence for the applications and importance of minerals and vitamins is right here:

http://abcbodybuilding.com/nutrition...4&subId=35

At the time of this writing there are ten article links there which are all very excellent reads, along with a link to the ABC store, which can also be found right here:

http://abcbodybuilding.com/championsups.php

In any case, having proper knowledge of many of the vitamins and minerals discussed on ABC will help contribute to a deeper understanding of this section (Note: this is really true of all sections, but especially in this section.). VAMs, heretofore referred to as vitamins and minerals are incredibly important for the bodybuilder, and alcohol will have a direct effect on VAMs in the body.

Alcohol can and will create deficiencies in nearly all VAMs [10-22]. Nearly regardless of quantity, alcohol will destroy the following b vitamins: Piroxodine, Cyanocobalamin, and Folic Acid [18]. More commonly known as B6, B12, and B9, respectively, of the B-complex group. These are all important for reasons this author won’t discuss as it has already been discussed at length here: http://abcbodybuilding.com/vitaminbcomplex.php.

[ QUOTE ]
Every drink you take causes thiamine loss, impaired B6 activation, folate loss, and increased magnesium excretion.

[/ QUOTE ]
[19]

Increased magnesium excretion brings up the topic of mineral loss and poor absorption of what isn’t lost. Many minerals are lost in addition to vitamins. Magnesium, copper, zinc, calcium, and potassium are among some of the minerals that are affected by the introduction of alcohol into the body [20,17,19,13]. This means that in addition to whatever amount of supplements are currently being taken in by the elite athlete, will need to be further increased in order to make up for the destruction, lack of absorption, and loss of these minerals.

Vitamin A and vitamin C are also negatively affected by alcohol intake[16,15].


Alcohol and Hormones:

It is such a vital fact that it needs to be restated from earlier in this paper:

[ QUOTE ]
…the most staggering fact uncovered during research: alcohol consumption before bed can lower human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 70% [1]!

[/ QUOTE ]

HGH is one of the bodybuilder’s biggest weapons for growth in his arsenal. If HGH is suffering, the bodybuilder will suffer. Plain and simple. Had a hard night of squats? Puked all over because of the intensity on that last squat rep? Well prepare for a night with a lot of growth, that is, unless alcohol is in the mix.
HGH is not the only hormone that is affected by alcohol. In addition to HGH, testosterone, arguably the “BFG” of the bodybuilder’s arsenal, is affected by alcohol [1,23,24,25,26,27]. Don’t forget if a bodybuilder is supplementing with ZMA before bed in an effort to increase testosterone (amongst ZMA’s other benefits), this will be canceled out for not only the reason that alcohol’s toxicity is dangerous to testosterone, but also because alcohol will lower the absorption and increase the release of zinc and magnesium. Testosterone is so very vitally important to the bodybuilder, this paragraph alone from the paper should be evidence enough to avoid alcohol at all costs (even ego!).
Insulin is also affected by alcohol intake [3,4,28,]. Poor sleep which has been shown to be a result of alcohol, can lower the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates. This creates an excess of glucose in the body and will therefore cause an overproduction of insulin, which should be avoided as much as possible in order to keep the PWO ****tail as effective as possible.
In addition to insulin, HGH, and testosterone, several other hormones are affected two of which are Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1) and melatonin [28]. Melatonin’s levels are depressed by alcohol. Melatonin is released in order to allow the body to realize it is time to go to sleep. It also assists in providing long and deep (and recovering!) sleep sessions. It is very important to the bodybuilder. Here is what one source had to say about melatonin:

[ QUOTE ]
Remember that any amount of alcohol use is a sure fire way to stop your body’s production of melatonin for that night.

[/ QUOTE ]

That quote is by Dr. Joseph Mercola in his October 2005 article. There are many other hormones affected by alcohol, the last one that will be mentioned in this paper will be cortisol. Cortisol is definitely a hormone that most members of ABC would be familiar with. For everyone else cortisol is, well, the enemy. It has been shown that cortisol levels increase during alcohol intake [29].


Alcohol at a More Molecular Level:

Alcohol (even in short-term usage) decreases the rates of protein synthesis [28,30,31]. Labs have shown this end is achieved by alcohol’s impairment of mRNA translation at peptide level initiation. Peptide level initiation is a rate limiting step which basically means that the whole process is limited to the speed that the process is reaching. Protein synthesis is a process utilized by the body’s muscles in order to build up muscles. If one is lifting weights (breaking down/destroying muscles) and drinking, this produces just about a QUINTUPLE whammy. They would be breaking down muscles, then not receiving enough recovery during rest due to the alcohol, then having lower levels of HGH, IGF-1, testosterone, produced, lower rates of protein synthesis, higher levels of cortisol released, and finally they become more insulin resistant which lowers the body’s response to the PWO ****tail.
Alcohol also reduces the rate of glycogen synthesis in addition to protein synthesis [32], as stated earlier this can cause resistance to a bodybuilder’s good friend insulin. This isn’t good.
Not only are the rates of glycogen and protein synthesis decreased, the rate of cholesterol synthesis is increased [31]. Which puts anyone at a greater risk of coronary heart disease.


Alcohol and Final Misc. Concepts:

[ QUOTE ]
The kidneys filter large amounts of water from many parts of the body, including the brain, to break down alcohol. This causes dehydration and can cripple an athlete’s performance.

[/ QUOTE ]

Dehydration is to avoided by the bodybuilder just as much as a hypoglycemic state is to be (assuming it’s not PWO). Alcohol is a diuretic, like caffeine is. Alcohol removes more water from the body than it adds. It is impossible to survive off of alcohol as your only source of drink. The body would eventually reach equilibrium due to dehydration.
[ QUOTE ]
Aerobic capacity can be affected for up to 48 hours after consumption. Two nights of back to back high risk drinking (5+) can affect you for up to 5 days.

[/ QUOTE ][33]
Alcohol is also related to a reduced metabolism [28].
[ QUOTE ]
Alcohol should not be used by anyone who is trying to lose weight. Alcohol is not a food, but rather a drug. In fact, it may be considered a poison because it causes metabolic damage in the body and depresses the immune system.

[/ QUOTE ]
"Optimum Health," The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, book by Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACC.

Final Statements by the Author:
Now that you have seen the effects of alcohol on the body, you can more accurately interpret the answers to some of the questions posed at the beginning:
[ QUOTE ]

-How much can I have before my goals will be affected?
-Can I have alcohol and still be a bodybuilder?
-What about so-and-so? They are RIPPED and they drink EVERY night.
-I am in college, how can you possibly expect me to not drink?


[/ QUOTE ]
The first question is very relative. It depends on what your goals are. Try to decide what your goals are (really, you should already have done this!) and then decide how those goals will be affected by the different effects of alcohol.

Can you still have alcohol and be a bodybuilder? No doubt, but if you’re going to put in so much effort in the gym as a bodybuilder, why waste it by putting something like alcohol into your system?

As for your friend/acquaintance who is really ripped and they are a complete slob, well perhaps they have got excellent genes, perhaps they are supplementing with other substances that are to be avoided, or perhaps they are just absolutely destroying their body in the gym, with an absolutely amazing diet for the rest of the day. You should also think of where this person would be without the effects of alcohol hurting his gains.

How can I expect you not to drink in college? Well, many of the members here at ABC do. Usually just tell them that you don’t want it to interfere with your sports and other activities, upon hearing this they usually understand. Even if they don’t, who really cares? It’s not like they’re going to hate you for it. If you can’t swallow your ego, you can always just lie and make up an excuse like you have to drive somewhere in a bit and you don’t drink and drive.

Conclusion:
Alcohol is bad.

-==========Thanks for reading==========-

Although it isn't cited, in this section, this article wouldn't exist if not for ABC and all of it's wonderful articles, so first and foremost, I'd like to cite every article I have ever read on ABC, but that'd take too long, so just go look at them all! (Articles specifically used in this are cited directly in the text)

1: Pumped: Straight Facts for Athletes about Drugs, Supplements, and Training, C. Kuhn, S. Swartzwelder, and W. Wilson (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000)
2: Excedrin Headache Relief Update, 1996
3: "Paying the price for cheating on sleep," The New York Times, Dec. 28, 1999
4: Thyroid weight loss center: planning to lose weight in the new year? Experts say, "Think Sleep," thyroid.about.com, Jan. 2003
5: Toast to your health,” Hong Kong Medical Journal, hkam.org, Aug. 2000
6: “Alcohol-induced hangover: Prevention,” LifeExtension, lef.org, Feb. 2004
7: “Happy hour corrodes the body,” academicpress.com, the Science Newsroom, Oct. 2001
8: "When you're stressed out," Food and Fitness Advisor newsletter, Feb. 2002
9: Lipidology. 12(1):19-23, February 2001. van Tol, Arie a; Hendriks, Henk F.J. b
10: Monique Ryan, RD, MS
11: http://chemhlth.luther.edu/athl.html
12: Alcohol Health and Research World, 1990, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
13: Dept. of Health and Human Services, Report to Congress, 1990
14: "Health check," by Nancy Snyderman, MD, Good Housekeeping, Jan. 1998
15: Lieber CS. Biochemical and molecular basis of alcohol-induced injury to liver and other tissues. New England Journal of Medicine, 1988
16: "Eye signs can reveal your nutritional health," alternativemedicine.com, June 2001
17: “The Complete Guide to Your Emotions and Your Health,” Editors of Prevention magazine. 1986
18: "The Ultimate Anti-aging Program," Gary Null, 1999
19: “Hormone Replacement Therapy: Yes or No,” by Betty Kamen, 2002
20: "Tired or Toxic," by Sherry A. Rogers, an expert on chemical sensitivities, and how low levels of vitamins/nutrients can cause serious health problems, 1990
21: body wise.com, May 2004
22: Sensible Drinking: The Report of an Inter-Departmental Working Group, Department of Health, December 1995:10.20
23: http://www.uwsp.edu/centers/studenthealt..._hormone_pr.htm
24: "Alcohol's Effects On Male Reproduction," Alcohol Health & Research World, NIAAA, 1998
25: HealthSense newsletter, Stephen Sinatra, MD, Aug. 1999
26: “Alcohol Impairs Reproductive Functions," Alcohol Alert, NIAAA, 2001
27: “Alcohol's Effect on the Liver," Charles Lieber, MD, Alcohol Research and Treatment Center, Professor of Medicine and Pathology, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine of the City University of New York, Sep. 2002 - www.health20-20.org
28: Preedy VR, Patel VB, Reilly ME, Richardson PJ, Falkous G, Mantle D. (August 1999) Oxidants, antioxidants and alcohol: implications for skeletal and cardiac muscle. Frontiers in Bioscience Volume 1:4: pages e58-e66
29: http://www.uwsp.edu/centers/studenthealt..._hormone_pr.htm
30: Vinayshree Kumar, Robert A. Frost, and Charles H. Lang, Departments of Cellular and Molecular Physiology and Surgery, Pennsylvania State College of Medicine
31: http://www.aminoactive.com.au/shtml/alcohol.shtml
32: Monique Ryan, RD, MS
33: http://chemhlth.luther.edu/athl.html
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Old 07-18-2006, 03:42 AM
Down 2 Die Down 2 Die is offline
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week--Alcohol and the Elite Athlete

That's an awesome article Rocky

Great work and research bro
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Old 07-18-2006, 03:43 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week--Alcohol and the Elite Athlete

[ QUOTE ]
That's an awesome article Rocky

Great work and research bro

[/ QUOTE ]

Thanks, bro!
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Old 07-18-2006, 06:34 PM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week--Alcohol and the Elite Athlete

Wow!

I'm excited to see this type of research being conducted. I am going to print this out and add my thoughts a bit later today.

Thanks for your hard research and contributions!
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Old 07-18-2006, 06:46 PM
Adam Knowlden Adam Knowlden is offline
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week--Alcohol and the Elite Athlete

That was awesome bro! Thanks for all your effort!
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Old 07-18-2006, 07:36 PM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week--Alcohol and the Elite Athlete

[ QUOTE ]
Wow!

I'm excited to see this type of research being conducted. I am going to print this out and add my thoughts a bit later today.

Thanks for your hard research and contributions!

[/ QUOTE ]

I'm very interested in hearing what you think of it! There are some very startling facts in there!

[ QUOTE ]
That was awesome bro! Thanks for all your effort!

[/ QUOTE ]

Thanks man! It's nothing compared to all the pages of JHR you guys have whipped out, but I'm trying to give a little back too! [img]/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
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Old 07-19-2006, 12:10 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week--Alcohol and the Elite Athlete

This is really great Rocky!

That part about the Church and wine in the 4th century is interesting.
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Old 07-19-2006, 04:49 PM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week--Alcohol and the Elite Athlete

[ QUOTE ]
This is really great Rocky!

That part about the Church and wine in the 4th century is interesting.

[/ QUOTE ]

Thanks!

I definitely learned a lot while researching this article! [img]/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
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Old 07-20-2006, 08:51 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week--Alcohol and the Elite Athlete

This is a great piece of work, well done. It will be useful to link this thread when someone asks the usual "how much will alcohol affect my gains" question in the forums!
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Old 07-20-2006, 09:49 PM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week--Alcohol and the Elite Athlete

The first thing I do when reading a scientific article, is scroll the the bottom and read the references. I was thrilled when I saw this article had over 30 references!

Excellent job on your research, Rocky. This is a great contribution to our site.
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