Alcohol. For the majority of the population, alcohol consumption arrives somewhere along the line, whether as a result of college peer pressure, unwinding with friends after a long day at work, or just enjoying a sunset with a glass of merlot. Whether your choice is beer, wine, or liquor, at some point, most people choose to consume alcohol. For those that do, the benefits can be improved life enjoyment and some health benefits as well. For others, a detriment soon arrives and they fall short of many of their goals, in and out of the gym, due to excessive use. Let’s look at the benefits & drawbacks of alcohol consumption for the lifter, and search for a compromise which optimizes gains while at the same time allowing for alcohol consumption. Benefits First off, alcohol contains calories. If you have a hard time gaining weight, then a beer or two here and there isn’t a huge deal. For lowering blood pressure and improving circulation, it’s generally accepted that red wine can be a great aid. And many people just enjoy spending time with friends & family, and alcohol is sometimes a part of that. You don’t have to live in a goldfish bowl to be a successful bodybuilder (although your results would be better if you would!). Staying sane often involves having a drink now and then, which is not a big deal, even if you’re a serious lifter. Drawbacks Alcohol use does have its negatives as well, particularly when used in high volume on a regular basis. Heavy alcohol consumption can lower testosterone levels, as well as interfere with the fat-burning processes of the body. Protein synthesis can be slowed as well, since your body will first devote resources to processing the alcohol, then return to its regularly scheduled programming! Alcohol can lower HGH levels, spike estrogen, and affect the body in several other ways. And of course, alcohol dehydrates the body, which can be the #1 enemy of bodybuilders. Do you really want to nullify the hard work you complete and hurt the effectiveness of supplements you are taking? Reaching a Compromise As a lifter interested in making the best possible gains, you should probably do your best to minimize how much alcohol you consume on a regular basis. Write down your goals. If you wish to gain 20 pounds of muscle while adding 50 pounds to your bench press, then you’re going to need to eat every scheduled meal, stay hydrated at all time, and maximize the effects of growth hormone and testosterone in your body. An occasional drink will allow that – but daily drinking will not. Beer is higher in calories, and probably not your ideal choice. Liquor is very hard on the organs – and if you flirt with ‘super supplements’, you should steer clear. A glass of wine is a popular choice for drinking bodybuilders –and never more than two glasses. Drinking alcohol isn’t for everyone. Many famous athletes, actors, and many everyday Joes have given up alcohol, or never even touched it, and they live long, happy, rewarding lives. If you do choose to indulge, you should keep your use moderate and keep your bigger strength & muscle gains goals in mind, always placing your gains before the bottle. Good luck!