Is Champagne Good for Muscle Building?
7th May 2023
Champagne offers no special benefits to the muscle-building process. On the other hand, neither is it particularly detrimental to your bodybuilding efforts.
In fact, of all your alcohol choices, Champagne is a smarter one than most for iron pumpers who want to enjoy a drink without negating their gym sweat equity.
As a gym owner and personal trainer, I’ve been helping people build muscle for the last 35 years with weight lifting workouts like this. Over that time I’ve seen many people undo a lot of their hard work in the gym with hard nights out on the town. I’ve come to the realization that telling them not to drink simply isn’t realistic. Switching to less harmful types of alcohol, though, is doable for most people who are serious about their gains.
In this article, we will discuss the effects that alcohol in general, and Champagne in particular, can have on the body’s ability to build lean muscle tissue. We’ll also find out why Champagne is a better alcohol choice than most for people who are trying to pack on muscle mass.
How Alcohol Affects Muscle Building
Champagne contains between 10 and 12% alcohol content. That’s more than double what you’ll find in most beers. Researchers have identified a number of ways that alcohol negatively affects the body’s ability to build muscle.
Protein Synthesis Impairment
When you work out with weights, you place stress upon your muscle fibers. The body responds to this stress by adding size to the muscle fibers so they can meet that same demand in the future. The process by which new muscle is added is called protein synthesis.
Protein synthesis can only occur if there are sufficient amino acids and other nutrients available. Studies have shown that alcohol impairs protein synthesis.
In one study, a group of eight men was put on a weight training program. They were given alcohol and whey protein immediately after their workout and then again four hours later. Two hours after the training session they were given a high carbohydrate meal.
Muscle biopsies were conducted straight after the workouts, and then two and four hours later. The results show that alcohol combined with protein reduced protein synthesis by an average of 24%. When taken in conjunction with carbohydrates, alcohol reduced protein synthesis by 37%.
The researchers concluded that alcohol has a detrimental effect on protein synthesis, even when optimal nutrition practices are followed.
In addition to its potential to inhibit protein synthesis, alcohol also negatively affects the body’s ability to absorb all other nutrients. This is because it decreases the activity of digestive enzymes.
Possible Testosterone Inhibition
Testosterone is the body’s main anabolic hormone. The more of it you have coursing through your system, the more readily you will be able to build muscle.
There is some evidence that alcohol can inhibit the body’s production of testosterone. You would, however, have to be drinking quite a lot for this to happen. A 2008 study suggested that it would take a 180-pound man nine standard drinks before there was any negative testosterone effect after exercise.
In another study, it was shown that excessive alcohol consumption can actually lead to the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, which is a female sex hormone that actively works against muscle building.
The clear message from the studies is that overdrinking will definitely rob you of your muscle gains.
How Alcohol Affects Leanness
When attempting to put on muscle, the vast majority of people want those added pounds to be as lean as possible. This helps them to achieve the shredded, athletic look that most people desire. So, it’s important to consider the effect that alcohol consumption has on a person’s ability to get lean.
A gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. That compares to 4 cal per gram for protein and carbohydrate. So, simply on a gram-for-gram basis, alcohol is going to ramp up your caloric intake. While people trying to add muscle mass need to increase the calories, they don’t want that added amount to come from empty calories. Yet that is exactly what you get with most alcoholic drinks.
Unlike proteins and fats, alcohol does not fill a person up. In fact, it does the opposite – it makes them want to eat more food. Alcohol also has a dehydrating effect on the body, taking away water that is vital to the muscle-building process.
Furthermore, when you drink alcohol, your body will stop its metabolism of fats and carbohydrates in order to prioritize the processing of alcohol. That’s because the body views alcohol as a toxin. During the time that the metabolism is busy processing the alcohol, any facts or carbohydrates that you consume will be stored as body fat.
There is a study that indicates that drinking alcohol makes it harder for the body to burn belly fat.
All of these effects combine to make it hard for people who are regular consumers of alcohol to stay lean.
How Alcohol Affects Sleep
It is when we are sleeping that our bodies undertake a majority of their repair and rebuilding work. So, to gain muscle, we need to be enjoying good quality and quantity of sleep.
Studies have shown that alcohol negatively affects REM sleep. Drinkers also tend to wake up several times throughout the night. They are unable to cycle through the five stages of sleep and end up with several portions of unsatisfying broken sleep.
As a result, people who drink excessively before bed may feel sluggish and drowsy the next day.
Focusing on Champagne
So far, we’ve found out that the 10-12.5 percent alcohol content of Champagne is not good news for your ability to build muscle. We need to keep in mind, though, that most of the research has indicated detrimental effects on muscle-building potential when quite large quantities of alcohol are consumed.
Champagne is not consumed in the same quantity as beverages such as wine or beer. Whereas a person may easily chug through three or four cans of beer in an evening, they’d more than likely be content with no more than a glass or two of bubbly. It is a drink to be sipped and savored rather than gulped down.
Bubbly drinks such as Champagne also tend to make people drink more slowly. They have the added benefit of making people feel fuller than when they drink non-bubbly alcoholic alternatives.
Even though Champagne has twice as much alcohol content as beer, the fact that you’ll be drinking far less of it will make you better off. Switching to Champagne, then, is a strategy that can actually help iron pumpers to avoid the negative effects of drinking too much when they go out.
Drinking less alcohol isn’t the only benefit of switching to Champagne for health-conscious people. Champagne contains fewer calories than red and white wine and a lot less than beer. A standard glass of Champagne will add about 80 calories to your body, compared with 120 calories in wine and 170 calories in an ordinary strength lager beer.
Champagne is a good source of polyphenol antioxidants, which are beneficial for heart health. These antioxidants slow down the removal of nitric acid from the bloodstream. This is a good thing, as nitric acid is needed for blood vessel dilation and to prevent low blood pressure.
Nitric acid is also well-known in the bodybuilding community as a pump inducer. By enlarging the blood vessels, it allows for a greater blood flow to the working muscle to produce the much desired pump effect. That’s why many pre-workout formulas include L-Arginine, which is a precursor to nitric acid. So, sipping on Champagne can have a similar effect to taking L-Arginine in your pre-workout formula.
Champagne, in and of itself, is not good for muscle building. However, assuming that a person is going to drink some sort of alcoholic beverage on social occasions, Champagne is a good choice for people who have the goal of building muscle. That’s because they are far more likely to drink less of it than other options and it contains far fewer calories.
Sipping on a glass or two of Champagne will allow you to avoid the negative effects that alcohol has on the body’s building processes. At the same time, it will allow you to enjoy the unmatched delights that come from popping open a bottle of bubbly.
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