So I’m sure by now you’ve heard the endless criticisms of alcohol as the single worst indulgence when it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass and high testosterone levels. Given the general consensus that alcohol is fattening and testosterone-squashing, it’s probably not too far-fetched to assume that it is definitely not a staple in the average gym rat’s diet.
While alcohol can seriously mess up your endocrine system, protein-synthesis and nutrient uptake, it has actually been proven to have some real health benefits when taken in small dosages.
Now let me start off by telling you that beer is not the way to go.
It saddens my soul because I love to drink a nice craft beer — I love the taste and the beer buzz and warm feeling it creates — but the truth is, beer (often made with hops) has a bunch of really potent phytoestrogens that can suppress testosterone activity in your body. In fact, if you choose to drink, you should choose a hard liquor over an IPA or a pilsner. A few hard drinks can be enough to let alcohol work its beneficial properties in your system. Red wine is also a good drink of choice, due to its potent antioxidative qualities.
What exactly are the benefits of alcohol?
Consuming a small amount of booze, post-workout and on training days, has actually been proven to boost T levels when they usually fall. Alcohol, in the right dosage, prevents free testosterone from being taken up, temporarily.
To determine the right dosage for your body, think roughly 1 g alcohol/kg your body weight. You shouldn’t be exceeding more than three drinks on your night out, as binge drinking works against testosterone production, and can severely damage your body in other ways (cirrhosis, hello). Mild alcohol consumption has been correlated to lower waist circumference and fasting insulin as well.
Like protein digestion in your body, alcohol causes thermogenesis, meaning that a significant portion of the calories from alcohol actually serve to raise your body’s core temperature. Alcohol is also generally not stored as fat, due to its constant metabolism through the liver, which tends to not convert it into lipid.
When avoiding binge drinking and heavy drinking, alcohol doesn’t even lower testosterone that much (roughly negative seven percent, if you’re drinking every night). Avoid other bad diet traps, and moderate drinking shouldn’t wreck your gains. Drinks like whiskey, scotch, vodka and tequila are great choices for your testosterone.
Tequila, generally made from fermented agave syrup, is high in fructose, but not glucose, meaning that it has a relatively low insulin response. This is good for diabetics, as blood sugar levels don’t spike after consumption. Fructose is by no means great for you, but keep it to a minimum, and it’s not worse than eating some fruit. Some studies even indicate that limited doses of fructose can prevent prostate cancer.
Pure agave tequila is what you should be looking for. Avoid throwing back shots, and tequila shouldn’t even give you a hangover. It can aid in digestion thanks to its simple sugar composition that breaks down easily. One more thing: “gold” isn’t a real tequila flavor — it’s just regular tequila mixed with caramel coloring, which you don’t need.
Something to watch out for when going out for a couple drinks is that alcohol in nearly any dose suppresses the oxidation of carbs, meaning that your drunken munchies, or drunchies, will get you in trouble in the fat-gain department. Just watch your diet consistently throughout the night, even if it might be hard, because the carbohydrates you’re ingesting are going straight to your thighs. This also means you need to shy away from the syrupy, sugary concoctions you pretend to hate. Stick to a basic drink, straight or iced. Your abs will thank you.
Even though margaritas aren’t the best choice for a post-training drink, these recipes are too good to pass up. Plus, they’re packed with testosterone-boosting fruits that compensate a little for the fact that you’re drinking a sugary cocktail.
Avocado Grapefruit Margaritas + Chili Salt
Avocado and Grapefruit are great for your T levels. Avocados contain essential B-vitamins that pack a punch, as well as a bunch of natural cholesterol. Grapefruit is super high in vitamin C, which suppresses cortisol, a testosterone-blocker.
2 frozen avocados
1 ½ cups grapefruit juice
4-6 oz. (shots) tequila, depending on how much you like tequila/how many people you’re serving
4-6 oz. (shots) triple sec or orange liqueur
2 limes, juiced
2-3 cups ice
1 Tb coarse salt
½ tsp. chili flakes
Place avocados, grapefruit juice, ice, tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust to taste. If you are rimming the glasses with chili salt, blend salt and chili flakes in small coffee bean grinder until well incorporated. Use lime or honey to rim glass then dip in the chili salt mixture!
Ginger Pomegranate Margarita
Ginger is supposedly an androgen while pomegranate boosts testosterone and lowers blood pressure.
1 1/2 oz (6 ct) KARMA tequila silver
1 oz (4ct) orange liquor or triple sec
1/2 oz (2 ct) fresh pomegranate juice
½ oz (2ct) ginger syrup
2 lime wedges
Start with 1.5 oz of KARMA tequila then add 1 oz of orange liquor or triple sec into a shaker with ice. Now squeeze in two lime wedges. Next pour .5 oz of fresh pomegranate juice and a .5 oz of homemade ginger simple syrup. To make ginger syrup, simply cook some ginger roots in a small pot of boiling water then add sugar. Traditionally, simple syrup is 2 parts sugar and 1 part water. Once you have added all your ingredients, shake, pour, then garnish with lime and pomegranate.
Fresh Blueberry Acai Margarita
Dark berries like blueberry and acai are antioxidant rich, which prevent oxidative testosterone damage. Plus, they’re low-calorie.
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 oz. lemon sour mix
7 ea. blueberries
1/2 oz. orange liqueur
3 wedge(s) orange
1 1/2 oz. silver tequila
3/4 oz. Monin açai syrup
Muddle fruit in bottom of shaker glass. Add ice and ingredients. Cap and shake vigorously, then double strain into a salt-rimmed margarita glass filled with ice, if desired.
Citations and Sources
Does Alcohol Really Lower Testosterone? (2014, October 15). Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://themanthemyth.com/alcohol-lower-testosterone/
Duquette, S. (2012, April 18). Bony to Beastly – Why You Should Drink: The Truth About Alcohol vs Muscle Growth and Fat Loss (Updated October 2013). Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://bonytobeastly.com/why-you-should-drink-alcohol-vs-muscle-growth-and-fat-loss/
Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Wolk A, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Calcium and fructose intake in relation to risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Res. 1998 Feb 1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/collections/bibliography/43748474/
Bender, A. (2013, May 3). Five Reasons Tequila Is Good For You. Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbender/2013/05/03/five-ways-tequila-is-good-for-you