Take a Break from Alcohol?

The more serious I get about my weightlifting, the more I realize that alcohol isn’t doing me any favors.

I don’t drink that much anymore – maybe once or twice a week, and even then it’s usually two or three glasses of wine or a couple of beers. But the next day I still feel a little “off” when I work out, compared to if I didn’t drink at all the night before.

Anybody else take a break from drinking ANY alcohol for, let’s say, a month or two? Did it improve your strength or stamina, if only a little bit?

I’m 57, a hard gainer, and need all the help I can get to push things to my max. If a break from alcohol will give me any benefits whatsoever, I’m gonna do it.


I was drinking 4-5 nights a week when I started training. As my desire for productive training grew, my desire for drinking alcohol declined astronomically. I rarely ever drink these days, and haven’t yet this year.

There just isn’t room for it in my life anymore, and any small positives are outweighed massively by all the negatives. A couple of beers once or twice a week aren’t gonna be harming you too much but you’ve already said it makes you feel “off” compared to when you don’t drink. Ask yourself whether feeling “off” is a worthy sacrifice for the enjoyment of those beers. I tried to justify it for a while but came to the conclusion it wasn’t, so stopped.


When you say “all the negatives” – what are they, specifically?

For me, it’s just a general feeling of sluggishness. I also find it’s harder to stay hydrated.

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Low mood
Poor sleep
Less productive training
Less productive day
Less creativity
More irritability
Worse skin
Worse cravings for poor food choices
Wouldn’t enjoy that evening until I have that first beer I know is coming
Decreased motivation to do small tasks

That’s just after a couple. All of these are scalable dependant on how much was actually drank.

I’m not totally against alcohol (even if all the science says I should be), I just feel that it takes more than it gives.


Yeah, I never thought of that one. I’m going to a basketball game tomorrow night and was looking forward to having a beer or two as soon as I get there.

After seeing your excellent list, though, I’m starting the whole no-drinking-at-all phase right now.

We’ll see how it goes. If it leads to any increased strength, or any Improved sleep, it’ll completely be worth it. (Hoping for the increased creativity too, since I make my living as a media producer.)


The biggest thing for me is timing. If I drink in the evening I sleep like shit and just feel tired the next day. So I don’t drink the evening before a gym day.

Otherwise, it doesn’t seem to hinder me too much.

Andrew Huberman has a podcast on alcohol that is enlightening. It’s long, but the TLDR is that alcohol is poison - your body breaks it down into acetylaldehyde and then acetate. Acetylaldehyde is poison that goes through your liver, killing liver cells that are exposed to it. If your liver can’t keep up, parts of your brain shut down and you begin to feel “tipsy.” The tipsy feeling is a side effect of being poisoned.

Clear disclosure - I’m in recovery so may be biased. I don’t demonize alcohol but recognizing it as poison helps me abstain.

In recovery I read a book called The Freedom Model that suggests people make decisions based on their perception of what is going to provide them with the greatest amount of happiness. Obvs, alcohol provides that short term. To balance that with long term goals requires being mindful and “playing the tape forward.” If I have a few beers, will I get more joy than if I abstain and hit a PR tomorrow?

What if you took a break? What would you lose? They’re not going to stop making it.


When in college a weekend binge was not uncommon, but once I was back home my drinking was mostly social and didn’t amount to ever getting “drunk.”

As I was competing and trying to get more serious, I abandoned drinking with the exception of nursing a beer all night while clubbing on the weekends. Once I did that I starting making remarkably better progress and success competitively. Full disclosure: I also made other significant adjustments. I believe that all of the adjustments contributed to my increased success. Plus, I was stressing my liver enough with AAS. And the choice of which to give up was extremely easy.

My bottom line: Do the shot gun approach. Touch all the bases to improve your chance of success. Might alcohol hinder progress: I don’t know, but why take the chance. I sure didn’t need it. I mean the first 17 years of my life I didn’t need it. Why now?

Now, I believe you decide how you prioritize alcohol consumption. It is solely your choice. I firmly support your decision. The same goes for tobacco consumption.


My man… happiness itself is a contrast like light and shadow. Can’t have the joy of that first beer without the depths of hungover despair or the grueling pain of abstinence!

In all seriousness, it’s one of those things (like tobacco) that I often wish just didn’t exist. It’s much easier to enjoy yourself if you aren’t missing something and you can’t miss what you never had.


Yep. I STILL battle cigarette cravings sometimes … and it’s been 17 years since I quit smoking. (Come to think of it … those cravings usually come in conjunction with alcohol – so there’s another reason to stay off the booze.)

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I don’t drink anymore. My sons suffer from mental illness, and they look to me as a role model. This doesn’t mean they won’t drink but at least if I don’t drink, at least I’ve done my part as a role model.

I have some old friends visiting in the next few months that like to drink. I wonder how they’ll take me not drinking?


I have been doing Dry January and Sober October for a number of years. Going a month without alcohol is an awesome feeling. The first time I tried, it took a couple of weeks for the cravings for a drink to subside. After 2 weeks the improved sleep and mood is a health Gamechanger. I am 46 yo. This past January was the first time my wife did Dry January with me. Now she is a believer. Give it try!


I used to lift mid morning/early afternoon and alcohol never really affected me much. I know it provided extra empty calories to burn which I viewed as fuel. I never was in to bodybuilding and chasing incredibly low fat percents though. Just strength training for its own sake and I managed to look good at the pool.

I partied pretty hard in general for most of my twenties, late nights, alcohol and other stuff, later in my early thirties bought a Harley and somewhat got in to that crowd. But as long as I ate decently and didn’t skip gym days, I could always grow and maintain.

I became a father to a daughter a little over 4 years ago and it was like a switch I didn’t know I had flipped. If I do drink now it’s at an event or some kind of shower (wedding/baby whatever) and pretty moderate.

I can’t say I have seen extreme growth or leanness with the change. But it could be that I’m decades apart from my younger self, and maybe in an “all things the same” scenario I would’ve.

In any case, unless you’re counting every single calorie and step, have metabolism or hormone problems, I doubt alcohol is killing you. Just add a few sets to your lifts and use it instead.

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Here it is three months later, and my break from alcohol went pretty damn splendidly. Your list inspired me to keep going – it actually got easier, not harder, each week.

There’s something surreal about going out with friends who are all drinking, while you’re abstaining – I did this multiple times the past few months, and it always made for a good evening’s entertainment. (Absolutely no judgment here of my friends’ behavior … it was downright fascinating to watch, though.)

The best payoff was when a few people said, “Dude, you’re looking buff.” The break from drinking worked wonders in the gym, just like I hoped it would.

Last week I went to a swanky restaurant and had a couple of glasses of wine while we celebrated my friend’s jiu jitsu tournament win (more inspiration there, yeah). As anticipated, it took very little wine for me to get a buzz going pretty quickly – what was surprising, though, was that my desire for the wine had decreased so much from a few months ago. It was a true “I’m enjoying this, but I can take it or leave it” feeling. Haven’t had a drink since, and have no idea when I will again.

Thanks a lot for your wise words. It helped tremendously.


Oh wow, that’s awesome. Congrats! Life really is easier all around with less alcohol in your life. It’s great you got to the point where you can have a couple and then leave it if the situation calls for it, that’s what most struggle with - it’s very easy to get caught up in old habits. I felt the same as you over time though…it was easier to abstain the longer it went on. My brain feels like it has been rewired to think of the negatives first instead of the rose-tinted memories.

Interesting about what you say about going out with people who are still drinking. I thought that it would make me feel uncomfortable but if anything it made them feel uncomfortable. “Come on, have just the one”, “Why aren’t you drinking”. There was a quote somewhere about it being the only drug you get criticized not for taking.

But yeah, keep it up man. I’m super glad to have had a bit of influence on you as I know how much it can improve anyone’s life. Onwards and upwards!