Alcohol and protein are two things that most people enjoy in moderation.
But what happens when you combine them?
Does protein have any effect on the sugar content in alcohol?
The answer may surprise you.
In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between protein and alcohol, and whether or not protein can help soak up sugar in alcohol.
From the effects of alcohol on muscle growth to the impact of sugar alcohols on blood sugar levels, we’ll cover it all.
So grab a drink (or a protein bar) and let’s dive in!
Does Protein Soak Up Sugar In Alcohol?
When it comes to alcohol and sugar, the type of drink you choose can make a big difference. Distilled alcohol, such as vodka and whiskey, contain no carbohydrates or sugar, so they have little impact on blood sugar levels. However, wine and beer do contain sugar and carbohydrates, which can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes.
So, where does protein come in?
While protein itself doesn’t directly soak up sugar in alcohol, it can have an indirect effect on blood sugar levels. Eating protein-rich foods before drinking alcohol can slow down the emptying of your stomach and delay alcohol absorption. This can help prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.
Additionally, protein is the most filling macronutrient, which means it can help you feel fuller for longer. This can reduce your risk of overeating or indulging in alcohol-induced food binges later in the night.
The Effects Of Alcohol On Muscle Growth
Alcohol consumption can have negative effects on muscle growth and recovery. While many athletes know that working out under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, consuming alcohol after a workout can also cancel out any physiological gains made during exercise. Long-term alcohol use can diminish protein synthesis, leading to a decrease in muscle build-up. Even short-term alcohol use can impede muscle growth.
Alcohol increases cortisol levels, which can lead to increased tissue breakdown if elevated for long periods. It also decreases growth hormone, which negatively affects blood sugar maintenance and metabolism of muscles, bones, and the brain. Alcohol decreases luteinizing hormone, reducing testosterone production and increasing estrogen levels in males. This can have feminizing effects on males. Alcohol also creates damaging products in the body that damage cells. When alcohol is metabolized, it creates reactive oxygen species that cause damage to other cells in the body.
Moderate alcohol consumption is acceptable after a workout, but excessive consumption can slow down protein turnover and increase fat storage. This interrupts the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and fat storage increases due to insulin sensitivity. When alcohol creates resistance to insulin, blood sugar and estrogen levels rise. Exercising for weight loss and muscle growth is most beneficial with limited alcohol consumption.
Research has shown that alcohol has a major effect on muscles due to the impairment of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) by absorbing the body’s optimal nutrition. The experiment included athletes binge drinking large amounts of alcohol. The studies showed an even greater decline in MPS with a more significant amount of alcohol consumption. The research provided enough data to propose educational awareness to coaches and athletes about alcohol and muscle recovery.
In men, alcohol reduces testosterone production because it is toxic for the testicles, which corresponds to reduced anabolic signaling, muscle protein synthesis, and muscular recovery. The damage depends on the dose of alcohol consumed. A single glass of wine will do basically zero damage. Up to a few drinks a day, the damage is still small, arguably trivial. A night out of partying will affect muscle growth similarly to if you were cutting in contest prep: while you can still make gains that day, it’s much more difficult. For women, there seems to be no reduction in anabolic signaling and muscular recovery seems to be unaffected even after hefty post-workout drinking. However, there might still be an acute decrease in muscle protein synthesis after binge drinking due to a negative effect of alcohol on protein translation, but moderate long-term usage seems to be gain-friendly.
How Protein Affects Alcohol Absorption
Protein can also affect the absorption of alcohol in the body. When alcohol is consumed, it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine. However, when there is food in the stomach, alcohol absorption can be slowed down.
Protein-rich foods take longer to digest than carbohydrates or fats, which means they can help slow down the absorption of alcohol in the stomach. This can help prevent rapid spikes in blood alcohol levels and reduce the risk of getting drunk quickly.
Furthermore, protein can also help protect the liver from damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption. The liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol in the body, but when it is overwhelmed with too much alcohol, it can become damaged. Eating protein-rich foods before drinking can help protect the liver by slowing down alcohol absorption and reducing the amount of alcohol that needs to be metabolized by the liver.
The Role Of Sugar Alcohols In Alcoholic Beverages
Sugar alcohols are commonly used in food and beverage industries as an alternative sweetener to regular sugar. They are also found in some alcoholic beverages, particularly those marketed as low-carb or sugar-free. Sugar alcohols, such as erythritol, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol, have fewer calories than regular sugar and do not promote tooth decay or cause a sudden increase in blood glucose levels.
However, it is important to note that sugar alcohols are not absorbed well by the body and may even have a small laxative effect if consumed in excess. This can lead to discomfort and digestive issues for some individuals. It is also crucial to check the nutrition facts on the label of any food or beverage containing sugar alcohols. While they may contain less sugar, they could still have a significant amount of carbohydrates, calories, and fat.
In alcoholic beverages, sugar alcohols can be used as a sweetener in place of regular sugar. They do not have the same effect on blood glucose levels as regular sugar and may be a better option for individuals with diabetes or those watching their carbohydrate intake. However, it is important to consume alcoholic beverages containing sugar alcohols in moderation to avoid any potential digestive issues.
The Bottom Line: Moderation Is Key
When it comes to alcohol and sugar, moderation is key. While some types of alcohol may have little impact on blood sugar levels, others can cause spikes and crashes. Eating protein-rich foods before drinking can help slow down alcohol absorption and prevent rapid blood sugar spikes. However, it’s important to remember that alcohol itself is high in calories and can lead to overeating or poor food choices. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption can have negative effects on overall health and well-being. It’s important to enjoy alcohol in moderation and make smart choices when it comes to food and drink.