In our everyday lives we all have habits or pleasures that can be damaging to our fitness aspirations. I can’t recall how many “gym rats” I’ve come across who indulge just a little too often with substances that work against them on muscle growth. I’ve tried to educate them, but it’s human nature to believe we are right even when we have evidence we are wrong. I couldn’t change their minds, but maybe I can help guide whoever reads this article to make a change with an open mind. I’ve done hours upon hours of research on these matters and crossed referenced them to make sure what I’m reporting to you is completely accurate. From all findings it’s all pretty concrete. But as I say to clients, friends, family, or customers, “All I can do is provide you information with valid studies. What you choose to do with the information is up to you.” I can sense the one-dimensional arguments coming from a mile away with this article, but let’s begin anyway

                                                 MARIJUANA

No one I have ever talked to believed me, or wanted to believe me that this substance actually works against them- similar to a bad diet or workout routine. Let me explain. Over 14 million people smoke marijuana regularly despite the fact that it’s illegal in 27 states. Marijuana has many negative side effects to health as well, but first let me point out the negative side effects it has on your body when it comes to muscle mass. Marijuana has been proven to work against you in building mass; in fact a study conducted by New York State Psychiatric Institute,  concluded that experienced smokers lost a significant amount of muscle mass. In another study marijuana has also been proven to lower your natural testosterone levels. The study suggest that it takes the body 24 hours of not smoking for your testosterone levels to return to natural levels. Testosterone increases muscle mass by increasing muscle protein synthesis. So with testosterone playing an important role in muscle development, it’s not a great idea to smoke marijuana especially on a daily basis if you’re trying to develop a muscular physique.

 

                                   Negative Side Effects of MarijuanaChronic Bronchitis. In a study conducted by The University of Arkansas shows that smoking marijuana is associated with chronic bronchitis symptoms and large airway inflammation. These results come from heavy and every day users. The medicinal use of marijuana is likely not harmful to lungs in low cumulative doses, but the dose limit needs to be defined. Recreational use is not the same as medicinal use and should be discouraged.

Schizophrenia. A study conducted by Bristol University confirmed that the use of marijuana increases schizophrenia. The higher risk of schizophrenia occurs in users under the age of 18. Earlier use increases in overall schizophrenia incidence and prevalence of 29% and 12% among men between 1990 and 2010. By 2010 model projections which assume an association between schizophrenia and light and heavy users suggest that approximately one-quarter of new schizophrenia cases could be due to cannabis, whereas if the association is twofold and confined to heavy cannabis users, then approximately 10% of schizophrenia cases may be due to cannabis.

Depression. A study by Michigan State University found that the use of marijuana at any age has an increased risk of depression in adulthood. This study took place from 2005-2009 and included 173,775 adult participants.

                                                      ALCOHOL
Now this is what I get in response from my clients when I educate them on alcohol “Ah. I still don’t think I’ll stop drinking.” So I would assume that drinking is more important than being healthy and looking good. Seems silly but unfortunately this has been the case with many people I have encountered. Sadly 51.3% of Americans drink alcohol. So why is this bad? Like marijuana, alcohol impairs protein synthesis according to a study conducted by the  Pennsylvania State College of Medicine. Why is having your protein synthesis impaired not a good thing? Protein synthesis removes and repairs damaged proteins while building new proteins that are replicas of the original. By this action the new proteins are much stronger and can handle more stress than they did before. Protein synthesis rebuilds muscle tissue from the stress we put on our body while exercising. Not only does alcohol impair protein synthesis, but in another study by the Department of Nutritional Physiology  showed that men and women who consumed 30 to 40 grams of alcohol a day decreased plasma testosterone levels in men by 6.8% but showed no effect on women. Some may argue that almost 7% decrease in testosterone levels isn’t significant. However when building muscle, this can be bigger than the number appears. I would recommend only drinking in moderation. Meaning having a drink or 2 on a non-workout day.

30 grams of alcohol a day is considered the “safe” dosage of use (however I will prove to you this is not exactly the safe mode) In each glass of wine is 14 grams. So 2 glasses would be your safe limit. The same grams are in a 12oz beer. A deeper look into these numbers are broken down like this
A standard drink is equal to 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in
* 12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
* 8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
* 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
* 1.5-ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).

As you see by these numbers of the most common alcoholic beverage consumed a day you are limited to 2. Also consider alcohol is definitely in the “empty calories” category. There are 123 calories in each glass of wine, approximately 154 calories in one beer. And 97 calories in a single shot of vodka.

                                       Negative Side Effects of Alcohol
Cirrhosis of the liver. One study shows that consuming 30 g ethanol/day has a higher risk of developing cirrhosis and NCLD. This risk only increases with daily use. So as you see according to this study, the 30 grams is not so safe after all. I told you I’d prove it to you.

Increased risk for various types of cancer. Over 200 studies have shown that alcohol strongly increased the risk of various types of cancer according to the Department of Statistics . These cancers that have been linked include oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, and larynx. Statistically significant increases in risk also existed for cancers of the stomach, colon, rectum, liver, female breast, and ovaries

Increased blood pressure and a stroke. A study conducted by The Department of Neurology found that alcohol consumption increases the risk of blood pressure and a stroke. Binge drinking is a significant risk factor for stroke. Hypertensive patients should be warned about the risks of alcohol and urged to avoid binge drinking because of an increased risk for all subtypes of stroke

                                                           Cigarettes
This one really puts me in the state of disbelief. People running, lifting weights and trying to eat better are still smoking a pack or more of cigarettes a day. Maybe it’s a vice they cannot seem to break free of, but if you ask me, if you can make the commitment to exercising more and eating better, then quitting smoking would be easier than you’d think. According to Centers of Disease Control and Preventions nearly 18 of every 100 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (17.8%) currently smoke cigarettes. This means an estimated 42.1 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes. Ages 18-24 years smoke cigarettes. This is a percentage of 18.7% (19 out of 100 adults). This increases with age. Adults from 25-44 years of age with the percentage of 20.1% (20 out of 100 adults). These are the ages of individuals who are in their prime of their life and in their prime of fitness. So other than the obvious side effects of smoking, why is it bad for trying to build muscle? Studies have shown that smoking also impairs the muscle protein synthesis process and increases the expression of genes associated with impaired muscle maintenance. Studies have also shown that smoking will also increase the risk of sarcopenia which is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality, and strength associated with aging. Smoking also increases the risk of injuries while training. The University of the Health Sciences concluded this with their study during the 8-week training period. 1,087 male and 915 female Army recruits participated in this study, concluding that 33% of men and 50% of women had at least one clinic visit for injury, including 14% of men and 25% of women who lost more than 5 days of training due to the injury. Lifting weights puts enough strain and risk of injury to your body even when doing it safely with proper form. So why increase the risk with smoking?

                                When you quit smoking do you gain weight?
There are studies that have shown weight gain after people have quit smoking, but keep in mind this is because they are trading one vice for another. This falls in the same line of thinking that people believe diet drinks and other artificial sweeteners cause weight gain because the artificial sweeteners make you crave real sugars, therefore you overeat on junk foods. So like cigarettes, the weight gained falls on lack of discipline. Nothing more. The act of quitting has nothing to do with weight gain. So if you currently smoke and want to quit but are afraid of weight gain, the answer is simple… just don’t overeat.

                                      Negative Side Effects of Smoking
Impotence. A study by Tehran University of Medical Sciences found in 118 ex-smokers and 163 current smokers; after one year of quitting, the ex-smokers improved on erectile dysfunction while the current smokers did not.

Increased Infections. Studies by Kaplan Medical Center shows an increased risk of invasive pneumococcal disease. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Disease about one million US adults get pneumococcal pneumonia each year. With 5-7% of them leading to death, and the death rate is even higher in those age 65 years and older. Influenza risk is higher and is much more severe in smokers than nonsmokers. Smoking also increases the risk of tuberculosis

                                                      In Conclusion
I hope you all found this article and the studies I provided another useful tool for your fitness goals. The decision is, of course, all yours to weigh the disadvantages of these substances and see if they are worth it or not. I would highly recommend you try and kick each habit not only because it does work against you in fitness, but, overall, it’s not healthy. I’d rather spend my money on bodybuilding supplements that help my body build muscle and increase my overall well-being. But, as I said before, the choice is yours.