When I realized I had quit alcohol by mistake, there was a point when I did consider picking up alcohol again. But there was one small detail that made me hesitate: I felt fucking phenomenal. For one, I had lost 8 kg of weight. I’m not a big guy, so that meant 10% of my body had vanished. You can measure body composition at my gym with a precise €12000 InBody 570 body scanner, so I also know that I went from 12% body fat to 6.5%. After that, my weight started climbing again, but my body fat percentage stayed at around 6-7%. The weight increase instead brought an increase in strength. I went from doing 60 pushups to 80 and then 100. I’m now 44 years old and have never been this strong, not even when I was a 20-year-old competitive athlete.
Until that point, I had changed only one thing – my drinking habit – and I was not a heavy drinker. According to my doctor-friends, a change like this is likely to be the effect of a significant testosterone increase, and it’s a well-known fact that alcohol affects testosterone levels negatively. I didn’t have a super recent baseline measurement of my testosterone levels, but I did have a 5-year-old one, and when we retested my hormone levels, it showed a doubling of testosterone. Perhaps this won’t pass the highest bar of scientific rigor, but in the context of these amazing physical improvements, a doubling of testosterone sounds about right. The impact of alcohol varies between individuals, but it seems it was quite a potent poison for me.
These were not the only results. I have a background in basketball and wakeboarding, and my knees have been letting me know that for the past ten years or so. They have been making weird crackling noises when bending and have hurt quite a bit from time to time. All that disappeared after two months of zero alcohol and hasn't returned since. At the time of this writing, it has been a full year since I had any pain or crackling in my knees.
My gut has also been absolutely loving life lately. Not so strange, I thought, given that the gut microbiome is just that – a microbiome – meaning bacteria live there – meaning you shouldn’t pour antibacterial fluid on them. What is alcohol? Antibacterial fluid. I mentioned this to a doctor friend who pointed out that alcohol needs to be above 70% to kill germs, so this analysis is probably wrong, but still. Perfect gut for a year. No alcohol for a year. Could be a coincidence.