Smoking is one of the most harmful habits possible. And the fact that cigarettes are harmful to health is an indisputable fact. Even if you are the most athletic person on Earth, nicotine and “chemistry” in regular or electronic cigarettes will certainly damage your body. But in this article, we do not want to start an old hurdy-gurdy, talking about the global consequences of smoking. The goal today will be to understand one specific issue – how much this addiction affects the processes of muscle growth and recovery.
Aside from nicotine addiction, the main danger of cigarettes to a bodybuilder comes from the effects of increased blood carbon monoxide and tar build-up in the lungs. They have a very negative impact on the effectiveness of the training process, as a result, on your ability to gain muscle mass.
Carbon Monoxide in Blood
In the process of smoking, carbon monoxide enters the lungs along with tobacco smoke. CO is carbon monoxide and is overly toxic, even poisonous. It is colorless and odorless. From the lungs, it enters the bloodstream, combining with hemoglobin molecules. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen through the tissues of the body. This means that as a result of smoking, not only oxygen, but also carbon monoxide will get into your muscles.
By itself, carbon monoxide does not cause critical damage to muscles, but it is known that it displaces (replaces) oxygen molecules. Thus, the smoker provokes oxygen starvation of the muscles, which interferes with their normal function. When muscle tissue lacks oxygen for a long time, its ability to absorb other nutrients decreases. Proteins, which are the building blocks of muscles, are no exception.
Obviously, the lower the muscle’s ability to absorb nutrients, the slower the recovery and the worse the muscle growth.
The increase in the concentration of carbon monoxide in the blood due to cigarettes, although indirectly, negatively affects the set of muscle mass.
Tar in Lungs from Smoking
In the process of smoking, in addition to carbon monoxide, tar also gets into the lungs. And with regular smoking, they are deposited there. Up to 70% of the total volume of tar formed during the combustion of a cigarette remains in the smoker’s lungs.
Than you are threatened by the accumulation of resin? First of all, by a decrease in the volume of the lungs, therefore, it is even more difficult to provide the body with oxygen. For the exercising athlete, this is fraught with increased fatigue or decreased endurance.
In addition, tar accumulates in the respiratory system and produces mucus (phlegm), making it difficult to breathe and causing coughing.
Ultimately, the deposition of tar in the lungs leads to a decrease in the overall endurance of the bodybuilder.
Perhaps you know that nicotine is an alkaloid that excites specific parts of the parasympathetic nervous system. They may have even heard that in small doses this substance stimulates the function of the central nervous system, and in large doses it inhibits it. The path from the lungs to the brain for nicotine from cigarette smoke takes only a few seconds. And this period is enough for the smoker to jump up the level of dopamine, as a result, there is a feeling of relief and pleasure. This is why nicotine addiction is considered so dangerous. The rate of formation is directly related to the breadth of habituation.
On a bodybuilder’s body, nicotine addiction has the same consequences as on an ordinary person.
Other Effects of Smoking on Bodybuilders
A number of studies suggest that smoking can cause suppression of its own testosterone production and an increase in the concentration of the stress hormone, cortisol. Testosterone (male sex hormone) is a key anabolic and androgen in our body. The consequence of its fall will be not only a decrease in sexual activity, but also a slowdown in muscle growth. And this is the very purpose of bodybuilding.
Also, tobacco smoking is associated with digestive problems, which also does not bode well for a bodybuilder. The logical chain is as follows: cigarettes impair appetite and digestion, as a result of inadequate or poorly absorbed nutrients, anabolism decreases (that is, muscle gain is slowed down). And here you can’t help business with useful products on the menu.
First, regular smoking adversely affects the functioning of the thyroid gland – it often provokes a decrease in the synthesis and level of thyroid hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
Secondly, cigarettes are a direct threat to the health of the cardiovascular system. And diseases of the heart and blood vessels are a contraindication for bodybuilding. In this case, strength training already becomes life-threatening.
Separately, we would like to draw your attention to a common misconception among jocks: some bodybuilding enthusiasts believe that smoking helps with the burning of subcutaneous fat, supposedly nicotine is necessary to maintain a low level of subcutaneous fat. Yes, in small amounts, this substance can have a stimulating effect on the CNS, probably even speed up metabolic processes (metabolism). But only in minimal doses, which are incomparable with the volume of nicotine and impurities entering the body after smoking a pack of cigarettes. In other words, any potential benefits of the smoking habit are more than outweighed by its proven disadvantages.
In terms of the ratio of beneficial and side effects, tobacco loses to any pharmacological fat burners available today. If you want to lose so much weight, then it will be more effective to use Clenbuterol, Sibutramine or Liothyronine than to start a pernicious habit in every sense.
The Bottom Line
It has been scientifically proven that smoking negatively affects overall endurance, muscle growth and recovery, and an athlete’s strength potential. Even in a mild form, nicotine addiction directly and negatively affects the effectiveness of the training process. If you want to stay productive in the gym, and most importantly, maintain good health, then in no case take a cigarette in your teeth.