Beer drinking is a post-sport pastime, and it’s even become a selling point for many all-comer races. Tough Mudder? Sign up and get a beer immediately after crossing the finish line. Ever played any co-ed sport? A stop at the bar after the game is basically required team participation. And there has been a surge in participation in hashing clubs, which describe themselves as “drinkers with a running problem” (I am well acquainted with the hash, not as a participant, but as an innocent by-standing friend. Proof: make sure you never go in new shoes!).
Common sense suggests that beer probably isn’t the best thing to drink after you work out. After all, aren’t you supposed to refuel with something healthy, like water or electrolyte-filled Gatorade? Beer contains a lot of calories… which is why it gives you a beer belly. Undisputedly not the healthiest beverage ever.
But guess what? Scientists are saying that beer is actually good for you after a workout. They’re even saying that beer helps you rehydrate better than water. Seriously: read this blog by the NY Times if you don’t believe me!
But how? Researchers at the University of Granada in Spain found that “the carbonation in beer helps to quench the thirst and that its carbohydrate content can help replace lost calories.” They said the athletes in their study who drank beer instead of water recovered better.
Another study, published by The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Metabolism, had athletes drink one of: light beer (2.3 percent alcohol content), light beer with added salt, standard beer (4.8 percent alcohol content) or standard beer with salt (the salt’s for electrolytes! I learned that lesson at Duke Soccer Camp in high school: lots of sweating + only water = muscles still sore). The light beer with salt was the clear winner. The lower alcohol content was a real benefit, as well—because that Sunday-morning hangover is mostly due to, you guessed it, dehydration.
For me, a chronic justifier and lover of craft beer, what’s the takeaway message? Work out, and then go right ahead and celebrate SF Beer Week. You earned it! Just make sure you don’t order a barleywine.
*Thanks to Gabi for the topic suggestion!