Beer Ingredients Found Similar to Sports Drinks

Beer Just Got Served Post Workout!

 Whether performing track sprints or mowing the south-40, outdoor workouts in the heat are grueling and most of us crave a nice, cold beer to quench our thirst. 

Whether alcohol and a healthy lifestyle can go hand in hand has always been a controversial subject, and this recent beer study has definitely raised a few eyebrows. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition indicated moderate beer intake had “no deleterious effects on markers of hydration in active individuals.” Another study by the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolismwherein beer was mixed with sodium, reported a significantly improved fluid balance after exercise.  Has science gone mad, or could beer really be the new sports drink?  Before getting ready to buy barley soda by the caseload, let’s see what the heck is going on. 

What is Beer

Beer for Rehydration
Beer has Similiar Nutrients to a Sports Recovery Drink. skynesher/Getty Images

 The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition set out to prove that moderate beer intake could help to hydrate after exercise and return the body to normal water and electrolyte balance.  Beer just so happens to be a naturally fermented beverage that's mostly water, but it also contains nutrients and Vitamin B.  The only difference between beer and your favorite sports drink is the alcohol content and lack of sodium.   Sounds good so far, but let’s keep breaking this down.

Study Stats

Beer Can Rehydrate the Body After Exercise. Cultura RM/Corey Jenkins/Getty Images

 A randomized study of 22 physically active men was conducted in Spain in order to compare beer intake with water vs. water alone in a laboratory setting that was simulated to a heated outdoor environment.  The participants were required to meet a criteria of good health, physically active at least 4 times per week, and a moderate alcohol intake as part of their nutrition. The men ran on a treadmill for one hour in hot conditions and afterwards split into groups where some drank either 660 ml of standard beer (4.5 % alcohol) followed with mineral water while the others drank only mineral water.  The exercise trial was conducted twice, three weeks apart and accurate clinical records maintained during the study.  

Research Results

Beer and Alcohol in Moderation for Optimal Fitness. Jack Andersen/Getty Images

 The trial results did indicate beer (up to 660ml) not to have negative health effects on the body as part of the rehydration strategy.  Prior studies have shown conflicting feedback but research protocol differed with hard alcohol solution being used vs. beer. The International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism indicated a light beer (2.3% alcohol) with sodium achieved the best rehydration results post exercise.  The positive findings for moderate alcohol consumption and rehydration after exercise still remain unclear and future studies need to be conducted for more conclusive evidence.  Even though moderate alcohol consumption appears to have some health benefit, it is concluded “high alcohol intake should not be recommended as the physiological and health consequences could be dangerous.”



Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Effects of a moderate intake of beer on markers of hydration after exercise in the heat: a crossover study, David Jiménez-Pavón et al., 6/6/15

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement., Sawka MN et al., 2/07

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Contribution to the intake of macro and micro nutrients exerted by moderate beer consumption, Romeo J et al., 2/06

Journal of Applied Physiology, Restoration of fluid balance after exercise-induced dehydration: effects of alcohol consumption, Susan M. Shirreffs et al., 10/97

International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, Beer as a sports drink? Manipulating beer's ingredients to replace lost fluid., Desbrow B et al., 12/13

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