If you love to drink beer as much as you love to log in the miles, then you must have wondered, at one point or the other, whether your drinking habits are affecting your running results.
The answer, as you can already tell, isn’t all black or white.
But fret not no more.
In today’s article, I’ll briefly explain what happens to your body when you drink beer post-workout and how it might impact your running performance and fitness in the grand scheme.
Let’s get started.
Beer And Overall Health
Getting drunk after a run is actually detrimental to your health, but what about a couple of cans of beer?
Let’s look at some of the research.
Research out of the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined data from health surveys in the UK and look at the impact alcohol and exercise had on the risk of death from chronic diseases.
The subjects were broken down into two groups based on their drinking habits: occasional drinkers, ex-drinkers, and non-drinkers.
At the end, the researchers concluded that those who drank occasionally were better protected against death from any cause as well as cardiovascular disease.
In other words, beer consumed in moderation can do you health good. Beer is ideal for moderate drinking thanks to its low alcohol content and larger volume compared with spirits or wine.
Research has reported that beer consumed in moderation can do your health good.
Here are some of the reasons:
- Better nutritious. Beer is more nutritious compared to other alcoholic beverages. Beer has plenty of antioxidants thanks to the flavonoids in barley and hops.
- Protect your heart. Research out of the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that moderate intake of ANY alcoholic drink is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease.
- Cholesterol friendly. Beer has a lot of soluble fiber that may help lower your LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels. Upping your intake of soluble fiber has been shown to regulate healthy blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels.
- Good for kidneys. According to this research, male and female subjects whole drank a moderate amount of beer reported a reduced risk of developing a stone by about 40 percent.
- Good for your bones. Beer also has a lot of silicon, which can help you build stronger bones. Orthosilicic acid, which is dietary silicon in the soluble form, is key for the growth and formation of bone and connective tissue.
- Chills you out. This is the main reason beer is such a loved drink. The staff helps you unwind and reduce stress levels, which can do good things both to your body and mind.
Note – I hate to sound like a broken record, but you can only reap these benefits when you keep beer consumption moderate.
Beer And Hydration
One of the most undesired effects of alcohol is dehydration. The stuff acts as a diuretic, causing you to urinate more and lose fluids.
In fact, one unit—10 grams—of alcohol stimulates the production of 100 ml of additional urine.
Of course, don’t take my word for it. Research has reported that post-workout drinks with about 4 percent alcohol may slow recovery from dehydration by forcing subjects to urinate more in the hours following the drink.
Running after consuming alcohol may make dehydration worse as you’ll be sweating out a lot, especially if you’re running long and/or hard. Dehydration can spell disaster on your running performance. I don’t need to say it again.
However, not all beers are made equal. For example, light beer, which packs in lower amounts of alcohol, is less likely to cause a drastic dehydrating effect.
What’s more? Beer has a lot of water, too—feel free to rehydrate with beer post-run.
Again, don’t take my word for it.
Research out of the Loughborough University examined the diuretic and hydration impact of light doses of alcohol and reported that the effect was insignificant as the participants’ bodies worked hard to restore fluid balance.
Another study out of the Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition assessed 16 subjects.
The participants performed an intense run in a hot laboratory. Next, they were offered either water alone or beer and water.
The end result?
Drinking beer had no clear effect on any hydration measure that the researchers used.
This led the researchers to conclude that mild to moderate beer consumption when paired with some water posed no risk on hydration.
Just keep in mind that the strong stuff—think Gin, Whiskey, and other spirits—can cause you to lose more water than they contribute.
Beer And Electrolytes
Electrolytes consist of minerals such as potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium that contain an electrical charge.
These play different key roles in the human body, such as regulating water levels, maintaining proper pH balance, and aiding in nerve transmission
That’s why sports drinks are common in the running world, as they provide these key electrolytes to help you rehydrate after running.
Unfortunately, we lose lots of electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, through sweat while logging the miles. When these reserves are low, we experience headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness, etc.
Here’s the good news.
Some beers contain essential electrolytes. In fact, some brews even fortify their products with electrolytes and minerals, which makes them a viable post-workout drink. These so-called “fitness beers” also tend to be lower in alcohol content.
The science agrees. Research has pointed that it is feasible to replace energy stores and electrolytes with a post-workout beer.
Additional resource – Can Running Help Cure Your Hangover?
Beer And Protein Synthesis
To help your muscles recover from running-induced stress, your body stimulates protein synthesis, which is a complex process that makes new proteins to repair damaged muscle fibers.
Here’s the bad news.
Research has reported that drinking alcohol after exercise may interfere with this muscle protein synthesis, reducing it up to a third, which may slow your recovery time.
Not only that, but research has also revealed that excessive alcohol limits muscle growth.
Just keep in mind that the amount of alcohol needed, according to research, is quite a bit more than people typically have.
So, again, a light beer might not be that big of an issue.
Beer Tips For Runners
If you want to make the most out of your post-run beer, stick to the following.
Avoid Binge Drinking – Drink in Moderation
Binge drinking refers to ingesting too much alcohol in a short space of time.
However, what constitutes binge drinking varies from one person to another since everybody processed alcohol differently. This makes it tricky to determine exactly how much alcohol in one sitting counts as a binge episode.
But all in all, most experts consider binge drinking as gulping more than eight units in one sitting for men and more than six units for women.
Choose Lighter Beer
When choosing a post-run peer, go for something relatively light.
In fact, make it a rule to keep it below 5 percent AVB whenever you can.
Also, the higher the ABV, the more calories. To guestimate the calorie punch in your beer, multiply the ABV by the serving size by 2.5. It’s also worth considering beer made with additional ingredients, such as fruit. More brands are using fruit purees in brewing, and this might slightly increase the nutritional value of each beverage.
Keep Track Of Your Units
Most health experts recommend drinking no more than 12-14 units of alcohol per week, with at least two days alcohol-free.
Here are a few real-life examples to consider:
- Glass of wine (13% ABV): 6 units for a 125ml glass, 2.3 for 175ml, and 3.3 for 250ml
- Pint of beer or cider (4% ABV):3 units
- Pint of strong beer or cider (5.2% ABV):3 units
- Pint of extra strong beer or cider (8% ABV):5 units
- 25ml single spirit measure (ABV 40%):1 unit
I’d also recommend that you use a free app, like Drinkaware, to help monitor your alcohol intake.
As previously discussed, occasional drinkers have the lowest risk of death from any cause and cardiovascular issues
So keep it for special occasions. Make it a rule to only drink during special events, and make sparkling water or mint tea your go-to drink.
Mix Water And Beer
As I touched upon earlier, the best way to overcome the beer’s direct effect is to pair it up with water. This not only helps you to stay well hydrated but also avoid going overboard.
As a guideline, match your beer serving with a serving of water to offset the diuretic effect.
Following your run, your muscles are primed for carbohydrates and protein. Sure, beer has both carbs and some protein, but in a very low volume, so back up your beer with some real food.
Eating real food can help you replenish your muscle fuel stores as well as slow down your drinking pace and fills you up.
Drinking a beer after running may increase your intake of carbs, some electrolytes, and water, but keep in mind that moderation is key.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime thank you for dropping by.