If you're a resident member of the fitness world, you may have noticed a trend lately that has people all abuzz. While some folks have sworn by their favorite beer for ages, it's now garnered a reputation as a workout recovery drink. But why?
Cropping up all over the country are beer-related fitness activities, such as yoga, marathons, and the Beer Mile, a mile run where you drink a beer between every lap. Sound like something you can stomach? Well, while most health professionals frown upon the idea of a post-workout beer, there are many reasons why people are actually in favor of it. Beer offers some interesting and beneficial effects. Here's the breakdown:
Beer contains small amounts of electrolytes, which is the same reason people chug a Gatorade or coconut water after a workout. Electrolytes act as the communicators between cells in our bodies, and having a balance of them is essential, especially for athletes.
Carbohydrates are an essential compound and source of energy in the foods we eat. They can be broken down by the body and used for various energetic needs. One (12-ounce) can of beer contains roughly 13 grams of carbohydrates.
Beer contains helpful compounds called flavonoids and polyphenols that combat free radicals in the body and protect against disease. Red wine has been touted as the antioxidant-rich alcoholic beverage of choice, but beer also contains amounts of these helpful compounds.
Beer is rich in many B-vitamins such as vitamins B6, B12, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and more. These B vitamins comes from the brewer's yeast that creates the beer. These vitamins aid in many functions of the body, including heart and kidney health.
Minerals like silicon and magnesium, essential minerals for a well-functioning body, are also found in beer.
One thing to factor into this though is that not all beers are created equal. Some beers have higher alcohol content (known as high-gravity beers) while others may have a lower level of hops or contain other ingredients added in, which may lower or heighten the amount of antioxidants. For instance, darker beers actually tend to have less calories and less alcohol than their lighter counterparts.
Of course, the major con to treating beer as a post-workout drink is the one major proponent that is obviously a glaring red flag--the alcohol. For athletes, replenishing hydration is key, and alcohol unfortunately dehydrates the body. This is a trade-off that some may not want to make. For those who are apt to indulge in a post-workout beer anyway, moderation is key, and drinking plenty of water to supplement the effects of the alcohol is always a good choice.
The flip side to this is that beer does contain some good-for-you elements that, when enjoyed in moderation, can ultimately be very beneficial to your health. And we'll certainly drink to that.