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Beer: Exercise’s Favorite Chaser?

Filed Under: Sports Nutrition at 4:20 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
A Man and His BeerThe close of a game often signals the opening of a beer. Teams – professional, college and backyard – traditionally follow competitive matches with cool glasses of malted barley and hops.  What better way could there be to celebrate a victory or mourn a loss? Nothing, after all, satisfies a well-worn athlete like a seasonal ale or traditional brew. And in the eyes of the players, it’s an earned indulgence, one they truly deserve. That claim may be a bit exaggerated, but regardless, the players should continue sipping their pints, for, according to Spanish researchers, beer may be better than water.

Scientists at Granada University recently announced the results of their beer-vs.-water study. They had, over several months, recruited 25 students to run on a treadmill in 104-degree heat. The participants exercised until near-exhaustion, at which point they were given either a pint of beer or water. Those who received beer were slightly more hydrated than those who drank only water.   It’s theorized that the bubbles, sugar and carbohydrates in the beer allowed the body to absorb the liquid more quickly, and the lower alcohol content (in comparison to liquors) kept the malted beverage from acting as a diuretic. Thus, the beer surpassed the water. But does this mean you should trade in your water bottle for a Coors?

No. Water is and always will be the best way to hydrate,  unless you have strenuously exercised for more than an hour (as the participants of the study had). In that case, you want something with a little more substance, like a sports drink.  The added sugar and electrolytes in a sports drink will restore your body’s energy, and the salt content will compensate for lost sodium. But just because beer’s not the best doesn’t mean you should ignore the findings. They do have something to offer: comfort. They’re telling you that it’s okay and somewhat beneficial to follow a taxing workout with a glass of beer, one of your most loved yet previously frowned upon habits. So, go ahead and crack open a can . . . just jog a few miles first.

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