Craving a cold, foamy beer after your workout? Recovery beer is officially a thing, and we kinda get it. Feels a little like you earned it. Am I right?
But could cracking open a cold one post-workout be beneficial? Let’s dive in.
Beer isn’t a perfect recovery drink, but *one* post-workout pint might be kinda good for you.
Your health perks will depend on the type of workout you just finished. Super sweaty HIIT sesh or a run? Beer me. Fifteen minutes of pumping iron or stretching? Pass.
One major note: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a doc who actually recommends recovery beer. The research on beer’s post-workout perks is slim.
1. Carb restoration
When you exercise, your body uses carbohydrates — specifically glucose and glycogen — as muscle fuel. The harder you push, the more carbs you burn.
But no matter how much linguine you inhale, your body can only store so much. During long, challenging workouts — we’re talking more than 60 minutes — your body burns through its glycogen stores. If you don’t replenish them, you’ll hit a wall.
Enter carbolicious beer. An average beer contains wheat, hops, grains, and yeast — roughly 10 to 15 carbs. A light-bodied wheat beer or session India pale ale (IPA) would certainly restore some lost carbs and calories.
2. Electrolyte boost
A sweaty workout = losing electrolytes and minerals like sodium, magnesium, potassium, and even calcium. And when your electrolytes get too low, you could experience muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness, and more.
Beer naturally contains some electrolytes. And now, some manufacturers are upgrading their beers with minerals to aid your workout recovery. These “fitness beers” are also typically lower in alcohol content.
One small study suggested that it is possible to replenish energy stores and electrolytes with a post-workout beer. Just keep in mind that the research on drinking beer as a workout recovery is still super limited.
Let’s just throw it out there: Drinking beer in any capacity should be done in moderation. Of course the occasional overindulgence has been known to occur (no judgement here), but regular consumption can lead to addiction.
And as much as we really (really) want to say drinking beer after a workout is the healthiest choice, we just can’t.
1. Slow recovery time
A 2012 research review showed that after a workout, your body undergoes a process called myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS). Basically, MPS = repairing muscle damage and building new muscle tissue.
One study indicated that consuming a lot of alcohol — like, 10 drinks — slows MPS. This is important for obvious health reasons, but also because you worked too damn hard to just drink away your #gainz.
One study found that a single alcoholic drink has no major effect on muscle recovery.
So just go slow, folks. Be good to your body and let it heal up before party time.
What’s the main thing your body needs after a workout? Hydration. Like, massive fluid intake, please.
People often associate alcohol consumption with dehydration. That’s because it’s a diuretic, which just means that it makes you pee. The more you drink, the less fluid you retain.
If you’re dehydrated from a sweaty workout, drinking beer could make things worse. You’re better off chugging something alcohol-free to aid in rehydration.
Interestingly enough, one 2009 study suggested that folks who drink alcohol on the reg tend to exercise more than those who abstain.
So, go ahead and enjoy that beer, but also stock up on these solid choices for refueling and repairing your bod after a workout.
- Chocolate milk: Loaded with carbs, proteins, and electrolytes, chocolate milk is one of the best post-workout options. It hydrates and helps with muscle recovery. Bonus: It might be the tastiest option on the list.
- Protein shakes: These are packed with all the things your body needs after a sweaty workout. The options are pretty much endless when it comes to protein shakes. If you’re making them at home, throw in fruit, protein powder, nut butters, milk, ice, coconut oil, and more! If you’re going for the store-bought versions, watch out for additives like sugars and preservatives.
- Orange juice: Not just for breakfast, OJ is full of nutrients and electrolytes. You’ll also get the added benefits of vitamin C. It also contains carbs to get you going. If OJ is your jam, mix it with protein powder so you can get your carbs and protein.
- Coconut water: High mineral content (hello, magnesium and potassium!) makes coconut water an electrolyte powerhouse. It’s also lower in sodium than other sports drinks. If you’re doing high intensity workouts, add in some protein powder to make sure you’re getting your macros too.
Cracking open a beer after your workout might be delicious, but the health benefits are nominal.
If you enjoy meeting friends for beer after the gym, go for it (but sip some H20 first!). If you’re looking for a perfect post-workout recovery drink, there are better options.