Post-Workout Beer: Is Drinking Beer After Exercise Healthy?

Beer Pub, bar

As it turns out, a post-workout beer may not be so great | Source: iStock

Everyone has their recovery routines. These regimens range from supplements to specific meals to post-workout drinks like chocolate milk, Gatorade, or a protein shake. It makes sense, because what you put in your body after an intense workout is as important as what you did during the actual workout.

The recipe for the perfect post-workout recovery meal is full of carbohydrates and protein to restore and replenish your muscles. Sounds like some of the ingredients of your favorite beer, right? The question of whether an ice cold beer would make a good recovery drink has long been debated.

According to Jim White, the owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios located in Virginia, beer isn’t an ideal carb source for recovery. “Beer only has about 14 grams of carbohydrates, so it would not be sufficient for recovery,” he told The Wall Street Journal.

According to an article in Men’s Fitness, exercise depletes a lot of important vitamins, hydrating electrolytes, and carbs. Beer’s got some of that good stuff, too: sugary carbs, a hint of electrolytes, and a few helpful plant-based nutrients that come from the hops, yeast, and barley. But alcohol doesn’t have enough of the good stuff, and the effect it has on your body is also a major disadvantage.

beer flight served on a wooden board

A beer sampler isn’t the best post-workout option  | Source: iStock

Basically, the best part of alcohol is also the part that causes a drawback in recovery. However, it might not all be bad. According to Nancy Clark, a sports nutritionist at Newton Highlands, Mass., drinking beer after a workout is OK in moderation, but you also need proper water and other carbs and protein to refuel. 

“You need to eat a balanced meal with the beer within an hour or so, to offer protein to repair the muscles and buffer the alcohol,” Clark told the Journal.

So the key is to not just head to the bar after a workout; instead, try to eat a balanced meal, and realize that you have worked hard and your muscles need sufficient nutrition in order to repair and to aid your muscle growth. Men’s Fitness agrees that while a post-workout beer isn’t enough for recovery alone, there is little harm in having a beer or two, along with your proper nutrients.

Going out and getting hammered after a run or a lift is never a good idea, but a beer or two may not hurt you as much as you thought it would. Or on the other hand, beer is not as good of a recovery drink as you may have thought. The key is moderation and rehydration. So, if you are heading to the bar post workout, remember to drink water and get other fuel for your muscles — after all, refueling is the most important part of any workout. 

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