Runners love a good finish-line beer – but did you know that post-run beer can actually have some tangible benefits to your overall health?
While mixing alcohol with exercise – such as when performing a beer run – can be questionable, what about drinking beer after running?
If you’ve ever been tempted by the thought of drinking beer after a run to quench your thirst, you’ve probably wondered if it’s the right thing to do.
Aren’t you just sacrificing some of those gains you’ve made by drinking a bunch of calories?
Let’s jump into what happens to your body after a post-run beer, and look at some of the positive effects of combining beer and running!
Beer and Running and Health – What You Should Know
It’s All About Moderation
Before we jump in and start rolling the kegs out, it’s important to note that alcohol is best enjoyed in moderation.
In fact, there is a host of widely-accepted health and nutritional benefits related to moderate alcohol consumption, reported in studies on healthy lifestyles.
Most scientific studies define moderate alcohol consumption as one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men.
Drinking more than this can cause a decrease in the body’s energy supplies and recovery functions, it’s been shown.
Good For Your Heart
Moderate drinking can lead to lower rates of cardiovascular disease.
Traditionally, this advice has been associated with wine – but this study shows that any type of alcohol can have this effect.
Make Beer Your Tipple of Choice
Beer has often been overlooked by health nuts due to its perception of being a boozy drink that leaves you with a beer belly.
It used to be that wine was the alcoholic drink with a health halo due to its varied lipid profile – but many of the same benefits are available from your favorite pale ale, and with less sugar content.
Likewise, some drinkers favor strong spirits due to their purer alcohol content – and feel it can help dodge hangovers. The only problem is that it’s not so easy to practice moderation when you’re drinking spirits.
Hard seltzers are gaining in popularity, but be aware that they’re often loaded with sugar.
So, why beer?
- around 90% water, good for rehydration
- Some carbs, good for re-fuelling and recovery
- A small amount of protein, good for recovery
Additionally, included in that malted barley and hops is a bunch of often-overlooked B vitamins – like folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.
Beer also has higher silicon content – which could lead to greater bone strength.
Beer Can Help a Runner’s Immune System
In 2009, Dr. Johannes Scherr led the ‘Be-MAGIC’ study (beer, marathons, genetics, inflammation and the cardiovascular system) which looked at the role of polyphenol in beer, and how it affects the immune system of marathon runners.
The study split some Munich Marathon runners into two groups; the first group was given a non-alcohol wheat beer every day, and the second group a similar drink but without the polyphenol profile found in beer.
It was found that the polyphenol profile helped reduce inflammation response – which can overwhelm the body’s immune system.
As a result, the beer-drinking group recovered faster and suffered less colds, viruses and bugs in the weeks following the marathon.
Beer After Running – Here’s How To Do It Properly
Drink Water and Beer
Beer is a diuretic, meaning it has dehydrating properties.
This is one of the primary reasons for only drinking beer after running – we all know the importance of maintaining good hydration levels as you exercise.
So a good rule of thumb is to match your beer serving with a serving of water to counteract the diuretic effects.
And kick things off with 200ml of water before cracking open your first tinnie.
Stick To Lighter Beers
In general, the higher the ABV, the more calories.
To get a rough estimate of the calories in your beer, multiply the ABV by the serving size (in ounces) by 2.5.
So when you’re looking for your post-run beer, stick to something relatively light and sessionable.
I keep it below 5% ABV when I can.
Don’t Forget To Eat Too
After any run, you should look to munch on something for recovery – your body is primed to receive carbs and protein.
And although you find both of these in beer, unfortunately, the quantities are fairly low – so supplement your beer with some food.
While that beer after running pairs excellently with burgers or pizza, it’s recommended to seek out minimally-processed, whole food snacks and meals for your recovery.
Beer After Running: The Bottom Line
Beer, unfortunately, is not a performance enhancer.
Drinking too much too often will likely have negative effects on your running performance.
But drinking a beer or two after a hard run is an awesome way to reward yourself, and has a few health benefits – so don’t feel too guilty!