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What to Know About Drinking Beer After a Workout

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What to Know About Drinking Beer After a Workout

Is hitting the brewery after jumping rope or lifting weights going to undo all of your hard work? Wondering how a cocktail or a beer after a workout can affect your results? Thankfully, you’re not the only one who has pondered this question. 

At first thought, common sense says that alcohol and exercise don’t go together. But is that actually the case (and no, we’re not talking about a 24-pack here), and if so, what’s a good alternative to beer after working out?

To find our answer, let’s first look at what is good to consume after a workout! 

Post-Workout Recovery Drinks

From smoothies to chocolate milk to protein shakes, many athletes have a go-to post-workout drink that they swear by. While there are literally thousands of options for beverages to consume after a workout, the best ones have a few common elements. 

Workout recovery drinks should contain protein to help muscles recover, carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores, and electrolytes to rehydrate.

How does beer stack up?

Beer After Workout

Most people who have ever cut alcohol out of their diet know that beer is heavier on carbohydrates than some other drinks. A 12-ounce beer typically contains anywhere from 5-15 carbohydrates. That’s actually significantly fewer carbs than experts recommend post-exercise. On the protein front, beer might offer one or two measly grams, not nearly enough to supply your muscles with this much-needed macro-nutrient. And for electrolytes, those are practically non-existent in your run-of-the-mill brew. 

At the same time, alcohol post workout does have some concerns to be aware of. Anyone who has spent a night out knows the diuretic effects of alcohol - in other words, alcohol causes you to release more fluids in the form of urine, which can result in dehydration. 

Finally, because alcohol is a sedative, indulging in beer after working out can slow down recovery, leading to more soreness and fewer results. 

Of course, it’s all about moderation. If your workout happens to line up with happy hour one day, you likely won’t suffer too much on the fitness front. However, if a post-workout drink is your go-to, you might notice you’re not seeing the recovery that you’d like to. 

Non-Alcoholic Beer After Workout

So, an occasional post-workout beer might not be too bad. But what other options can you grab when socializing? 

Perhaps surprisingly, there are a lot of studies touting the potential benefits of drinking non-alcoholic beer after workouts. Even the official Team USA Olympic website mentions that “drinking a non-alcoholic beer can allow an athlete to get the most of workouts and be better prepared for optimal recovery,” suggesting this beverage has many of the same properties of a sports recovery drink, including carbohydrates and glycogen.

A 2012 study also found that non-alcoholic beer has anti-inflammatory properties, using a randomized group of marathon runners to test for post-race inflammation. The results showed significantly less inflammation. When doing cardio-based workouts like jump roping, drinking something to help with inflammation could be beneficial. 

So while downing Guinesses this Saint Patrick’s Day after your morning workout might cause some discomfort, it seems that cracking open a craft non-alcoholic beer could actually benefit you.

The Bottom Line

Will that 6-pack ruin your chances of a 6-pack? If you only occasionally drink alcohol after a workout, you probably don’t have too much to worry about. If you have a habit of grabbing a cold beer after every jump rope workout, then you might notice some long-term negative effects on your overall fitness. 

If you find yourself in a social situation and want to drink with friends, consider grabbing a non-alcoholic beer or other beverage that offers carbohydrates and electrolytes to help your body recover. 

And finally, don’t be afraid to mix up your post-workout meals. While recovery shakes are an easy way to get all of your post-workout nutrients, you can also just enjoy a beer with a protein-rich snack.
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