I was first alerted to this study about using beer as a sports recovery drink by the lovely Tim Crowe, and did it make me laugh! But, maybe it is not as silly as it sounds! A study recently released by a group from Griffith University in Queensland don’t think so!
So, what was the study? What did they find?
The study was quite small, including only seven male participants. A different beer was randomly allocated to the participants on four separate occasions, in quantities equal to 150% loss of body mass during exercise, which is consistent with current recommendations regarding replacement of fluid. Drinks included a low alcohol beer, low alcohol beer with added sodium, full strength beer and full strength beer with sodium. The low alcohol beer was 2.3% alcohol, the full strength was 4.8%. Each participant cycled until they had lost 0.25% of their body weight.
So, what was found? Low alcohol beer with sodium had better fluid balance and lower urine output when compared to other drinks.
These findings are actually consistent with a 1997 study that examined the effect alcohol has on restoration of fluid balance. This study found no difference in rehydration status between drinks containing 2% alcohol or less .
Now, this does not mean that I am recommending you drink beer after your workout; a standard light beer is 2.7%, with amounts only going up from there in other beverages. As the authors of the QLD study state, this provides ‘a potential compromise between a beverage with high social acceptance and one which avoids the exacerbated fluid losses observed when consuming full strength beer’.
I think I know a few people who’d put their hands up to participate in further studies!
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
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