Can I Rehydrate with Beer?

Sometimes beer is the only thing you crave after a hard workout. But can it hurt your chances of recovering?

Q: Does drinking beer after exercise make it harder to rehydrate?

We knew someone was going to study this question sooner or later and recently a group of university researchers in Spain took it upon themselves to do so. They set out to see if drinking moderate amounts of beer after exercising in the heat (in their terms, “a common practice” in Western countries) would have any negative effects on rehydration. While beer does contain some of the same properties as sports drinks (carbohydrates, minerals and B vitamins), it doesn’t have much sodium. And it does have alcohol, which can blunt beer’s rehydrating capacity. Two identical trials were done with 22 physically active men who ran on treadmills and then rehydrated with either just water or water and beer. After analyzing results (published in the June 5, 2015 edition of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition), the scientists determined there was little difference between the two groups. The good news, drinking a moderate amount of beer (up to 22 oz., or a little less than two cans) after a ride or a race won’t have a negative impact on hydration. However a 2014 study found that beer could inhibit muscle recovery and it can also irritate your stomach and keep you from sleeping.

Beer can certainly replace lost fluids. But too much of a good thing...
Beer can certainly replace lost fluids. But too much of a good thing…

Lisa Lynn

Editor of VT SKI + RIDE and Vermont Sports.