The Science and Art of Drinking Beer After a Workout

drinking beer after a workout

It is common for people to think that it is ill-advised drinking beer after a workout.  Beer, and alcohol in general, are normally associated with a difficult morning after. And who needs that after a workout

But if you have tried it, perhaps celebrating after a personal record, or completing our first half-marathon.  For most, the positive effects are undeniable when done in moderation, but are these simply the calming effects of alcohol? 

Or do the benefits run deeper?  Could it be that beer, in moderation, actually helps the body recover?  Let’s take a closer look.

Recovery Drink Pros

Drinking beer after a workout may actually boost the immune system. A 2011 study in Germany suggested that polyphenols in non-alcoholic beer may be good for the immune system after a long exercise.

It’s great for social bonding.  It is not uncommon for running buddies to go for a beer after an easy ten. 

Low consumption of alcohol has been known to boost testosterone. Thus, it can aid in muscle growth. 

Because there are Always Cons

If you consume alcohol content, you are going to urinate more.  Thus, it compromises the body’s effort to rehydrate and recover effectively after a workout.  

Alcohol consumption after a workout can impact many of the muscle processes after exercise. That has the dual effect of removing proteins that are damaged and replacing them with new ones. 

A major benefit of exercise is for the body to control blood sugar to prevent diabetes.  Alcohol consumption could compromise the body’s ability to do that.

Remember a Beer, not a Flight

When drinking beer after a workout, there is a wide selection.  Generally, it is recommended to avoid ‘flavored’ beers as they might have additional sugars, artificial flavors, or other non-traditional ingredients that come with their own caloric side effects.

Here are some recommended options for a satisfying post-workout beer.  

A good beer option after a workout is a stout or porter.  A good creamy stout beer will generally have only around 146 calories.  Stouts and porters, although dark and flavorful, are light and fluffy to drink.  The prime example is Guinness.

Lagers.  Lagers are what most people think a beer is – light, golden, nicely carbonated.  These are easy to drink and full of water.  They are generally around 120 calories.

‘Session’ IPA.  A ‘standard’ IPA is bitter, high in alcohol and difficult for the uninitiated to drink, but they come in a ‘session’ version for those who want the IPA flavors without the high alcohol percentage.  Although meant more for the beach or golf course, a session IPA is a post-workout option as well.   

Wheat beers substitute much of the traditional barley with wheat, creating a creamy golden white beer without any of the bitter flavors many people don’t like.  Although easy to drink, especially on a hot day, wheat beers can be high in calories and do not seem to digest quickly.

To Beer or Not to Beer

There are two sayings that post-workout beer drinkers must go by: “Less is More” and “All Things in Moderation”.  It is very critical that post-workout beer drinkers limit themselves to one beer – the benefits of drinking beer after a workout diminish quickly with over-consumption. 

What your body does not want to do is work double-time trying to process too much alcohol while also trying to repair itself from the workout.  One beer seems to be the sweet spot.

While it is difficult for science to definitively say, either way, anecdotal evidence points to some positive benefits of a post-workout beer.  Although we must stop short of recommending you try for yourself, there is nothing stopping you from enjoying a cold one post-workout.