Beer: Friend or Foe?


This has been an question that has intrigued me for ages. How good is beer to us when it is related to training?

Many health experts would tell you that beer is detrimental to you as it is excessive calories and the fact that you can drink alot of it, you are taking in even more calories. And we all know from personal experience that beer has a dehydrating effect when consumed over moderating levels.

So what is fact and what is fiction?

This is what research has to say:

1. Shirreffs and Maughan (1997) found that alcholoic beverages containing 4% alcohol slows down the rehydration process after exercise. This means that regular beers delay water replenishment after losing water during training.

2. You get more dehydrated with beer consumption when your hydration levels are high to start with (Hobson & Maughan, 2010). If you are already dehydrated, you do not lose as much water drinking beer. (I personally like this one because it's like "duh". If you do not have water to lose, how are you going to lose more water?)

3. Bamworth (2005) pointed out that beer generally has a significant level of soluble fibre and pre-biotics partly due to the process of fermentation while making beer. This supports the nutritional benefits of beer.

4. A review of the potential benefits of beer include the prevention of cancer based on its mark-up from malt, hop, yeast and water (Gerhäuser, 2005). However, the percentages of each ingredient produce different benefits due to the resulting structure of the beer when brewed. (to me, this is abit too chemically intense when I read the article, so just know that beer has potential to reduce cancer risk.)

So what does all this mean? and what should you do?

  1. Although beer dehydrates you, it is only in large amounts of consumption which we all know by experience. So having a pint would not make you a thirsty camel.
  2. Drinking a lighter beer (lower than 4% alcohol level) allows for rehydration after exercise but regular beers would delay the rehydration process.
  3. Drink in moderation which would then reduce the effect of alcohol on cancer-causing agents as well as reduce potential liver damage.
  4. Similar to wine, they have a good nutritional value when consumed in moderation. So if taken in the right amounts, you are getting your daily essential dose of fibre and minerals!

So the keyword here is moderation. If you keep to the right levels of consumption, it can be your friend. But abuse that relationship and it will turn into your foe.

Cheers, Stay Strong and Keep Moving,

The Training Geek.