Let’s talk about beer. For outdoor athletes, beer is pretty much part of the culture. Most events have a local brew on hand to celebrate big finishes like trail races on bike or foot. When it comes to celebrating the completion of an epic effort or adventure Sufferfest has built its brand around this very idea!
Alcohol and athletic performance don’t always play well together. Alcohol can slow recovery post workout and may make you feel groggy and bloated. If you are partaking in a mid-day workout while also working from home, you want to come back focused and clear headed, something that alcohol can also distract from.
The solution? Literally. There is a new game in town with non-alcoholic beer that actually tastes so good you want to drink it. Before I get into the nuances, let me just say, I just recently began enjoying really hoppy flavors.
It took me until now, in my mid-forties to discover beer that I actually like drinking. The hoppier the better! The beer people drank in college tasted like pissed-in water, had loads of empty calories, and made me feel tired and bloated. This left me wondering, “Why do people drink this?” This understanding probably got me through college safely.
After a long run or ride on a hot summer day, I begin craving the bitter brew chillin’ in my fridge. We have all heard the folklore that beer is actually good for recovery and, while one beer won’t hurt your recovery, beyond one beer, and the alcohol can begin to interfere with the recovery process.
Beer is about as hydrating as water according to research that looked into the hydration capacity of different beverages (1) but, again, drink too many and the impact of the alcohol will diminish the hydrating impact.
Beer does contain some carbohydrates which will help with absorption and retention of fluid but, most of the calories in beer are from the alcohol itself (7 calories per gram). Alcohol metabolism will take priority over carbohydrate metabolism which can impair how quickly your body replenishes glycogen reserves (stored energy in muscles) and slow down muscle recovery.
All and all there really isn’t a case for alcohol in recovery.
I subscribe to my own philosophy of eating (and drinking) with purpose. While most often the purpose is performance and nourishment. Sometimes, however, the purpose is a celebration or relaxation. In those times I reach for an IPA much to my husband’s surprise and disgust. He does not like IPA.
Today I find myself craving the hoppy carbonation after a run our a workout but, I don’t want alcohol after every run! Until recently I tried to fill this hydration craving with kombucha or sparkling water which aren’t even close. Kombucha is too sweet and sparkling water can be guzzled but not as a hops replacement.
Then I discovered a non-alcoholic (NA) beer that seemed to be made just for me! The Athletic Brewing Company makes (NA) beer that actually tastes good! The IPA is actually called Run Wild. I mean come on?! As an endurance enabler and promoter of living wildly active lifestyles, was this beer not made for me?
It is a beer that tastes like beer without the alcohol so you can drink it and reap the benefits of recovery from the carbohydrate and phytonutrients! A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (2) demonstrated that NA beer had anti-inflammatory properties that reduce risk of respiratory illness that can occur after hard efforts.
I definitely avoid mid-day and usually mid-week alcohol because it can make me feel groggy and slow me down. Now I reach for Run Wild to quench my thirst and rehydrate me so I can stay focused and ready to get after my next adventure!
Full disclosure: I love this product and brand so much that I applied to be an ambassador for the company! I only work with and promote brands whose values and products I admire and use myself. So I am proud to say I am an Athletic Brewing Company ambassador and, as a registered dietitian nutritionist, give it my seal of approval for postive hydration!
If you are interested in giving it a try, use this code for twenty percent off your first purchase from The Athletic Brewing Company online store: Code TARA20
Now this isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy a good class of wine, mixed drink, or Deschutes Fresh-Squeezed from time to time. If you are wondering how to enjoy these libations check out my fellow dietitian’s Instragram Video for some really solid tips!
- Ronald J Maughan, Phillip Watson, Philip AA Cordery, Neil P Walsh, Samuel J Oliver, Alberto Dolci, Nidia Rodriguez-Sanchez, and Stuart DR Galloway Am J Clin Nutr 103: 717-723, 2016
2. Scherr, J., Nieman, D.C., Schuster, T., Habermann, J., Rank, M., Braun, S., . . . Halle, M. (2012). Nonalcoholic beer reduces inflammation and incidence of respiratory tract illness. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 44(1), 18–26.