There are a few partnerships that are just utter classics: peanut butter and jelly (duh), Romeo and Juliet, macaroni and cheese, popcorn and the movies. But the best of the best? A solid run accompanied by a post-sweat beer. There’s something super special about the taste of a crisp brew shortly after a few good miles. Plus, it’s such a great way to have even more fun with your running buddies.
But real talk: Is this OK? We check in with the experts to find out what happens to the body when you go can-for-can with your running buddies.
THE CASE FOR
There are few things that are essential for the body after a hard effort: Hydration, electrolytes, protein and carbohydrates, for starters — according to Lori Zanini, RD, creator of For The Love of Diabetes. “These all help to repair and rebuild tissue and replenish glycogen stores,” she adds.
A lot of beers are approximately 90% water (hydration, check) with an ABV (alcohol by volume) content between 4.7–5.0, according to Alcohol.org. In one standard 12-ounce serving, there’s typically a small amount of protein, and it’s pretty standard for about 1/3 of the calories in any beer to stem from carbohydrates.
“You’ll typically see a carb content of between 1 and 20 grams per serving,” says Zanini. “Beer also contains B-complex vitamins and trace amounts of calcium, potassium and other minerals.”
As for the science, well, research shows social alcohol consumption can have a positive effect on bone mineral density. It also shows moderate drinking was associated with a slower decrease in good cholesterol over time. Important caveat: Heavy drinking wrecks this benefit.
THE CASE AGAINST
While beers on beers may help you forget about the whole “I’m too sore to function,” situation, they also have the potential to hinder muscle recovery. According to one 2014 study, alcohol consumption reduces rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis (or, the process that contributes to muscle’s rebuilding post-sweat) following a bout of exercise — even when ingested with protein.
Zanini warns that alcohol is also a diuretic, which means there is potential for water loss rather than rehydration. This is where the most important word comes into play again: “Moderation.”
“Consume it with a good meal, and you should be fine,” says Zanini. “Aim for about 3–5 ounces of a lean protein with veggies and whole grains.” Another pro tip? Make sure to consume it with a glass of water. Other things to keep in mind: The lower the alcohol content in beer, the better. When in doubt, remember there are also loads of tasty light beers as well as non-alcoholic, very-real tasting options on the market, including craft picks from Athletic Brewing.