M alz, hops, water and yeast – that is to brew the only ingredients that can be used to German beer. This is how the purity law of 1516 stipulates it. And these ingredients have many benefits.
Beer is often talked about as an isotonic drink, and the many minerals in beer actually offer a good all-round carefree package for athletes. But what about the alcohol? How healthy is beer really? We’ll clarify that here.
Is beer healthy?
100 milliliters of beer (pils) contain 42 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrates. The latter is particularly important for athletes. Carbohydrates provide your muscles with important energy and ensure that you can perform at your best during exercise. If you want to push your limits, there is no better fuel for your muscles.
In addition to carbohydrates, beer also contains many minerals. Sweating while exercising causes your body to lose important minerals. Beer can compensate for these losses of minerals such as calcium (4 milligrams per 100 milliliters), sodium (3 milligrams per 100 milliliters) and magnesium (10 milligrams per 100 milliliters). Sodium is extremely important during exercise as the body reacts very sensitively to deficiency, for example with cramps or dizziness. The body needs potassium (50 milligrams per 100 milliliters) to store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. Only when you have potassium in your body can your body incorporate the carbohydrates it has absorbed into muscle cells as glycogen.
Beer also contains vitamins suitable for sports, especially B6, without which the body would not be able to build proteins. It is essential for muscles and joints, but also for the immune system. A deficiency can lead to a higher susceptibility to infections, muscle weakness, anemia and arthritis. Vitamins such as B6 and folic acid are contained in beer through grain, they are not added – however, manufacturers are not allowed to advertise this property.
What does isotonic mean?
Isotonic drinks have the same ratio of nutrients to liquid as human blood, i.e. the osmotic value is the same. This allows your body to absorb and use the nutrients particularly quickly without putting too much strain on the stomach. The minerals contained in isotonic drinks, including magnesium, sodium and calcium, compensate for the losses caused by sweating, while the drink provides you with sufficient fluids at the same time. Are you looking for more drinks?
There are now many isotonic sports drinks in the supermarket that are supposed to boost your performance during sports. Because whoever does sport burns energy. Isotonic drinks provide your body with energy, minerals and fluids. For recreational athletes, however, special sports drinks are not necessary, you can just as easily grab an apple juice spritzer or (non-alcoholic) beer.
However, hypertonic drinks that contain too many minerals or carbohydrates, such as cola, reduce your performance. In order to absorb the nutrients from hypertonic beverages, the body needs to dilute them with fluid from the blood vessels. This affects the flow properties of the blood. The blood becomes thicker, its volume decreases and the performance potential decreases. Instead of using hypertonic drinks, you should prefer isotonic drinks or water.
Alcohol and sport – do they go together?
Unfortunately not, because alcohol is actually a disadvantage in sports. It makes you sluggish and slow and reduces your ability to concentrate and coordination. In addition, alcohol reduces the release of growth hormones, which are involved in muscle building processes
Most importantly, alcohol dehydrates your body. In addition to the removal of pollutants, this is mainly needed to supply the muscles with nutrients, with carbohydrates, protein, but also with magnesium. But there are other reasons why you should drink enough water while exercising.
Is Alcohol-Free Beer Better?
Alcohol-free beer is apparently the perfect sports drink. It is isotonic, with 25 calories per 100 milliliters only half as many calories as alcoholic beer, but with 5 grams of carbohydrates it contains a little more carbs. You also avoid the disadvantages of alcohol.
Researchers at Munich’s Rechts der Isar Clinic examined 277 runners and found that alcohol-free beer is beneficial to the health of athletes: If you drink 1 to 1.5 liters of alcohol-free beer every day 3 weeks before and 2 weeks after a competition, you suffer less from respiratory infections and Inflammatory reactions. The plant substances contained in beer, so-called polyphenols, are responsible for this. These support the body’s own immune system, which can mobilize fewer defenses than usual after extreme stress. They also have a positive effect on the heart, the gastrointestinal tract and the blood count.
However, a sports drink must not contain too much carbon dioxide, otherwise your body cannot absorb it quickly enough. Wheat beer contains almost as much carbonation as champagne. Pils is easier on the stomach because it contains less carbonic acid. The recommended intake of non-alcoholic liquids for endurance athletes is 0.5 to 1 liter per hour, depending on the weather and training intensity – this means: on hot summer days more than 1 liter per hour.
Conclusion: Alcohol-free beer is a top sports drink
Thanks to its carbohydrates, beer provides energy and ensures that you can last longer while exercising. The minerals contained such as magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium as well as vitamins prevent nasty muscle cramps and support the build-up of proteins. However, since alcohol has numerous negative effects on your performance, you should always choose alcohol-free beer.