This month’s AISTS Sport Medicine Podcast talks about beer as a recovery drink. Does having a beer after a workout affect recovery? Is beer different to other kinds of alcohol? Let’s hear what science has to say about it.

Going for a beer after team practice or a sports game is a common practice for athletes at all levels. However, there is a lot of speculation as to whether having a beer is good or bad for recovery. Beer is known to have nutrients that may help regain what the body lost during exercise, but it also has alcohol which is known to be dehydrating and potentially have an effect on performance. So is it a bad or a good idea? Melissa Drake and Santiago Peña, Class of 2018, discuss what science says about beer as a recovery drink and if there is a “right way” to drink it after exercise. Listen before heading out for drinks after your next game.

Melissa: Hello everyone! My name is Melissa Drake.

Santi: And my name is Santiago Peña.

Melissa: Welcome to our podcast where we ask the question “Is having a beer after exercise a good recovery method?”.

Santi: Being the active people that we are, we decided to look at what kind of recoveries are good for you and whether one of our favourite beverages, beer, could be on the list.

Melissa: So how can we know how beer actually affects our bodies when we go out with friends after exercising?

Santi: First, we need to ask the question, is alcohol good for you?

Melissa: And is it?

Santi: Well, there are a few different processes within the body that affect your recovery. The first being MPS which is also known as myofibrillar protein synthesis. This is when your body converts protein into muscle.

Melissa: So how does alcohol affect this?

Santi: Alcohol consumption reduces rates of MPS when combining it with exercise, even when co-ingested with protein. Alcohol ingestion suppresses the anabolic response in skeletal muscle, which can impair recovery and adaptation to training and/or performance.

Melissa: Okay so it negatively affects protein synthesis. But what about glycogen storage? We know that is a readily available source for energy if your blood glucose levels decrease but isn’t that mainly stored in the liver?

Santi: That’s a good point but glycogen is also stored in muscles. Currently, there is no alcohol directly inhibits glycogen storage in mixed human muscle.

Melissa: But it can have an indirect effect right? Because alcohol doesn’t provide a substrate for glycogen formation per se, alcohol can have an indirect effect on post exercise glycogen resynthesis if it displaces the consumption of adequate amounts of carbohydrates.
clear evidence though that says

Santi: Yes that’s right. Lastly, we need to look at how alcohol affects muscular performance.

Melissa: Well, when you consume a moderate amount of alcohol after exercise, it can magnify the loss of force associated with strenuous eccentric exercise.

Santi: This weakness appears to be from the interaction between muscle damage and alcohol, rather than the systemic effects of acute alcohol consumption.

Melissa: So overall, alcohol is not good for your body, especially after exercise. But what about beer?

Santi: That’s a great question. The potential benefits from beer come specifically from the planted-derived compounds. These are called phenols. These phenol rich products have been shown to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of sickness in people.

Melissa: Did you know, in 2011 the University of Munich investigated the effects of beer on athletes. It was focused on people whose intense physical activity can compromise their immune activity. They had marathon runners drink 1.5 liters of nonalcoholic beer a day and studied the effects. They found that the athletes risk of upper respiratory infection was reduced and the activity of white blood cells, which are a good indicator of inflammation, was lowered by 20 percent. This showed that nonalcoholic beer, nonalcoholic being key, can be good for your recovery.

Santi: Wow, that’s pretty cool. So beer has a lot of the nutrients needed for recovery. But what about protein? I heard that beer only has around 1.6 grams per can. That’s not a lot.

Melissa: Well that’s true but companies are starting to produce sport beers where they increase the protein content so that the athletes are getting the right amount for recovery.

Santi: So this along with the vitamins and other micronutrients make for a good recovery drink. It’s good to know that there are alternatives for recovery other then your standard Gatorade or Powerade. It is still important to drink a lot of water though to keep from being dehydrated.

Melissa: But is beer really dehydrating?

Santi: Well, beer itself isn’t but when you are drinking it, you forget to drink water. This is what dehydrates you. As long as you drink water, you will be fine.

Melissa: You want to know another positive aspect of beer?

Santi: Absolutely! What’s that?

Melissa: The social component. A lot of the time when you play a sport, you want to hang out with your team after.

Santi: Yeah, we always go for a beer. It’s good to know that we can have fun and recover properly at the same time.

Melissa: So next time we go for a run, we should grab a beer and a water after!

Santi: Well Melissa that sounds like a plan! But we have to make sure it’s non-alcoholic! And as you say, you’re right, we have to drink water with the beer consumption otherwise it’s not gonna be the best recovery drink that you can take after exercising. Thank you so much for this space. We’re glad to share all this information about beer.
Melissa: Have a good day!

You can find more AISTS Sport Medicine podcast on our Soundcloud channel or on the Apple Podcast app. To learn more about the AISTS Master of Advanced Studies in Sport Administration and Technology, visit

Photo Unsplash

Experience the world of sport in the Olympic Capital

Participants attend several full-day workshops throughout the programme to experience sport. These sessions are delivered by the sport organisations and federations themselves and provide a unique hands-on experience and well as an ideal opportunity to connect to our alumni and experts working in the industry.