(and not chocolate milk)
Originally published in Get Out There Magazine
Health & Nutrition • By Dan Grant • January 27, 2017 | 1:37 PM
Confirmation bias. That’s the tendency to seek out information that supports what you want to believe.
Your search, my friend, ends here.
Let’s talk about beer and why it’s such a natural choice for runners. And let’s start by talking about the fact that beer is natural. It’s usually just water, grain, yeast and hops.
Beer is also fat free and and contains fewer calories than the same volume of, say, chocolate milk. Though beer contains less protein than the cafeteria classic, it contains more of the vitamins and minerals a runner actually needs.
Okay, but enough about chocolate milk. Unless you’re eight, you’re probably not craving it anyway.
Beer: think of it as the runner’s multivitamin. Dark ales especially (think Porter, Stout, Black IPA) contain higher levels of the vitamins and minerals runners need most.
Magnesium, for instance, plays a bit part in bolstering your endurance. Not only does it help with muscle contraction, it also enhances aerobic capacity by helping to deliver oxygen to the muscles.
Chromium, meanwhile, helps the body process the carbohydrates you’re probably consuming in greater quantity than your more sedentary friends, and if you’re a distance runner you’re losing this valuable mineral in your urine after long runs. This is where beer is the true champion because there’s still no evidence to suggest your body can effectively absorb chromium supplements. Ales are brewed with hard water and Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (aka. Brewer’s Yeast), making them a easily digestible source of chromium.
Then there’s zinc, which your body also loses through urine after a long run. A valuable helper for your body’s immune system, it works with about 100 enzymes in your body, aiding your energy metabolism.
I could go on about antioxidants, resveratrol and all the other benefits of hops, which have been used in medicines longer than they have in beer. I could share stats about dietary fiber and electrolytes. Beer is also an anti-inflammatory and promotes bone health.
I could go into much, much more detail, but I’d rather end with possibly the most compelling reason to reach for a beer after a run: it’s even more delicious than before you run.
Wine tasters, as you likely know, can swirl a Chianti around in their mouth, spit it out and record their impressions. A Bock, on the other hand, needs to be consumed to be properly evaluated. That’s because beer is carbonated. As you swallow, the carbonation carries some of it back into your olfactory system, engaging more of your sensory receptors. Win! Research shows that a brisk workout – as little as 10 minutes – heightens your olfactory system in the short term, while regular exercise prevents it from deteriorating as you age.
Just remember, despite being 85-95% water, beer still does more to dehydrate than re-hydrate, so make sure you’re getting enough of the non-alcoholic H2O as well.
And skip the chocolate milk.