There's an undeniable connection between getting a great sweat and knocking back beers. Research shows that not only are athletes more likely to imbibe, but the harder we work, the more we drink. Carbs and calories aside, there are actually a lot of reasons for athletes to down a post-sweat pint or two. From reducing muscle soreness, replacing lost fluids, and maybe even preventing kidney stones, here are eight reasons you deserve, nay, need another beer.
Beer Doesn't Dehydrate You
In moderation, of course. Science hasn't quite given us the data we need to consider beer a recovery drink, but it won't add to your post-sweat hydration woes. A 2015 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that when 16 male athletes consumed either mineral water alone or beer plus mineral water after a sweaty workout, there were no remarkable differences between their levels of hydration. And, a 2015 study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that light beer with added sodium actually helped with fluid retention post workout.
Alcohol Can Reduce Perceived Muscle Soreness
Beer really does make everything better, even that ache in your hamstrings. A 2014 study in the International Journal of Kinesiology and Sport Science found that athletes reported feeling less sore when they drank beer versus a placebo after a hard session.
It Can Prevent Kidney Stones
Over time, frequent dehydration can lead to kidney stones. But beer could help keep your kidneys in the clear. A 2013 study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that most sugary drinks, like sodas and juices, upped a person's kidney stone risk. But regular beer intake decreased a person's risk by 41 percent, while wine decreased it by only 31–33 percent.
Beer Builds Strong Bones
A 2007 study published in Nutritional Health and Aging found that dietary silicon was crucial for bone and skeletal tissue strength. Guess what one of the best sources of silicon is? Beer. The amount of silicon occurring in a pint varies significantly from beer to beer, though IPAs are a good bet for their pale malts and abundant hops — the richest sources of silicon. However, a paper published in the journal Food and Science in Agriculture concluded that drinking about three bottles of any beer would satisfy your daily requirement.
Score another one for hop heads: Besides making beer taste amazing, a 2009 study in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that hops could reduce acute inflammation in study subjects. And a 2006 study in Planta Medica found that hops could work similarly to traditional over-the-counter COX-2 inhibitors, a type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
It Boosts Team Bonding
A study published in Psychological Science found that moderate doses of alcohol made bonding with a social group easier. It also increased how often members of the group smiled. Our social networks are important — especially when it comes to working out. A few fit friends can save you from hitting snooze on a cold morning or from giving up on those tough intervals.
Your Heart Appreciates a Drink
The key here is moderation. Drinking in excess is linked to a higher risk for heart disease, but according to the American Heart Association, a single drink a day could raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels and could reduce blood-clot formation, a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. The AHA recommends one to two drinks daily for men and only one a day for women.
It's Good For Your Gut
Beer gets a bad rap for what it does to your belly. And sure, if you drink a lot of it you're going to pack on a few pounds. But it can also be good for your digestive system. Moderate alcohol consumption seems to combat the bacteria often responsible for stomach ulcers, Helicobacter pylori, as reported in a study from The American Journal of Gastroenterology. Furthermore, beer is a good source of arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides, the prebiotic foodstuffs that your good gut bacteria feast on.