Recover with beer

It sounds too good to be true, but can ale really be a training aid?

What do you need?

A hard session on the bike can leave your body depleted of crucial vitamins, electrolytes that aid hydration and carbohydrates. These are what you want your post-race or ride drink to help you replace, as well as supplying protein to help your muscles recover.

And can I get that from beer?

Well, up to a point you can. It’s not as bad a post-workout drink as you might naturally assume. Carbs are there in the form of sugar, there will be a dash of electrolytes and the plant-based nutrients used to make beer – hops, yeast, barley – will supply some of the vitamins and protein you need. But the proteins are incomplete, which makes them less than ideal, and the real killer is the alcohol content, of course. Recent studies have shown that alcohol can inhibit muscle recovery and it also has a diuretic effect, lessening the all-important hydration qualities of your post-ride drink.

Can I have one then?

A beer as a reward at the end of a hard ride probably isn’t as bad for you as you might have thought. Take it easy, though, and make sure you drink plenty of water as well, and you’re able to sup away on your favourite brew largely guilt-free. If you can face drinking alcohol-free beer – and if you need to drive home after an event or ride, that’s a good idea – you will get all the benefits of the booze with none of the unfortunate alcoholic side effects…

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