Beer as a sport’s drink? There is more science and evidence behind the consumption of non-alcoholic beer to aid in recovery than there is for Gatorade or other “sports” drinks. Performance drinks like Gatorade are not that popular in Germany and non-alcoholic beer can be found in vending machines at sports clubs there. Germany’s love for beer was well publicized around the 2018 Winter Olympic games with Germany brewer, Krombacher outfitting them with over 3,500 liters of the non-alcoholic beer and an additional 11,000 liters of their alcoholic version.
Why beer though? Based upon a double blind study conducted by Johannes Scherr, (financed by a brewing company), in which he gave runners in the 2009 Munich Marathon nonalcoholic beer every day for three weeks before and two weeks after the race. These runners suffered significantly less inflammation and fewer upper respiratory infections after the race than runners who had been given a placebo.
This study was conducted by Scherr to determine if there were in fact health benefits to beer, specifically non-alcoholic beer. “After that, we really had the proof: It’s really healthy and not only a marketing gag,” said Holger Eichele, the chief executive of the German Brewers Association. From 2011 to 2016, German consumption of nonalcoholic beer grew 43 percent even as overall beer consumption declined, according to Euromonitor International. Brewers developed new techniques to improve the flavor and offer more varieties of non-alcoholic beers. In response there’s now more than 400 nonalcoholic beers on the market in Germany. Iran is the only nation that consumes more non-alcoholic beer. As German alpine skier Linus Strasser says, “It tastes good, and it’s good for the body,” adding, “It’s isotonic. That’s why it’s good for us sports guys.”
An isotonic solution is a solution that has the same salt concentration as cells and blood. Think of an IV bag that you drink and tastes like beer because…it is beer. Further evidence needed?
Chilean doctors did another study on non-alcoholic beer in 2016. This study took seven professional soccer players of similar age and experience and put them through a double blind study. This study was not funded by any third parties like the German study, most notably, not funded by a brewer.
Conclusion of the 2016 Chilean study:
“The consumption of 0.7 L of non-alcoholic beer before exercise could help maintain blood electrolyte homeostasis during exercise. The consumption of 0.7 L of alcoholic beer before exercise increased plasma K+ and decreased plasma Na+ during exercise, which could negatively affect sport performance and health. Water ingestion before exercise also resulted in a decrease in plasma Na+ during exercise. Non-alcoholic beer, but not alcoholic beer or water, may be an effective sports drink before exercise.”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924186/. In simple terms, non-alcoholic beer helps you maintain your electrolyte balance, and thus, heighten your endurance.
Based on these studies, the success of the German sports programs use of non alcoholic (The 2014 World Cup winning side became the first european nation to win a World Cup in the Southern hemisphere–Brazil. They had lots and lots of non-alcoholic beer), advocation from numerous athletes from around the globe, and my own experiences using non-alcoholic beer, it is recommended to ingest non-alcoholic beer for its numerous health benefits–and yes, it should replace your Gatorade and it should be part of your pre and post workout hydration and recovery plan.
In addition to the clinical studies on non-alcoholic beer, let’s review some of the “Benefits” of beer that are sure to exist in non-alcoholic beer (it just won’t make you dance better or other people prettier).
Beer contains polyphenols and antioxidants from the wheat, barley and hops. In addition to helping reduce inflammation, these wonderful beer byproducts are evidenced to boost the immune system, especially in the upper respiratory tract. Let’s also not forget XANTHOHUMOL, a flavonoid in beer, which has been proven in clinical studies to improve cognitive function.
Then there’s all the anecdotal evidence…beer can protect your heart, prevent kidney stones, lower bad cholesterol, strengthen bones, reduce stress, improve memory and do your taxes. (No, not the last part, just making sure you’re paying attention).
The known and assumed benefits of beer are even greater in nonalcoholic beer as proven by the above named studies and the known detriment of alcohol. There ARE benefits for 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day for adult males, and 1 alcoholic drink per day for females, but all benefits are lost once one exceeds those amounts and we all know too well how difficult those lines are. In other words, alcoholic drinks are not a health tonic, but you can and should consider a nonalcoholic beer as a health tonic and sports drink.
Other things of note in terms of NA beer (nonalcoholic beer) are that there are far fewer calories compared to its alcoholic counterpart. In addition to reaping all the known and associated health benefits from beer, many athletes struggle to get the replenishment necessary for continuous bouts of exercise. NA beer is emerging as a great response for this need. Many brewing companies are fashioning entire lines of NA beer to satisfy this expanding market. These brewers don’t seem to be dead set on punishing a drinker for choosing a NA beer, which is a far pour from their predecessors (Odouls, Sharps, etc). Like their predecessors, NA brewers are kind enough to package the product the same while also helping you feel the experience by charging you every bit as much as the supremely tasty micro-beer just down the aisle–so don’t worry, the experience is maintained. (Not complaining by the way, the cost of production for NA beer is no less than that of it’s crazy uncle Al).
My top two brewing companies that you can find just about anywhere for NA beer are the German brewer Clausthaler, and the American brewing company, Athletic Brewing out of Stratford, Connecticut. I would compare the lager from Clausthaler to a refreshing Rainier beer/Heineken/pilsner, while the Athletic Brewing Company offers an array of beers currently, three of which I have had many of, and enjoyed. The three I have had and liked are the “All out extra dark”–which is essentially a stout. The “Run Wild IPA”–which is a malt forward IPA with a touch of citrus. My favorite of these is the “Upside Dawn Golden Ale”–it is crisp and refreshing and tastes super great after a workout! The NA beer market as a whole will be predicated by the promotion of NA beer as a health drink. In the name alone and with sports celebrity endorsements, Athletic brewing has signified this and brands like Gruvi are right there with the science backed taglines.
BEST of the Near Beer Best?
1.CRUX NO MO IPA
2.FREMONT N/A IPA
3. GUINNESS DOES A GREAT N/A IRISH STOUT
4. DESCHUTES HIT THE MARK WITH THEIR N/A PORTER
I use NA beer in the crucial pre and post workout windows, and throughout the day–literally whenever I feel the want. I love having them along for before, during, and after hikes. For bodybuilding specifically, NA beer has been very helpful in the “Carb Up” process leading into a show, to keep inflammation down, and to help calm the nerves leading up to performing near naked in front of judges and an audience.
In the end for me, NA beer has been a godsend. I love beer. I have been drinking it since I was a kid, no kidding. I was a very unofficial, rather inebriated, and unapologetic spokesman for Rainier Beer as, “Ranierman” for many years (picture attached). I understand the thirst for beer. Furthermore, I know my thirst for beer with alcohol in it doesn’t produce my finer moments and hinders my ability to progress to the person I want to be. Alternatively, I have discovered through research and application that NA beer aids and promotes my progress. NA beer alternatives offer a healthy option to those looking to maintain social connections in alcoholic environments without stigma and with all the benefits of beer (minus the clouding of inhibition). NA beer also provides a myriad of health benefits that warrant its inclusion into the daily diet. The evolution of NA beer in regards to science backed proof of its benefits and the expansion of brewing technology and marketplace, promises more good brews to come!
“ NA beer leaves me with no restrictions-I can have the beer whenever and not have to worry about any side effects of alcohol like impairment, dehydration, or a hang over. NA beer really lets me unwind and not worry about a thing, and it does not sacrifice on taste. That helps me get the fluids necessary to keep my body running”
— BEN KANUTE, OLYMPIC TRIATHLETE
“I Drank NA beer throughout my prep and especially the night before in my Carb Up process! I prefer Clauthauler or Athletic Brewing Company for my NA beers.” …Ryan Bee, Classic Physique overall winner 2019 NW Ironman Naturally, WNBF physique Pro, and owner/creator of BEEfit training systems and studios.
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