Home > Trail Running

Why beer may be good for recovery

Replenish calories and reduce inflammation with a cold one this weekend


Ultrarunning sensation Courtney Dauwalter just made history at Lazarus Lake’s Big Backyard Ultra. She ran 268 miles repeating a four mile loop 67 times. How does one of the best trail and ultrarunners recover? When she won Western Sates in June 2018, she wanted to recover with a beer. 

RELATED: Can’t get into the Barkley? Consider another Laz Lake Ultra

Trail and ultrarunners are no strangers to enjoying a cold one after a hard race or training session. Beer not only tastes good, it restores calories, contains minerals, can reduce inflammation, and helps athletes relax from hard efforts. Here is why endurance runners may want to consider beer as part of their recovery. 

RELATED: Walmsley, Dauwalter conquer Western States 100



Calories and carbohydrates

Endurance runners have a 30-minute window to consume calories following a tough workout or race. Although beer contains a higher ratio of carbohydrates to protein than the optimal 4:1, the carbohydrate and protein content in beer can be nutritious in moderate amounts. Beer generally has a 10:1 or 10:2 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, with the remaining calories coming from lipids and ethanol. Following a hard effort, athletes often prefer liquid calories over solid food. Since beer is 92 percent water, alcoholic or non alcoholic beer may a simple solution to replenish calories and carbohydrates. 

RELATED: Smoothie recipes for post-exercise recovery


Malts and minerals

Nutrition content in beer is dependent on the “types of malts used, mashing regime, degree of fermentation, and aging time,” Andrew Sawyer, brewmaster at A frame craft brewery in Squamish, B.C. explains. Malted barley has trace amounts of minerals such as silica and B6. Moreover, a glass of beer contains 92 mg of potassium, 14 mg of calcium, and 48 mg of phosphorus. One pint will suffice.

RELATED: Microbrewery launches win-your-weight-in-beer 5K


Polyphenols, antioxidants, and anti-inflammation

Malted barley also contains small amounts of polyphenols, which are high in antioxidants and have been linked to reducing inflammation. A 2016 study in the journal of Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity states that the anti-inflammatory effect of polyphenols can reduce inflammation brought on by oxidative stress. Levels of polyphenols found in hops depend on “type of varietal, soil quality, and genetic content,” explains Sawyer. Beer contains generally 12-14 percent polyphenols. Further spectrophotometric tasting would determine the exact percentages of polyphenols in your favourite brew. 

RELATED: Team Ultra: A marathon team for beer lovers



Decompress training stress

Beer is social. Drinking your recovery beer with friends may alleviate some of the stresses from training. John Kiely at University of Lancashire’s Institute of Coaching and Performance is proving how neurobiological stress relates to the physical stresses of intense training. Recovery means reducing stress in both the body and mind. Having a social beer is a way in which athletes can decompress after a race or training cycle. Cheers to the highs and the lows of training with friends to optimize your recovery. 

This weekend, recover from the trails with a cold one. It may replenish your body and mind after a hard run.