Beer Beats Water After Exercise: Doctors

Steven Taylor passes along a (somewhat old) scientific report that may spur a health movement:

Researchers at Granada University in Spain have come across a discovery that will undoubtedly please athletes and sports enthusiasts – a pint of beer post-workout or match is better at rehydrating the human body than water.

Professor Manuel Garzon, a member of Granada’s medical faculty, made the finding after tests on 25 students over several months. Researchers believe that it is the sugars, salts, and bubbles in a beer that may help people absorb fluids more quickly.

The subjects in the study were asked to run on a treadmill at temperatures of 104F (40C) until they were close to exhaustion. Once they had reached the point of giving up, researchers measured their hydration levels, motor skills, and concentration ability. Half of the subjects were given two half pints of Spanish lager to drink, and the other half were given just water.

Garzon said that the rehydration effection in those who were given beer was “slightly better” than those who were given only water. He also believes that the carbon dioxide in beer helps quench thirst more quickly, and that beer’s carbohydrates replace calories lost during physical exertion.

In additional to the methodological weaknesses Steven notes, I’m also a bit curious as to the approval process for this experiment.  I can scarcely imagine an American university countenancing an experiment where beer was given to dehydrated college students.

Naysayers might also note that, if one’s motivation for exercising in the first place is weight loss, then replacing calories lost during physical exertion may not be what’s most desired.  And if being non-thirsty is one’s primary objective, one could make a strong argument for skipping straight to the beer, bypassing the exercise altogether.

Photo by Flickr user Chaval Brasil under Creative Commons license.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Which, of course, explains why my kendo club drinks beer after our strenuous workouts.

  2. steve says:

    Hmm, beer is generally considered to be a mild diuretic. Hence, the old saying that you only rent beer. Need to see the time course of the study.


  3. Steve Plunk says:

    After a long bicycle ride it’s Gatorade followed by a beer or ten. Weight loss? That’s for young people.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    beer is a mild diuretic, but it doesn’t dehydrate you or contribution to dehydrations, it’s just less efficient at hydration than water, which is less efficient than most sports drinks.

  5. You know, beer works pretty well even without the strenuous work-out.

  6. G.A.Phillips says:

    Boots make good free weights.

  7. Franklin says:

    My notes:

    1) I have never found beer to be “thirst quenching”. Is it satisfying on a hot day? Of course, as long as I’m not actually thirsty.

    2) If beer doesn’t dehydrate you, what exactly causes the hangover? Because I thought hangovers were due to dehydration (but I could be wrong).

    3) There’s got to be ten thousand better ways to replenish your calories after a workout than beer.

  8. PD Shaw says:

    a hangover, I believe, is primarily the result of alcohol toxicity.

    say you’re sitting at the pub drinking pints of water at the same pace you would drink pints of beer. You’ll probably urinate frequently, but slightly less frequently as if you had been drinking beer. However, if you’re drinking beer there will eventually come a point where your liver is going to struggle to keep up with detoxifying your blood, draining more vitamins and reducing glucose to the brain.

    when i used to run, just about every event had a keg at the finish line. A number of runners like the relaxation to the muscles and mind after a hard run. I didn’t, mainly because it was like 9AM – 10AM.