Remember the Winter Olympics? Yeah, me neither. The 2018 games were as forgettable as ever, but they did give us three important, life-altering revelations: Adam Rippon, Chloe Kim and the discovery that non-alcoholic beer is a great sports-recovery beverage.
Yep — beer like O’Doul’s, once considered the sole province of recovering alcoholics, actually contains the right balance of ingredients for aiding muscle recovery after strenuous exercise. Thank the German Olympic team for bringing this to our attention. No, they weren’t just indulging their rich cultural history of sucking down fermented yeast — German Olympians across a host of sports were seen drinking NA beers during the Olympics to recover from training and competition.
Anyone who’s ever mowed a lawn, gone on a hike or just, like, leaned on a fence on a particular muggy summer day knows there’s something uniquely alluring about a frosty-cool brew as a thirst quencher. Legend even has it Michael Jordan used to drink a six-pack after Bulls games to replenish his energy, but, like a lot of Jordan stories — remember the one about Jordan being jealous of Scottie Pippen for dating Madonna?— the tale is unconfirmed.
Even if MJ drank a sixer of pilsner after torching the Knicks one night, science strongly suggests you’d be an idiot to try the same. For one, he’s the greatest athlete who’s ever lived. More importantly, all of the potentially restorative ingredients in regular beer — mostly the hops, yeast and barley — are negated by the ethanol.
Essentially, the booze in beer offsets the good stuff. It exacerbates the dehydration a person experiences after a workout, inhibiting the body’s ability to synthesize muscle fibers and thus delaying the recovery process.
But extract the alcohol, and you have a surprisingly useful and effective recovery drink. Don’t believe me? Let’s ask a doctor.
“When alcohol is not present, it allows the beneficial ingredients to be effectively utilized,” says Dr. Ryan Greene, an osteopathic physician and diet and fitness coach in Los Angeles.
“Hops has been noted to help treat anxiety, insomnia, indigestion and muscle tension — all things that plague athletes,” he continues. “Barley is commonly used for diarrhea, gastritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and has also been known to lower blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and promote weight loss. It’s an excellent source of vitamins, carbohydrates, protein and fatty oils. Another principle component, brewer’s yeast, is well-known an excellent source of chromium, B complex vitamins, protein and selenium, which helps with the function of your liver and thyroid. So all those things together, you can certainly consider non-alcoholic beer a post-workout beverage.”
So there you go. Next time you hit the weights, reach for a can afterward.