HealthTraining & Performance
Q:

Can beer be considered a valuable source of carbs for post- training refueling?

Can beer be considered a valuable source of carbs for post- training refueling? Marc Montreal, Quebec

A:

Marc,
Nice try, but no. The dehydrating impact of alcohol trumps the benefits from the carbohydrate, and it's also important to realize that alcohol itself is primarily metabolized to fatty acids rather than to usable carbohydrate energy. Yes, it originated as carbohydrate—grains, grapes, corn, whatever—but now it's alcohol and your body treats it differently. There's actually not much usable carbohydrate energy in beer or wine.

Now, that doesn't mean that athletes have to avoid alcohol at all times. A beer or glass of wine with dinner or while watching the game isn't going to set your training back. Alcohol right after a big workout isn't going to help you recover for tomorrow's training, however. Immediately post-workout, you should go for a carbohydrate- rich recovery drink that contains electrolytes then, consume a full meal within about an hour to take full advantage of the “glycogen window" that enables you to replenish your carbohydrate stores rapidly. If you want to have a beer later that evening, be my guest, but wash it down with a full pint glass of water.

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