After vigorous exercise, non-alcoholic beer can be better than water

dpa news germany

(dpa) – Your grand cycling tour is over, or you’ve just climbed to the mountain’s summit. How about a non-alcoholic beer to quench your thirst? Many of these beers are ideal drinks for athletes, brewers say.

There’s some truth to that, actually, according to Dr Axel Klein, a specialist in orthopaedics, casualty surgery and sports medicine and vice president of the German Society of Sports Medicine and Prevention (DGSP). Many non-alcoholic beers are isotonic and therefore good for athletes, he remarks.

Isn’t it sufficient to just drink water after vigorous exercise? Klein’s answer is no.

If it were just a matter of replacing lost fluid, water would be the better drink, he says. “But if you only drink water, you’re liable to upset your electrolyte balance” because your body not only loses water when you sweat, but also electrolytes such as magnesium and calcium.

A sports drink should offset this loss, which is where the magic word “isotonic” comes in.

“Isotonic drinks are drinks containing dissolved particles in similar concentrations as in human blood,” Klein explains.

This enables the body to absorb nutrients from the drink particularly quickly and then process them, which promptly offsets the loss.

Not every non-alcoholic beer is isotonic, though. “You have to take a close look,” says Klein, who also advises caution when it comes to non-alcoholic beers that are explicitly isotonic.

“Alcohol-free beer is essentially a post-exercise drink, not one meant for during exercise. Especially if you don’t normally drink it, you’ve got to be a bit careful since it can stimulate movement of the bowels and lead to diarrhoea,” he says.

Non-alcoholic beers aren’t the only isotonic drinks, of course. There are many alternatives, for example special sports drinks as well as mixtures such as three parts mineral water to one part fruit juice.

“You should check closely, though, to see whether they’re better suited for drinking after, or during, exercise,” says Klein. “There are namely differences in the composition of ingredients.”

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