Can You Drink Beer After Exercise?

A cold brew can be a great way to finish off a sports activity or intense workout. But can it also damage your health? Are there beers that are actually good for that post-workout thirst? Get-Fit Guy gets to the bottom of the glass.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #182

The Downside to Alcohol and Exercise

There are definitely negatives to mixing booze and exercise. For example, high amounts of alcohol intake can impair protein synthesis, which is exactly how your muscles repair themselves after exercise. This was found in a study published earlier this year in PLoS One. In practical terms, this means chugging a few beers after, say, a triathlon, may lead to slower recovery for your shoulder or knee muscles.

The study also revealed that when athletes binged on alcohol after an intensive strength-training workout, their protein synthesis decreased by nearly 40% – but these athletes were doing a lot of drinking - roughly 8 shots of vodka mixed with orange juice over a 3-hour period!

The good news is that there is no evidence I’m aware of to show that alcohol in moderation (such as a single beer or a glass of wine) is going to cause this same effect. So bottoms up – but not too many!

What Kind of Beer Is Healthy?

Unfortunately, just like many processed foods, beer can have some definite disadvantages in the health department. Here’s some harmful ingredients that are commonly found in beer:

  • GMO Corn Syrup
  • GMO Corn
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Fish Bladder
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Natural Flavors
  • GMO Sugars
  • Caramel Coloring
  • Insect-Based Dyes
  • Carrageenan
  • BPA

Newcastle, Budweiser, Corona, Miller Lite, Michelob, Guinness, Coors Light, and Pabst are some of the biggest offenders!

When it comes to finding healthy beer, I recommend you find a microbrewery that you can trust – one that relies upon healthy, organic, naturally-sourced ingredients. The ones who reveal their ingredients proudly are your best bet. 

Organic beers that are unpasteurized and unfiltered include:

  • Wolaver’s – all beers
  • Lamar Street – Whole Foods label (brewed by Goose Island)
  • Bison – all beers
  • Dogfish Head (organic when ingredients are available)
  • Fish Brewery Company – Fish Tale Ales
  • Lakefront Brewery – Organic ESB
  • Brooklyn – (organic when ingredients are available)
  • Pinkus – all beers
  • Samuel Smiths – Samuel Smiths Organic Ale
  • Wychwood – Scarecrow Ale

You can read more details on how to choose healthy beer in the excellent article 8 Beers You Should Stop Drinking Immediately, and if you have questions about drinking beer after exercise, then join the discussion over at Facebook.com/GetFitGuy.

Bodybuilder with beer image courtesy of Shutterstock; Wolaver's image courtesy of Esquire


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.