Nutrition researchers at Griffith Health Institute (GHI), led by study author, associate professor Ben Desbrow, said beer contained healthy nutrients due to its plant origins and fermentation process.
But since alcohol acts as a diuretic beer leaves the body faster than plain water and increases the risk of dehydration and its neurological effects.
They added that drinking while one is dehydrated also increases the likelihood of risky behavior.
Cyclists served beers after exercise
The scientists added electrolytes to two (unnamed) commercial beers – one full strength (4.8% ABV) and one light (2.3% ABV) – and also prepared two respective non-fortified control beers.
Seven male volunteers cycled on an ergometer until 1.96% (±0.25% SD) body mass was lost on four separate occasions, and were randomly served each beer after every exercise session.
Volumes drunk were equivalent to 150% of body mass lost during exercised and were consumed during a one hour period, with body mass and urine samples taken before exercise and every hour for four hours after beverage consumption.
After measuring fluid recovery, Desbrow said in a GHC release that the modified light beer with 2m mmol l-1 (millimols per liter) “was by far the most well-retained by the body, meaning it was the most effective at rehydrating the subjects”.
Dangers of dehydration and alcohol
In terms of hydration, this light beer was one third more effective, Desbrow said, but he added that people not should drink it after exercise, or effectively use it as a sports recovery beverage.
But he hinted that people who sweat normally – especially tradesmen – often finished work and had a beer, but alcohol in a dehydrated body could have ill effects such as a decreased awareness of risk.
But alcohol in a dehydrated body could have all sorts of repercussions, including decreased risk awareness, Desbrow said.
“A low alcohol beer with added sodium offers a potential compromise between a beverage with high social acceptance and one that avoids the exacerbated fluid losses observed when consuming full strength beer,” Desbrow et al. wrote.
Title: ‘Beer as a Sports Drink? Manipulating Beer’s Ingredients to Replace Lost Fluid’
Authors: Desbrow, B., Murray, D., Leveritt, M.
Source: International Journal of Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, Accepted April 29, 2013