If you are a beer lover, chances are that you have scoffed at the sight of an O’Douls. After all, non-alcoholic beer is for chumps…right? Well, chumps and, as it turns out, olympians. That’s right, the best athletes in the world are turning to non-alcoholic beer for their recovery drinks. So, does it actually help? According to science—yes.
The health benefits derived from beer come from compounds known as phenols. Phenols have been shown to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of getting sick. David Nieman of Appalachian State University has been studying the health effects of phenols and spoke with NPR about his findings. According to David, “[Polyphenols] have a very unique molecular structure that can actually regulate the genes that control inflammation”.
Beer has approximately 50 phenols in it, which is what lead Nieman to test the recovery effects of beer on athletes. During his studies Nieman had marathon runners drink 1.5 liters of non-alcoholic beer a day and found that it did in fact aid in their recovery. According to Nieman these runners had a significantly lower risk of contracting an upper respiratory infection and their white blood cell count was down a staggering 20%.
However, even non-alcoholic beer is a diuretic, meaning that athletes have to be conscious of the fact that they will need to consume more water to maintain the levels of hydration they need to perform. Since they will likely have to urinate more it can be harder to stay hydrated, which is why a non-alcoholic beer shouldn’t be consumed during the day, but rather in the evening when the athletes will have several hours to get their glycogen back up.
It is true that there is still a lot of research to be done in this field, but it is interesting to see an increasing number of top athletes integrate non-alcoholic beer into their training regimine. It’s also worth noting that the social aspects of drinking are incredibly valuable. After all, who wouldn’t want to enjoy a nice beer after a day of competition in the olympic village?