It’s no secret. Many endurance athletes love to have a beer “for recovery,” after a long day of exercise, training, or a race. It affords the opportunity to slow down the pace of life and socialize with others. Although alcoholic beer is known to have many negative effects on an athlete’s physiology, recently released research also shows favorable effects – for non-alcoholic and perhaps even alcoholic wheat beer. This article in no way argues the negative effects alcohol has on performance and recovery. It merely points out, that drinking a specific type of beer may also have positive effects very relevant to endurance athletes.
Alcohol: What is it?
Ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol, is found in beer, wine, and liquor. It is produced through the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches. Humans have consumed alcohol for many thousands of years, both intentionally and unintentionally.
Alcohol is a depressant that affects the human body in several different ways, and can have dire consequences if abused. It affects metabolism, neural function, cardiovascular physiology, thermoregulation, and skeletal muscle (1). Physiology, behavior, and impairment are progressively affected by a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). This is the amount of alcohol that is circulating through the bloodstream. Impairment becomes progressively worse as BAC rises. This impairment includes the ability to concentrate and reason; it also affects vision, reflexes, speech, memory, motor skills, and organ function.