Beer Fit Club events include beer for a reason! Yes, beer can actually be a part of a healthy lifestyle.
Research suggests that beer drinkers are more in tune with the nutritional value of their alcoholic beverage choices (take that wine snobs!), so let me break down the nutrients of beer and explain how your body makes the most of those sips you take in between poses.
As there are many different brews out there, I’m focusing on what science calls the average, which takes ales, lagers, premium beers, porters and stouts into consideration. Of course, nutrients in beer will vary depending on the fermentation method used, but for the most part, this average speaks to a majority of what’s available on tap at your local bar.
Let me preface this by saying that I do not endorse beer as a substitute for a healthy lifestyle, nor am I justifying increased consumption, which we all know is counterproductive. I’m just here to lay out some facts to help you become more informed about your choices. Okay, disclaimer over, let’s get down to business!
The Big Picture
Beer contains carbohydrates, protein (and its inherent amino acids), minerals, vitamins and polyphenols. I’ll focus on what has the biggest bang for the nutrient buck.
Vitamins & Minerals
One drink provides two percent of your daily needs for magnesium and phosphorus. These make up a majority of your entire body’s mineral content and without them, many of our metabolic processes wouldn’t take place. Beer also packs a lot of fluoride into your glass. Sodium and potassium are also present. Folate, essential for metabolizing amino acids and building our DNA, is the most abundant vitamin within beer. In fact, it provides up to fifteen and seven percent of the daily value for men and women, respectively. For your unassuming ale, that’s not too bad.
The polyphenols in beer come from malt and hops, key ingredients in brewing. Polyphenols are known for a slew of biological processes, mostly oxidative stress. While the polyphenolic content of beer is not as high as red wine (snicker away, snobs), it is the most consumed alcoholic beverage, which makes it the highest contributor of polyphenol intake. Touché, snobs.
Beer contains alanine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine and proline. These are nonessential amino acids, meaning that we already make these. However, don’t discount them just yet. Glycine and proline are conditional amino acids are needed more in biologically stressful situations.
Now onto some interesting health tidbits about beer…
Beer and Your Gut
No, I’m not talking about a beer belly, I’m talking about how it works with the bugs in your gut, called your microbiota. As I mentioned, beer contains polyphenols. When consumed in moderation, the polyphenols in beer may alter your gut bacteria in a good way by acting as prebiotics. Prebiotics have been shown to increase the production of friendly bacteria. However, the science is in the preliminary stages, so let’s not belly up to the bar just yet.
Beer and Exercise
A recent study examined the impact of moderate beer consumption on high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Results showed that those who consumed alcohol had the same positive changes in fat and lean masses as those who did not. Two additional studies suggest that consuming beer after exercise was no better at re-hydration than a sports drink or water.
So the next time you find yourself at a Beer Fit Club class, raise your glass proudly to your health and know that the beer you’re sipping may not be so bad for you.
Just in case you want to check my facts, here they are:
- Jiménez-Pavón, D. Effects of a moderate intake of beer on markers of hydration after exercise in the heat: a crossover study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jun 6;12:26.
- Moreno Indias, I. Benefits of the beer polyphenols on the gut microbiota. Nutr Hosp. 2017 Oct 15;34(Suppl 4):41-44.
- Molina-Hidalgo, C., et al. Beer or Ethanol Effects on the Body Composition Response to High-Intensity Interval Training. The BEER-HIIT Study. Nutrients. 2019 Apr 23;11(4).
- Quesada-Molina, M., et al. A New Perspective on the Health Benefits of Moderate Beer Consumption: Involvement of the Gut Microbiota. Metabolites. 2019 Nov; 9(11): 272.
- Sánchez-Muniz F.J., et al. The Nutritional Components of Beer and Its Relationship with Neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s Disease. Nutrients. 2019 Jul 10;11(7).
- Wijnen, A.H. Post-Exercise Rehydration: Effect of Consumption of Beer with Varying Alcohol Content on Fluid Balance after Mild Dehydration. Front Nutr. 2016 Oct 17;3:45.
- Wright, C.A., et al. Beer and wine consumers’ perceptions of the nutritional value of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. J Food Sci. 2008 Jan;73(1):H8-11.