Should runners drink beer after a race?

EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman discusses what happens to your body when you have alcohol before, during, or after endurance exercise.

Video Transcription:

Beer And Exercise

Oh I'm so parched, what's a poor endurance athlete need to do to get a drink around here? Oh what's this? Some Bobcat Logic from Spearfish Brewing Company, I'll gladly have some at 9 o'clock in the morning. Besides it's 3 o'clock somewhere. Excuse me while I quench my thirst. Man, I might wanna do like two or three takes of this video. But...whoa, let's get to the point today. Beer and endurance exercise go together like peanut butter and jelly in my humble opinion. Nothing tastes better after a hot run or ride than a cold frosty one, and to celebrate good times with your friends.

But if you're like me you may wonder what happens to your body when you have alcohol or beer before, during, and after endurance exercise, and that's what we're gonna talk about today, and I'm gonna try to get through this real quick before I start to slur my words, there you go, before this beer takes full effect. So we're gonna look at about three to four different studies involving alcohol and endurance exercise and see what it does to the body before, during, and if you would drink it after endurance exercise.

Beer Before A Cycling Time Trial

So the first study had 13 trained cyclists drink two alcoholic beverages right before a 60 minute time trial. Now who in God's green earth would wanna do this? I mean that's pretty moronic to drink alcohol right before endurance exercise, but honestly I kinda wanna shake this researcher's hand for making science cool again. But anyways, researchers had these trained cyclists drink two alcoholic beverage right before a 60 minute time trial, and what happened is a lot of bad, bad things. One, power output was decreased by 4%, heart rate was increased above normal values, the body's ability to use glucose was diminished, and the exercise overall seemed a lot harder to these cyclists. So take home point here, don't drink alcohol right before endurance exercise, it's a bad idea.

Alcohol Before A VO2 Max Test

Now the second study that had, whoa excuse me, had a rugby team go out and party the night before having a VO2 max test done the next day. So these rugby players went out and they had anywhere from 1 to 38 drinks apiece, that guy who had 38 drinks, holy smokes what a horse. So these rugby players went out, they partied ,and they went back to the lab the next day and had a VO2 max test done and see how that affected performance. But all in all whether the person had 1 drink or 38 drinks, VO2 max performance was decreased by about 12%. So the point being here, if you're gonna go out and party have as many drinks as you want because it's not gonna matter if you have 1 or 38. The decrements in VO2 are gonna be decreased by a similar amount.

So that's alcohol before endurance exercise and some of the effects it has on the body. Now what about alcohol during endurance exercise? Like literally replacing your sports drink with some beer. Now I have good news here, there are actually no studies that have been done consuming alcohol during endurance exercise. But there was one guy who was stupid enough in time to take a bet that he could drink PBR and eat pizza during a 50 mile ultra marathon, and guess would run drinking PBR and eating pizza? This guy right here. But not recommended even though PBR is kinda like water, and, you know, pizza is some kind of a gut bomb, still not the best idea.

Beer After Exercise

So what about drinking alcohol or beer right after exercise? Let's just say you just get done with a race and you wanna have a few with the friends and whatnot. So this last study kinda took a whole bunch of papers that examined post exercise alcohol consumption and crunched all the data, and what they found is drinking alcohol right after endurance exercise increased markers of muscle damage by a whopping 45%. So that's pretty significant. So all in all it's probably not a good idea to drink alcohol right after endurance exercise.

So that's what happens when you drink alcohol before, during, and after endurance exercise. So what's really the take home point here? Like if recovery and performance is your main priority the next day it's probably best to avoid alcohol right after endurance exercise or even before. But if you're like me and aren't really concerned about that, if you love beer, go ahead and tip back a few at the end of a ride or a race, and you have a good time with your friends. It's not gonna be the end of the world. Your performance and recovery may suffer the next day, but in the whole scheme of things a few beers is not gonna kill ya.

So that is all I have for today my endurance friends. If you have a beer loving friend please share this video with them. If you want other videos like this please head on over to our Endurelite YouTube channel and subscribe. Head over to the Endurelite blog at and get social with us on Facebook and Instagram. All right. I'm gonna tip back another beer my endurance friends. But until next time stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast, and stay informed.