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Out There: Beer, the Recovery Brew

Beer can be a recovery drink, but there’s a catch.

Beer can be a recovery drink, but there’s a catch.

Beer me. Now.

Not the hard stuff, though. Not even the moderately buzz-inducing stuff. Pass the O’Doul’s, please and thank you.

Beer and runners go together like … well, beer and runners. If we’re not making a beeline for the beer tent after crossing a finish line, we’re making plans to meet at the bar for post-race burgers and brews. Runners love beer so much, we’ve combined the two into an actual subcategory of racing—The Beer Mile, a four-lap, four-beer race where boys become men and men puke in the bleachers behind the track.

But what if beer was a performance-enhancing beverage? It’s possible—but there’s a catch. It’s got to be the kind that doesn’t give you a buzz.

It seems sacrilegious to ask for a non-alcoholic brewski as a reward for a long run, but that’s exactly what I’ll be popping in the trailhead parking lot with my run crew. Why? Science told me to.

Research scientists for the Department of Preventative and Rehabilitative Sports Medicine of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen at Klinikum rechts der Isar (say that five times fast, I dare you!) say consumption of non-alcoholic weissbier, or wheat beer, has a positive effect on the health of athletes.

The study, creatively named “Be-MaGIC” (beer, marathons, genetics, inflammation and the cardiovascular system), compared marathon runners who imbibed in non-alcoholic beer with others who were given a beer-flavored placebo. The group of runners downing the weissbier experienced reduced inflammation and increased immunity, staving off the infamous post-marathon sinus infection so many runners experience.

RELATED: Colorado Running Store Boasts 20 Beer Taps

So what’s behind the protective qualities of non-alcoholic brew? It’s MaGIC. (Okay, not really, but it’s fun to say, especially if you add jazz hands and an overeager smile.) The secret is a particular blend of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols found in non-alcoholic beer. The alcoholic stuff, though arguably more fun to drink, inhibits absorption of vitamins, rendering its health benefits moot.

The good news is that science is looking out for us runners.

The better news is that we’ve finally found a practical use for non-alcoholic beer.

The best news of all is that I’m pretty much guaranteed to avoid puking in the bleachers this year.

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About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she is a featured contributor to Triathlete and Women’s Running magazines. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with four animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, a pinscher and a freakishly tall triathlete named Neil. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke