The Truth About the Post-Workout Beer

If you exercise, chances are you also drink. I know this because according to a new study from Northwestern Medicine, people tend to drink more alcohol on the days they’ve exercised. Especially beer. It could be because we reward ourselves with a post-run brewski, or because we’ve used up all of our willpower on exercise, so we have none left to deny ourselves that drink or two. Whatever the reason, if you’re drinking thinking that it’ll help you sleep, relax your muscles, numb the pain, or increase blood flow to help you recover faster, as they say in AA, that’s just stinkin’ thinkin’.

“It’s detrimental to drink alcohol after any type of exercise or workout,” says Professor Matthew Barnes of New Zealand’s Massey University School of Sport and Medicine. “I’ve never really seen anything that says it’s useful as far as recovery.”

He’s also never seen anything that says alcohol is useful for comptetion. Barnes’ most recent study on the impact of alcohol on sports performance and recovery in men concluded that “the consumption of even low doses of alcohol prior to athletic endeavour should be discouraged due to the ergolytic effects of alcohol on endurance performance.” Ergolytic meaning performance impairing. These effects, the study’s authors wrote, “are likely to inhibit recovery and adaptation to exercise.”

How does alcohol screw you up? Let us count the ways. Because it’s a diuretic, you’ll urinate more. “That leads to dehydration,” says Barnes, “and the result is detrimental effects on muscular contraction.” Every gram of alcohol you ingest increases urine flow by about two teaspoons. To put that in perspective, a 12-ounce can of beer contains about 14 grams of alcohol. That’s an extra half-cup of pee.

Alcohol also interferes with how your body produces energy. Pushing all that liquor into your liver leaves you with less glucose, the sugar needed to power your muscles. If an athlete runs out of it, they hit that proverbial wall “and most likely won’t finish the race,” Barnes says.

As for fixing your injuries, “if you consume alcohol, probably any amount, it’ll increase blood flow to [injured areas], because it’s a reasonably good vasodilator,” explains Barnes. But that’s not necessarily a good thing—it could make an injury bleed or swell even more, causing more pain. The body’s regulatory system functions quite well without the alcohol, Barnes says.

Alcohol can also poison muscle fibers. Beer, in particular, affects the fast-twitch anaerobic fibers by inhibiting an enzyme that helps fuel the muscle. When that happens, the fibers don’t adapt like they should for up to three days. The result: a longer recovery period.

As for that pain you say a glass of pinot erases? “Alcohol makes you feel less pain because of the effects on the nerve endings,” says Barnes. “So you can mask that pain with alcohol.” Which may not be as helpful as it sounds. “The pain’s there for a reason,” adds Barnes. “Ignoring it’s probably not a better approach.”

Athletes in particular seem to think that after a grueling game or an extreme workout, alcohol will help them relax and sleep better. “But it actually disrupts people’s sleep pattern,” says Barnes. “They don’t get a restful night’s sleep. And you need a restful sleep. That’s when growth hormones are released in your body, during the night.”

Finally, there’s the drunken food choices. One athlete Barnes studied had only three carrots the entire day after drinking, while another went through seven meat pies. “Athletes’ diets tend to go out the window,” Barnes says. “Alcohol throws them completely out of sync. They go for convenience.” That inadequate or improper fueling can lead to poor performance.

If you still think a post-race beer isn’t a bad idea, consider this: alcohol interferes with your muscles’ post-workout rebuilding process by reducing protein synthesis. “So not only does alcohol interfere with recovery of muscle damage and injury,” says Barnes, “it also reduces the processes responsible for building muscle.” There is a tiny silver lining: while not beneficial, a few glasses of alcohol comsumedafter a solid recovery meal and drink won’t necessarily cancel out all of the work you just did.

So opt for water or a sports drink right after a competition. “The key is to regain the weight loss, to get back to that pre-exercise weight,” says Barnes. As for a post-race meal, Barnes suggests something with about 20g of protein (enough to optimize protein synthesis post-exercise) and around 50g of carbs (usually high glycemic index, simple carbs to speed up glycogen synthesis), like a chicken sandwich or a baked potato and tuna. Then, if you must, you can have some alcohol.

“Other than the social side of it, I can’t see a benefit to alcohol at all, really,” Barnes says. “If you’re an athlete and you’re drinking alcohol, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.”

This Hanukkah, give the gift of He’Brew beer

Here’s one way to toast the start of Hanukkah: Head to your local liquor store at sundown for some He’Brew: The Chosen Beer brews by New York-based Shmaltz Brewing Co.

Hanukkah, Chanukah: Pass the Beer, a dark ale brewed with eight varieties of malts and eight varieties of hops. The festive beer is also 8 percent alcohol by volume — a nod to Hanukkah’s eight nights.

Reunion Ale ’14 — A Beer for Hope, a collaboration with Georgia-based Terrapin Beer Co., is a dark imperial brown ale brewed with toasted coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, coffee and cocoa nibs. A portion of proceeds benefits the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research.

Rejewvenator, a mix between a Belgian-style dubbel ale and a dopplebock European-style lager, was brewed with California merlot wine and Concord grapes from New York.

St. Lenny’s — The Immaculate Collaboration, a Belgian-style rye double IPA, was brewed in partnership with Cathedral Square Brewery in St. Louis. The boozy beer is 10 percent alcohol by volume.

Jewbilation 18 celebrates He’Brew’s 18th anniversary with 18 malts and 18 hops. The black session barleywine is not 18 percent alcohol by volume (that would be a little much) but it’s still a winter warmer at 12.4 percent ABV.

The 5th Annual He’Brew Gift Pack comes with eight bottles of special release Shmaltz beers — one for every night of Hanukkah. Jewbilation 18, Hanukkah, Chanukah: Pass the Beer, Reunion Ale ’14 — A Beer for Hope and St. Lenny’s — The Immaculate Collaboration are all included in the gift pack. Also inside: A custom glass, Hanukkah candles and instructions on building your own beer menorah.

Starbucks launching mobile ordering, will add beer, wine and snacks

Starbucks Corp, aiming to give cooling U.S. traffic a jolt, on Thursday announced it will add beer, wine, and evening snacks to thousands of domestic cafes, widen lunch offerings and roll out mobile ordering.

Such efforts are part of the world’s biggest coffee chain’s plan to broaden its appeal as a destination with consumers who are spending more time shopping online rather than in malls and Main Street stores.

The company, which is hosting its biennial investor meeting in Seattle, said it would lay out its five-year plans to double U.S. food revenue to over $4 billion by expanding food choices, particularly during lunch hours.

Starbucks plans to reap about $1 billion in new sales from the addition of evening menus, including beer, wine and food, at nearly 3,000 of its 11,900 cafes in the United States.

The company also will detail the launch of a new mobile ordering and payment system that it says will make getting a coffee fix even more convenient. That same technology will underpin deliveries in select U.S. markets next year.

Additionally, in coming months, it will debut express stores, coffee trucks and upscale “reserve” shops, which will offer premium specialized coffee sourced from small farms.

Starbucks’ U.S.-dominated Americas unit had a traffic gain of 1 percent in the latest quarter, versus the 5 percent jump in the year-earlier period. An increase in sales of food, such as croissants and breakfast sandwiches, has helped offset slowing traffic in the last three quarters.

Chief Executive Howard Schultz in January warned that a “seismic” shift to online shopping was taking a bite out of traffic to U.S. brick-and-mortar stores.

That, executives said, contributed to a moderate slowdown in traffic in December 2013.

Traffic softened earlier this year than last and the weakness is expected to continue through the holiday season, said Steven Barr, who leads PwC’s U.S. retail and consumer practice.

The chain, which has 21,000 shops worldwide serving 70 million customers weekly, forecast fiscal 2019 revenue of nearly $30 billion, up from $16 billion in the fiscal 2014 ended Sept. 28.

Plans for the Asia-Pacific region include doubling its cafes in China to over 3,000 by 2019.

Rogue’s Sriracha Hot Stout Beer is really a thing

We love Sriracha, and we love beer. But together? Jury is out.

Rogue, the West Coast producer of such beers as the American Ale, Portland State IPA and the Beard beer, as well as ciders and sodas, are doing a hot sauce and beer mashup with their latest brew, the Sriracha Hot Stout Beer.

It’s made with Huy Fong original hot chili sauce, and sun-ripened Rogue Farms ingredients, and, according to Rogue, “is ready to drink with soups, sauces, pasta, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, chow mein or anything you’d like to wash down with a spicy kick.”

It’s available for pre-order now on the Rogue site for $13 and will begin shipping on Dec. 8.