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IS IT OK TO HAVE A BEER AFTER A RUN?

26 September 2017


It’s a common sight after many a running race; runners socialising with an ice-cold beer in the hand discussing every detail of the race they’ve just run. In fact, many a times the ice cold beer waiting at the club tent is exactly what keeps runners pushing through the last couple of kilometres of a marathon. But how good or bad is the consumption of alcohol directly after running? Dietician Chanelle Retief shares her personal experience.

It’s all about timing
While studying towards my Masters-degree in Dietetics, the Sport Nutrition lecturer asked us how we felt about alcohol post-exercise. I remember being hesitant to answer, because I thought my answer was wrong. But unfortunately my lecturer knew that I am a runner and she asked me to answer.
I answered by asking her a question: “When is the athlete planning on training again?”. I nailed it spot on. The golden rule in deciding on having a cold one after a race is very simple: it boils down to when you are planning to train again.

Different strokes for different folks
Most professionals recommend that athletes should not consume alcohol after training due to various reasons being:
1.   A high intake of alcohol could cause swelling
2.   It could cause further dehydration
3.   It could impair glycogen storage
4.   It could impair recovery
 
All true, but in my opinion the simplest test is to stick to the question: “When am I planning on training again?”
1.   If you are planning on taking a day or two to recover after your race, there is definitely nothing wrong with a beer or two (maximum) post race.
2.   A good idea is to first have some water or an electrolyte containing sports drink directly after you run before you opt for that cold one.
3.   Please keep in mind I am referring here to having one (maximum of two) beers/ciders after a run. This is no free licence to get tipsy or even sloshed!
4.   If however you are planning on training again within 8-10 hours, you should definitely hold off on the alcohol. 



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