HOW Beer Af­fects your Fit­ness

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - SUDS & CYCLING -

Many cy­clists’ favourite post-ride drink of choice is not a pro­tein shake but a cold, re­fresh­ing beer. There’s some­thing spe­cial about shar­ing a pint that you feel you’ve earned with a group of friends you’ve just rid­den with. But when it comes to your per­for­mance and your health, how does that brew fit in?

Ac­cord­ing to Nanci Guest, a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian who stud­ies nu­trige­nomics and ath­letic per­for­mance in Toronto, there isn’t a sim­ple an­swer. “If you don’t drink, don’t start,” she said. “But if you do drink in mod­er­a­tion, you might be get­ting some health ben­e­fits.” It re­ally comes down to your goals, she added. While some re­search has pointed to the an­tiox­i­dants in beer and the car­diac health ben­e­fits of con­sum­ing beer or other types of al­co­hol, for ath­letes, there are cer­tain down­sides.

Though not as com­mon as the post-ride beer, a midride beer on a sum­mer pa­tio might be tempt­ing enough for you to con­sider it. How­ever, al­co­hol con­sump­tion blocks the break­down of fat for fuel and will im­pair your re­ac­tion time and judg­ment – fac­tors to con­sider be­fore sip­ping dur­ing or be­fore a ride.

Af­ter a ride, beer can be bad news. “If you’re hav­ing a cou­ple of beers af­ter each ride and you’re rid­ing four or five days a week and you’re want­ing to get bet­ter, get stronger, these drinks be­come a con­cern be­cause we have ev­i­dence that mus­cle pro­tein syn­the­sis and mus­cle re­pair is hin­dered by al­co­hol for up to 24 hours,“Guest said. It in­hibits glyco­gen re­ple­tion, im­pair­ing re­cov­ery. It also af­fects your sleep cy­cles, Guest said. “Even though a lot of peo­ple fall asleep af­ter drink­ing, as the al­co­hol wears off, you’ll go from a deep sleep into a lighter sleep about four hours af­ter drink­ing,” she ex­plained. “A lot of re­pair and re­gen­er­a­tion is hap­pen­ing overnight, and even a lit­tle bit of al­co­hol can im­pair your sleep.”

For those try­ing to op­ti­mize body com­po­si­tion, a beer or two can be a gate­way to junk food. “Al­co­hol is what we call a dis­in­hibitor,” Guest said. “You’ll no­tice that peo­ple who ini­tially sat down and weren’t hun­gry or or­dered a salad are all of a sud­den dip­ping into the na­chos or the wings af­ter hav­ing a drink. It’s not that al­co­hol makes you hun­grier, but it breaks down your abil­ity to re­sist, or your self-con­trol or dis­ci­pline.”

But what about the so­cial as­pect? Guest said while keep­ing your goals in mind is im­por­tant, so is ac­knowl­edg­ing the ben­e­fits of in­dulging in a beer here or there. “It’s very im­por­tant to keep so­cial fac­tors in con­sid­er­a­tion as well,” she said. “We know the health ben­e­fits of the ca­ma­raderie and be­ing with friends, and I think the emo­tional and psy­cho­log­i­cal is too of­ten un­der­mined. We need to have a holis­tic ap­proach to health.”

Rather than re­strict­ing your­self, Guest sug­gested mak­ing the most of a drink or two here or there. “If you’re sort of want­ing to do the right thing for your body, keep it to a bot­tle or a glass,” she said. “If you’re feel­ing like you de­serve a lit­tle more and it’s not very fre­quent, have a pint. It’s all about what your goals are and weigh­ing the cost/ben­e­fit anal­y­sis.”— Ch­eryl­madliger

op­po­site right The gravel roads of the Growl­ing Beaver Brevet

op­po­site bot­tom Post-ride re­fresh­ments at the Side Launch Brew­ing Com­pany op­po­site top left Gran Fondo Mont-trem­blant

above Red Truck Brew­ery

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