You might have noticed a bit of talk recently about athletes drinking beer to help with recovery. But, should we be pedalling straight to the brewery or is it all hype?
Words: Zoe Wilson Photo: Tim Bardsley-Smith
For almost as long as humans have been around on Earth we’ve been drinking alcohol. Usually we drink for the buzz, the taste or for the social connection when out with friends. Only recently has it been about sports performance. Several studies of the last few years have looked at alcohol and performance, with a specific magnifying glass being held over beer. Media have picked this up and reported on athletes drinking beer for recovery, even up to the highest levels with non-alcoholic beer being provided in the Athletes Village at the last Winter Olympics. So what’s the deal?
The three Rs of recovery.
First we need to look at the principles of eating and drinking for recovery. Recovery nutrition to improve performance is all about three things: rehydration, refuelling and repair. As mountain biking is generally an endurance sport, most of us are using carbohydrate for fuel during a ride. Refuelling in terms of recovery involves replacing the carbohydrate (glycogen) in your muscles and liver so you’re ready to hit the trails again tomorrow. Repair of muscles is where protein comes in. Protein is essential for rebuilding and repairing the damage you’ve done to your muscles during your ride. Finally, rehydration focuses on replacing the fluids we lose during exercise because dehydration can negatively impact performance and slow the recovery process. Adding electrolytes also helps to speed up rehydration by making it easier for our body to absorb the fluid.