Beer and Sport: A Research-Based Overview

Although beer is typically not associated with a healthy lifestyle, there is some research suggesting that moderate beer consumption may have certain benefits related to fitness and overall health. Here, we’ll explore the effects of beer on fitness, based on recent studies.

  1. Hydration and Electrolyte Balance A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2015 found that beer with a low alcohol content (2.3% ABV) consumed after exercise did not significantly affect rehydration when compared to water, suggesting that moderate consumption of low-alcohol beer may not harm hydration status after a workout (1). However, it is important to note that high-alcohol beer is not recommended for rehydration, as alcohol can have a diuretic effect.
  2. Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties Beer contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including polyphenols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A review published in the journal Nutrients in 2014 suggested that moderate beer consumption may have potential health benefits due to its polyphenol content, which could aid in recovery after exercise (2). However, more research is needed to determine the precise impact of these compounds on exercise recovery.
  3. Cardiovascular Health Moderate beer consumption has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, which is an essential aspect of overall fitness. A review published in the European Journal of Epidemiology in 2016 found that moderate alcohol consumption, including beer, was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (3). However, excessive alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on heart health, so it’s essential to consume beer in moderation.
  4. Potential Negative Effects on Fitness It’s important to note that excessive beer consumption can negatively impact fitness by contributing to weight gain, disrupting sleep, and impairing muscle recovery. The key to benefiting from beer’s potential positive effects in moderation.

Risks Associated with Beer Consumption and Fitness

While moderate beer consumption may offer some benefits, excessive alcohol intake can have numerous negative effects on fitness and overall health. Here, we’ll explore some of the risks associated with beer consumption, particularly when it comes to fitness.

  1. Weight Gain Beer is calorie-dense, and excessive beer consumption can lead to weight gain. Consuming too many calories without a proportional increase in physical activity can result in weight gain and negatively impact your fitness goals. Additionally, alcohol can disrupt metabolism and fat oxidation, further contributing to weight gain (1).
  2. Dehydration Alcohol has a diuretic effect, which can lead to dehydration, especially when consumed in large quantities. Dehydration can negatively impact athletic performance and recovery, as well as overall health.
  3. Impaired Muscle Recovery and Growth Excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with muscle protein synthesis, impairing muscle recovery and growth after exercise (2). This can hinder progress in strength training and potentially lead to injuries due to inadequate recovery.
  4. Decreased Athletic Performance Alcohol can impair coordination, balance, and reaction time, which can negatively affect athletic performance. Furthermore, alcohol can disrupt sleep, and inadequate sleep can result in decreased performance and recovery (3).
  5. Increased Risk of Injuries Impaired balance and coordination, along with reduced reaction time due to alcohol consumption, can increase the risk of injuries during physical activity.
  6. Long-term Health Risks Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to numerous long-term health risks, such as liver disease, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. These health issues can severely impact overall well-being and limit one’s ability to maintain a fit lifestyle.

Beer and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

While beer is a legal and widely consumed beverage, it’s important to consider its relationship with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and its regulations, particularly for athletes subject to anti-doping rules.

  1. Alcohol as a Prohibited Substance In the past, alcohol was listed as a prohibited substance for certain sports under WADA regulations due to its potential to impair athletic performance and pose risks to athletes’ health and safety. Specifically, alcohol was banned in sports where accuracy, balance, and coordination were critical, such as archery and motor racing.

However, as of January 1, 2018, alcohol was removed from WADA’s Prohibited List (1). This means that alcohol is no longer a banned substance for any sport under WADA regulations. Nonetheless, it’s essential for athletes to remember that excessive alcohol consumption can still have negative effects on performance, recovery, and overall health.

  1. Beer and Anti-Doping Education While beer is not a prohibited substance, WADA emphasizes the importance of anti-doping education and encourages athletes to be aware of the potential risks associated with alcohol consumption. Athletes should be mindful of the impact that alcohol may have on their performance, as well as the potential consequences of excessive consumption on their health and career.
  2. National and International Sports Federations Even though alcohol is not listed as a prohibited substance by WADA, individual sports federations may still have their own regulations regarding alcohol consumption. Athletes should familiarize themselves with the rules and guidelines of their respective sports governing bodies to ensure compliance with any alcohol-related restrictions.

In conclusion, while beer is not currently considered a prohibited substance by WADA, athletes should still be cautious about their alcohol consumption. Excessive beer intake can negatively impact athletic performance, recovery, and overall health, which may ultimately affect an athlete’s career.


  1. Jiménez-Pavón D, Cervantes-Borunda MS, Díaz LE, Marcos A, Castillo MJ. Effects of a moderate intake of beer on markers of hydration after exercise in the heat: a crossover study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:26.
  2. Chiva-Blanch G, Visioli F, Rimola A, Arranz S, Lamuela-Raventós RM. Wine and Beer Polyphenols: A Review on their Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects. Nutrients. 2021;13(6):1960.
  3. Costanzo S, Di Castelnuovo A, Donati MB, Iacoviello L, de Gaetano G. Wine, beer or spirit drinking in relation to fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events: a meta-analysis. Eur J Epidemiol. 2011;26(11):833-50.
  4. Suter PM, Tremblay A. Is alcohol consumption a risk factor for weight gain and obesity? Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2005;42(3):197-227.
  5. Parr EB, Camera DM, Areta JL, et al. Alcohol ingestion impairs maximal post-exercise rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis following a single bout of concurrent training. PLoS One. 2014;9(2):e88384.
  6. Ebrahim IO, Shapiro CM, Williams AJ, Fenwick PB. Alcohol and sleep I: effects on normal sleep. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2013;37(4):539-49.