Drinking water, juice or sports drinks are better post-workout options to refuel than beer.
© Gregory Shamus
There are a lot of misconceptions about how alcohol fits into an athlete’s diet. Think you know the facts? Test your knowledge with the true or false questions below.
True or False: Alcohol can contribute to unwanted weight gain.
It’s not a myth: alcohol really can wreak havoc on your waistline for several reasons. First, alcoholic beverages contain calories—generally between 100 and 150 per drink. These "empty" calories are often consumed in addition to a person’s typical daily intake and can quickly add up. Couple that with the fact that alcohol seems to stimulate appetite, and you may find yourself unknowingly over-consuming several hundred calories at each post-match celebration.
But it isn’t just about the extra calories—alcohol can also affect your body’s ability to burn fat for energy. Research suggests that a by-product of alcohol metabolism (acetate) seems to inhibit the body’s fat burning capabilities, which can result in unwanted fat storage.
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to improve your performance on the court. If you’re struggling to lose your love handles, consider swapping your post-workout beer for water instead.
True or False: Alcohol does not cause dehydration.
It’s not your imagination—you actually do have to go to the bathroom more often when you consume alcohol. That’s because alcohol is a diuretic; it actually stimulates your body to produce urine. Its diuretic effect will cause you to eliminate more fluid than you consume. The more you drink, the more pronounced the effect and the more likely it will be to interfere with your performance on the court.
Hydration plays a huge role in your ability to perform well on the tennis court. It may be worth forgoing a drink or two the night before an important practice or match to achieve your best results.
True or False: Beer is a great way to refuel muscles after a workout.
It’s true; beer does contain carbohydrates, which are important for fueling your muscles post-workout. But contrary to popular belief, beer is not a great recovery option. First, because it isn’t really that rich in carbs—a typical 12-ounce beer contains between 10 and 14 grams (only about 2 grams in the low-cal options). Compare that to 21 grams in an equal sized serving of Gatorade or 40 grams in a 12-ounce glass of orange juice, and you’ll see that beer is not an ideal option. Plus, its diuretic effect will leave you dehydrated.
Refueling after a workout is an important part of training. While it’s fine to enjoy a beer with friends to celebrate a hard effort, don’t consider it your recovery meal. Be sure to include some carbohydrate-rich foods, too. And don’t forget the water!