Beer is richer in certain micronutrients than some sports recovery drinks. Beer is a suitable recovery drink for sweaty sports in particular, as it replaces fluid loss and restores the body’s micronutrient balance. The micronutrients found in beer were analysed at the University of Jyväskylä as part of a Master’s thesis. There has been very little research into the micronutrient content of beer in Finland, and even globally.
Beer contains an average of about 0.4 g of protein and 4.1 g of absorbable carbohydrates per 100 g. Although little protein is obtained from beer, its carbohydrate content is quite close to that of recovery drinks. The micronutrients in beers come from the water, yeast and grain. Climatic conditions, grain processing, and the brewing process all affect the final product’s micronutrient content.
The beers that were studied contained more potassium, magnesium, manganese and silicon than recovery drinks. There was more than the daily requirement of silicon, and over half the daily requirement of copper and chrome. The beers also contained a lot of phosphorus. Compared to recovery drinks, other micronutrients were found in the same or lesser quantities. Although the micronutrient contents of beer increased with its percentage volume of alcohol, there were also moderate concentrations in non-alcoholic beers.
“The micronutrient contents of beers were surprisingly high, and they performed better than expected against recovery drinks. There’s currently a lot of debate over the significance of protein and carbohydrates, but we should also remember that vitamins, micronutrients and fats are important for the body’s functions. Micronutrients control several processes required in sports and, along with vitamins, maintain the body’s functions,” says Juho Leikas, the author of the Master’s thesis.
The human body needs an estimated twenty or so different nutrients and micronutrients. A normal diet is sufficient for most active people, but increased amounts of exercise will require greater quantities of a variety of nutrients to achieve the best possible performance.
Studies that have analysed the effects of alcohol on recovery have generally used large quantities. There is little research into the effects of 1 or 2 units. However, according to these studies, beer may be even better than water at rehydrating the body after sports and exercise.
“Attempting to obtain your daily recommended requirements of micronutrients from beer is not a good idea. However, thanks to its micronutrients, beer exhibits a clear effect on hydration. One or two beers is the maximum recommended for recovery,” says Leikas.
The study analysed a range of 25 beers consisting of pale and dark lagers, wheat beers, ales, porters and stouts. Their alcohol content and preparation methods, and the type of grain used, varied. Three different recovery drinks were analysed as a control group. Micronutrient contents were determined using inductively coupled plasma/optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES).
Appendix: Juho Leikas’ Master’s thesis: Oluen hivenainepitoisuuksien analysointi (An analysis of the micronutrient content of beer) (in Finnish, pdf)
Juho Leikas, author of the Master’s thesis, tel. +358 (0)44 290 1995
Ari Väisänen, thesis supervisor, tel. +358 (0)40 8053719
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The Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry promotes the interests of producers of beer, cider, long drinks, soft drinks and mineral waters in Finland. Its members are Captol Invest Oy, Oy Hartwall Ab, Nokian Panimo Oy, Olvi Oyj, Red Bull Finland Oy, Saimaan Juomatehdas, and Oy Sinebrychoff Ab. The Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry operates in connection with the Finnish Food and Drink Industries Federation and represents Finland’s third largest industry in the food and drink branch in terms of the value of production.