03 Jun 2009 @ 9:16 AM 
 

Beer-Thirty at the Hydration Station

 

This is old news at best, but it’s summertime and I live in the South, so it feels relevant. I just ran across an article that was posted in a few news outlets a couple of years back that reported that beer might be better for you than water is after exercise. For whatever reason, it’s been pulled up recently RSS feeds onto Google news and is getting a new spin around the internet on blogs – especially fitness blogs – and even the blog over at DRAFT Mag.

The Science News Cycle from PhD Comics

The team sportsman in me isn’t surprised by this at all. I find that beer heightens the excitement after each win and alleviates the bad feeling after each loss. I find it also heightens the feeling of camaraderie between teammates. But… hydration?

Prof Garzon, who announced the results at a press conference in Granada beneath a banner declaring “Beer, Sport, Health”, said the hydration effect in those who drank beer was “slightly better”.

I’ll take slightly better in most things. Unfortunately, as much as I love science that says beer is good for you, I have to take the time to call this one into question. Here are as many details as I could dig up – though I have been unable to find an actual published article.

This experiment was done with an unnamed “Spanish lager” on 25 students. They were made to run on a treadmill to “the point of exhaustion” in 104F degree weather. At the end of the session half the students were given 2 pints of water and half were given 2 pints of beer. Those who were given beer were also given access to water.

(Side comment: Science journalism by mainstream media outlets really pisses me off.)

So, we don’t know anything about the students. They’re listed as “physically fit” but we don’t know age, weight, gender makeup, or anything. We don’t know what “the point of exhaustion” means, or how it varies from one student to another. We don’t know what type of beer it was, or what it was made of, alcohol content, or even carbohydrate or caloric content. We don’t know how much water they were given access to in addition to the beer, or if they all had some. We don’t even know the metric that was used to measure recovery rate. For all we know he bought a couple of twelve packs of the Spanish version of Bud Light (there must be one, right?) and gave half the people a couple of cans in addition to the water they were drinking then sat down after they each had a couple of beers and asked, “How do you feel?”

“Great, man! Thanks for the beer!” Except.. y’know.. in Spanish.

I propose a competing study:

I play volleyball outdoor in sand courts a couple of days per week. On the weekends, we often do it in the middle of the day. In the summertime, 104F can seem like a cool day. I invite some science-minded brewery to send me beer which I will then give to half of the people that I play with (which I will also have to partake of to make sure the beer is of.. ermm.. proper quality). In return, I will make sure that after each mid-day session in the hot sun, I will neglect to measure any real information on my participants, but I will give them all an easy questionnaire: “Do you feel awesome? Y/N” and together, after 2 or 3 months of this, we can publish a paper with guaranteed excellent results.

Who’s wants to donate to this worthy cause?

Tags Tags: , ,
Categories: news, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 03 Jun 2009 @ 10 28 AM

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Responses to this post » (3 Total)

 
  1. KJ says:

    This whole post is pretty hilarious, but I especially love the 2nd paragraph. Pseudo-scientific writing ftw!

  2. zy1125 says:

    I may not be able to donate. But I am more than willing to be part of a control group. We will drink the beer while watching but not playing in the match, and see if our results vary.

  3. erik says:

    Brilliant! Science at work!

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