We're not suggesting you bring beer with you to the gym. But when you get home from a sweaty workout, nothing tastes better than a cold brew. We all know this. And there's no reason to apologize for the craving.
"Look, beer gets a misnomer about giving you a beer belly. You could have a belly from anything," says Joy Dubost, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "People don't realize there actually are antioxidants present in beer, which come from the grains that were used to produce it." And yeah, beer has carbohydrates—but your body actually wants carbs for post-workout recovery.
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The catch is that beer's caloric payload can vary wildly—and often the high-calorie beers don't justify their numbers. You're looking for the sweet spot between enjoying a reward and wiping out all 53 minutes you spent suffering on the treadmill. So when you hit the corner store for that post-workout six-pack, consider this comparison:
The Worst Post-Workout Beer: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
There's nothing inherently wrong or even bad about Sam Adams. It's a nice smooth lager with a strong, hoppy finish. In airport bars and hotel lounges, it's usually the best bet in lieu of Rolling Rock or Heineken. But at 175 calories for a 12 oz. bottle, it's a caloric bomb. By the time you reach for your third, you'll have damn near drunk the equivalent of a Wendy's quarter pounder.
The Best Post-Workout Beer: Amstel Light
Weighing in at just 95 calories, Amstel has the same caloric value as Michelob Ultra, which for years has marketed itself as the active man's beer. And unlike so many other light beers out there, Amstel doesn't have that damp, frat-basement aftertaste. It's a crisp lager—somehow light without tasting Light. For extra refreshment, throw it in the freezer for 10 minutes before you crack it open. And don't worry when you find yourself reaching for another.