Is this one of those better bad ideas, or one of those bad good ideas? Australian researchers at Queensland’s Griffith Health Institute have made beer that’s not quite good for you, but at least doesn’t leave you as dry-mouthed as a goldfish escaped from the bowl after a night of heavy drinking. By adding electrolytes to commercial beer, they have found a way to reduce beer drinkers’ risk of dehydration.
First, the beer/bathroom connection: Beer is a known diuretic. That means when you drink a pint, you’re likely to urinate more than you would if you were drinking the same quantity of water. This often results in dehydration (especially if beer is the only thing you’re drinking), which can lead to confusion, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or at least worse hangover than you would have had otherwise.
In the Australian experiment, the results of which will be published in the forthcoming International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, seven male volunteers worked out on a stationary bike until they lost a good amount of water through sweat. Then, like a hazing ritual, researchers made their subjects drink 150% of what they had lost. Next to an unaltered light and regular beer, the researchers also provided their volunteers with two beers fortified with electrolytes. Urine samples and weight readings showed that drinkers of the light beer with electrolytes achieved “significantly enhanced net fluid balance,” meaning that they successfully avoided peeing out the body’s crucial H20.
To be clear, the researchers do not endorse chugging a pitcher after a workout.
“This is definitely not a good idea, but what we’ve found is that many people who sweat a lot, especially tradesmen, knock off work and have a beer; it’s pretty normal,” associate professor and researcher Ben Desbrow told News Medical. “But alcohol in a dehydrated body can have all sorts of repercussions, including decreased awareness of risk.”
Decreased awareness of risk means more likelihood of doing dumb things, so perhaps a beer that hydrates you better isn’t a terrible idea after all (unless you get a particular kick out of doing dumb things and then blaming it on the drunkenness). Huzzah. Still, there probably won’t be any ads of basketball players drenching themselves in optimized Coors Light any time soon.