Sponsored by our partner, Athletic Brewing Company
When you put the pedal to the metal on training, your post-workout recovery regimen should take a front seat, in addition to your vigorous exercise and mindful sleep routine. Why? Because what you eat after your workout factors greatly into how efficiently your body rebuilds muscle and replenishes its energy stores. And, as tempting as it may be to crack a cold one (especially in hot summer temps after a long, sweaty trail run), try to steer clear.
Alcohol sets you back… way back. Even one drink can lower your immune function and delay healing, both of which are essential to your body’s ability to hit it again, ASAP. Plus, drinkers get hurt more often. True story. “The injury rate for drinkers is 54.8% versus non-drinkers at 23.5%,” says Jackie S Womble, MS, RDN, LDN, ACSM-EP.
The good news? Delicious, true-to-taste non-alcoholic craft brew is taking off like wildfire for athletes embracing the sober-curious lifestyle or dialing back on booze.
Gone are the days where you have to choke down bleh-tasting placebo brew from conglomerate brands. Instead, by making several tweaks to the natural craft process, breweries like Athletic Brewing Company are seriously stepping up the N/A game. Thanks to Athletic's thoughtful distillation process behind their N/A craft brew, you still get the same bold flavor, without running the risks of alcohol-induced setbacks. Plus, with extra carbs and electrolytes, N/A beer actually packs a myriad of health benefits to enhance your recovery process. “Since alcohol can decrease testosterone and growth hormone, as well as enzymes important for muscle growth, drinking a non-alcoholic beer can allow an athlete to get the most out of workouts and be better prepared for optimal recovery,” says Womble. “Non-alcoholic beer is usually higher in carbohydrates, which are necessary for optimal recovery as glycogen stores need to be replenished.”
As always, the key to proper nutrition is making sure you have the right combo of protein, healthy fat, carbs, electrolytes and vitamins/minerals, so you can maximize your recovery. Here, Womble shares her favorite après-workout snacks and N/A beer pairings by workout intensity, so you can kick back and enjoy the fruits of your labor — without headache or hangover.
3 N/A Beer + Post-Workout Recovery Snacks to Get Back in the Game
1. HEAVY WORKOUTS — Run Wild N/A IPA + Salted Nut-Butter Energy Balls
“Recovery snacks for a long-distance runner should be high in carbohydrates and protein,” says Womble. This supports epic healing and muscle rehab after LD workouts. She recommends opting for Greek yogurt with granola and berries, or this easy, DIY Salted Nut-Butter Energy Ball recipe she gives to high-volume training clients. Pair it with a bold N/A IPA, like Run Wild, which boasts a strong palette of five Northwest hops and sacrifices nada in flavor… enjoy the approachable bitterness and malty body at just 70 calories you can feel good about.
Salted Nut-Butter Energy Balls
- 1 c Old fashioned oats (quick cooking)
- ¼ c Ground flax seeds
- ½ c Almond butter
- ¼ c Honey
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp Maple syrup (optional)
- ¼ c mini dark chocolate chips
- Pinch of salt
Mix all ingredients together and form into 1-tbsp sized balls. Sprinkle the top with flakey sea salt. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and enjoy. (Note: best if stored in an air-tight container.)
2. MEDIUM WORKOUTS — N/A Cerveza Atletica + Scoops of Jerky, Cottage Cheese and Cherries
For a solid dose of carbs and protein that’ll help you rehab after a medium-intensity workout, Womble recommends cherries (an energy fruit which also promotes healthy pH balance), alongside beef jerky (rich in protein, zinc, iron and vitamin B12), and cottage cheese (for protein, calcium and blood-sugar regulation). Pair it with the medium-bodied N/A Cerveza Atletica — a refreshing Mexican Light Copper Lager made from a unique blend of Organic German Vienna and Munich malts. Think: the aroma and flavor of delicate bread crust balanced with light and spicy floral notes. Ooh, la la.
Mix-And-Match Protein-Powered Plate
- 1/3 c Dried tart cherries
- 2 oz Beef jerky
- ½ c Cottage cheese
Grab a plate, portion it out and chomp/slurp your heart out.
3. LIGHT WORKOUTS — N/A Upside Dawn Golden Ale + Fruit & Nuts
On lighter days where mobility and stability work is front and center, Womble recommends choosing a mix of fruit (watermelon, specifically, helps with carb replacement and hydration, she says), as well as pumpkin seeds (a good source of magnesium, which supports muscle recovery) and nuts (high in protein and healthy fats). Top it off with dark chocolate chips for a sweet little antioxidant boost and you’ll be set. Pair it with the N/A Upside Dawn Golden Ale, packed with light-bodied, balanced, refreshing floral and earthy undertones. A combination of organic malts from the US and Germany, and English and traditional American hops makes this a to-die-for take on a traditional golden ale. Plus, it’s gluten free. AROO.
Watermelon & High-Protein Nut Mix
- 1 c Fresh raspberries
- 1 c Watermelon
- 1/4 -1/2 c Mixture of pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts and dark chocolate chips
Portion out your fruit. Mix small handfuls of pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts and dark chocolate chips to equal about ¼-½ cup, total. Get creative with the ratios depending on how hungry you are and what your body craves in the moment. No wrong answers here.