Could pedal-powered beer-drinking vehicles become the post-ride cool down zones of the future?
Editor’s Note: Freewheeling is the ongoing column of features editor Jason Sumner. From time to time, he uses this space to prattle on about all things cycling, be them interesting, innovative, inane or in this case, potentially amazing. If you have a comment or question, or just want to sound off, drop a note in the comments section below.
Imagine a post-ride beverage that both satisfied the needs of your body (sodium, electrolytes) and soothed the soul (beer). Sounds too good to be true. Well, maybe not.
A team of Australian scientists claim they’ve found a way to combine the re-hydrating properties of Gatorade-type drinks with the delectable adult beverage that the great Ben Franklin famously claimed was “proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
A report on News-Medical.net says that nutrition experts at Queensland’s Griffith Health Institute have successfully added electrolytes to beer in order to reduce its dehydration properties, meaning gulping a few frosty cold ones after a long, hot ride could actually be a good idea — and pose less hangover risk the next day.
“We basically manipulated the electrolyte levels of two commercial beers, one regular strength and one light beer and gave it to research subjects who’d just lost a significant amount of sweat by exercising,” associate professor Ben Desbrow from GHI’s Center for Health Practice Innovation told News-Medical.net. “We then used several measures to monitor the participant’s fluid recovery to the different beers.”
So can you improve the health qualities of beer by combing electrolytes and reducing alcohol? Desbrow claims the answer is a resounding yes.
To test out this potential wonder drink, the team of Down Under scientists had a group of people exercise strenuously (and thus sweat a lot), and then drink one of four beers: light beer, dark beer, electrolyte-infused light beer, electrolyte-infused dark beer. The goal was to consume 150 percent of the amount of lost body mass due to exercise, and do so within an one hour. Sounds like they got to pound a few beers after a hard ride.
“Of the four different beers the subjects consumed, our augmented light beer was by far the most well retained by the body, meaning it was the most effective at re-hydrating the subjects,” continued Desbrow in the News-Medical.net report. “The improved light beer was actually a third more effective at hydrating a person than normal beer.”
Of course being conscientious scientists, Desbrow and his team insist they don’t necessarily think binging after biking is a good idea. But they also understand that people are people.
“From our perspective it’s about exploring harm minimization approaches that may still allow people to potentially drink beer as a beverage but lower the risks associated with the alcohol consumption — and hopefully improve re-hydration potential.” he said. “But alcohol in a dehydrated body can have all sorts of repercussions, including decreased awareness of risk. So, if you’re going to live in the real world, you can either spend your time telling people what they shouldn’t do, or you can work on ways of reducing the danger of some of these socialized activities.”
If it’s approved by Saints, why can’t beer be part of one’s post-ride recovery routine?
Of course this leaves us with a few troubling questions. No. 1 is all this business about actually drinking light beer. I for one would rather gulp Gatorade than be caught dead with Michelob Ultra in my post-ride cooler. But if you can infuse Coors Light, why not do the same thing with, say, a bottle of delicious St. Bernardus Abt 12. It has an alcohol by volume of 10.5 percent, so pulling that down to the 6-8 percent range while swapping in some electrolytes could make for a perfect middle ground.
Alas, it’s also not clear what our Aussie scientist friends intend to do with this newfound knowledge. Right now it’s just a proof of concept and there are no plans to bring a new electro-brew to market. But if and when that does happen, it’s a safe bet that the two-wheeled world will provide a very captive audience. I know I’d buy some.