Expert Q&A

Marathon training: Does drinking beer affect performance?

I am runner and am training for my first marathon. I enjoy drinking beer socially, but have been told I should give it up while training. Will drinking moderate amounts of beer during training affect my performance?

Some people justify alcohol consumption the night before an athletic event or training session by calling it a part of their carb-loading routine. Of course most people are saying this in jest, but some people actually believe it. However, the truth is that drinking alcohol can really hurt your athletic performance. It dehydrates you and interferes with normal blood sugar control. If you become dehydrated or hypoglycemic during an event, you are not likely to perform well. You might not even be able to finish. Although beer does contain some carbohydrates, it is a very poor source. Two-thirds of the calories in beer come from alcohol.

If you do drink beer while you are training, make sure to drink plenty of water. Eliminate alcohol altogether in the days leading up to a race, as well as before very long runs. Beer undermines your efforts to hydrate adequately.

For more information on preparing for a marathon run see the following article from TheDietChannel: Marathon Training & Nutrition: Fueling For Long Runs.

Erica Lesperance, RD, LD
Contributing Expert

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