When the weather's hot, a frosty beer can be incredibly thirst-quenching, but does beer actually hydrate your body? Although a cold beer might slake your thirst, because beer contains alcohol, the answer isn't as straightforward as you might think. Alcohol is notorious for dehydrating the body, but not all types of alcohol have the same effect. So can beer help you to stay hydrated? Let's take a look.
It's a well-known fact that alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases urine production and output. You've probably experienced this yourself if you've had a few alcoholic beverages in quick succession and found yourself needing to head to the toilet. This can cause dehydration if you expel more liquids than you're taking in.
Most types of beer have lower alcohol by volume or ABV compared to other alcoholic beverages like wine or spirits. Beer with higher a higher percentage of ABV will dehydrate you more than those with lower levels. Regular beers around 3 to 5 percent ABV may help hydrate, according to one study, and that these lower alcoholic beers don't negatively affect hydration levels – when consumed in moderation, of course. One study had a look at how beer affects hydration levels post-exercise and found that a beer after a workout doesn't adversely affect the body's ability to rehydrate, nor cause further dehydration.
The takeaway? If you find you're craving an ice-cold brew to help you beat the heat, go for it! Just remember that moderation is key and that beers with lower levels of alcohol doesn't have the same potential to dehydrate you compared to wine, spirits, or even stronger types of beer.