Beyond TODAY is an extension of our weekly column for the TODAY Show food blog. Here we’ll look at the same subject from another angle, which will likely be far geekier. This edition is from the archives, all about the nutritional goodness in craft beer. Click here to see our latest TODAY Show post.
About a year ago, I ran across the work of Clyde Soles, who is a photographer, author, mountain climber and a fella who generally feasts on life. He has literally written the book on how to train to be your best at the grueling sport of mountain climbing.
A big part of this is nutrition – fueling your body for success. Many dedicated athletes are nuts about nutrition, as they only want to fill their body with the things that will help them achieve their goals. In his research on sports nutrition, Clyde came to a wonderful conclusion – craft beer is a terrific food source. In fact, based on Clyde’s findings, I’d say it’s better for you than drinking pasteurized milk.
Clyde spent a lot of time collecting nutritional information about beer. He has scoured the Interwebs, collecting bits of data from brewers and putting the puzzle pieces together.
Here’s an excerpt from his book, Climbing: Training for Peak Performance (2nd edition) that addresses the nutritional benefits of craft beer and the pitfalls of macrobrews:
The puritans assert that there is no value in the consumption of beer after a day of climbing. This defies a century of tradition and isn’t entirely true. Mass-produced “beer” that nutritionists and aficionados revile is made with rice, corn, coloring, flavorings, and enzymes. This insipid drink is the equivalent of white bread—bland and lacking most of the good nutrition. A 12-ounce can contains about 1 gram protein, 25 mg sodium, and only a trace of potassium or B vitamins.
But a finely crafted beer is only made with barley, wheat, hops, and water. This is akin to good whole-grain bread, better tasting and better for you. A good microbrew contains about 2.2 grams protein, 75 mg sodium, 195 mg potassium, and 5 to 15 percent of the DRI for riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and vitamin B-6. Plus the high hops content contains nine flavonoids that you won’t find in sport drinks. Even better, if you can find them, are cask-conditioned ales, which are unfiltered and naturally carbonated; rather like fine artisan bread pulled fresh from the oven.
Beer contains zero fat and zero cholesterol; moderate consumption may even raise your level of HDL (the good cholesterol). The typical 12-ounce serving of light beer has about 100 calories; a normal beer is around 150 calories; stouts run around 225 calories; and a triple bock or barley wine is upwards of 330 calories. Although two-thirds of the carbohydrates in a beer come from alcohol, which does not convert to glycogen, you still get about 12 grams of restorative carbs per bottle.
No, beer isn’t the ultimate recovery drink—but you could do worse. It’s the French fries and nachos that really get you into trouble. To offset the slight dehydrating effects of alcohol, it’s a good idea to consume one glass of water for each beer consumed.
Clyde told me that brewers are reluctant to point out the nutritional value of beer because of FDA and other agency regulations, so they typically keep mum on the subject. That’s too bad, because as you can see above, craft beer is so much better for you than the macrobrews. It’s the equivalent of Whole Foods versus fast food. It could be a great selling point against the big boys.
To be clear, I’m not saying to put down the Gatorade and crack open a can of Dale’s, but I am excited that a fitness expert like Clyde has taken the time to stick up for the nutritional goodness of craft beer. Especially when he’s preaching to audience that would probably prefer a sports shake to a cold bottle of Arrogant Bastard.
As far as my personal assertion that beer is better for you than milk, 2% milk does have four times the protein of craft beer and is a decent source of calcium, but it also has double the sodium, 8 grams of fat, 30mg of cholesterol, more calories, and comes from the breast of another species that is pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones. Eww. Skim milk is a bit better on the nutritionals, but it’s still from a captive critter and doesn’t stack up to craft beer. Your opinion may vary, but it’s my blog, so I win.
We all know that craft beer is a good thing. It tastes good, it’s made by good folks, and it makes you feel good after a hard day. Now, we can also say that craft beer is good source of nutrients. That’s pretty awesome news, especially for folks who love good beer and like to take care of themselves, too.
You can count Clyde in that group. Besides running, climbing and hiking all over nature on a regular basis, he loves IPA’s and thinks Guinness is a gift from God. I guess you can see what motivated his research.
I’d like to thank him for doing the legwork and allowing us to share the fruits of his labor here. For more of Clyde’s stuff, pop over to his website and check out his wonderful photo gallery and learn more about his writing.