I hate the question, “Is something good for you?” because most things we consume can be both good and bad for us. Drink the right amount of red wine, and it’s good for your heart; drink too much, and the excess alcohol outweighs the benefits. Eat a bit of dark chocolate, and again, you see benefits — but eat too much, and the sugar outweighs those gains. So, the easiest way to answer this question is: It depends. But let me try to get to the root of what you are actually asking.
If you are asking if you should be drinking non-alcoholic beer (NA beer) as opposed to water, the answer is no. Water is always the clear choice. (I’ll get into why as it relates to NA beer in a bit.)
If you are asking whether there are any benefits to drinking a non-alcoholic beer, the answer is yes, some of which you also find in alcoholic beer.
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The clearest benefit of non-alcoholic beer, and alcoholic beer as well, is its delivery of phenols. Diets rich in phenols tend to result in less inflammation and sickness, and beer contains about 50 different kinds of these amazing compounds. It’s this phenolic richness that resulted in so many athletes drinking non-alcoholic beer in the Olympic Village in 2018. They drank the NA version to get the benefit of the phenols, but also to prevent a hangover, and because the alcoholic version, while delivering the phenols, can also disrupt protein synthesis.
But beer makes you “go” more, and that means that while you are gaining the benefit of the phenols, if you drink too much beer (including non-alcoholic beer) you also could fail to hydrate properly. That’s why non-alcoholic beer is not a great recovery drink, despite the way some of these new NA beer brands are marketing themselves.
When it comes to recovery, your best bet is still to drink something like Gatorade, as these types of beverages replace the electrolytes you’ve lost without the risk of you expelling them by needing to head to the bathroom.
At the end of the day, though, for post-workout recovery, drinking non-alcoholic beer does seem to have some benefits — after all, German Olympians have won a lot of gold medals, and they drink a lot of non-alcoholic beer.