A beer after playing a game of football, a long run, or a strenuous round of golf can be good for the body, scientists say.
In a rare piece of good news for those who like a pint, Spanish researchers say beer can help someone who is dehydrated retain liquid better than water.
Prof Manuel Garzon, of Granada University, also claimed the bubbles in beer help to quench the thirst and that its carbohydrate content can help to replace lost calories.
Prof Garzon asked a group of students to do strenuous exercise in temperatures of around 40ºC (104ºF). Half were given a pint of beer, while the others received the same volume of water.
Prof Garzon, who announced the results at a press conference in Granada beneath a banner declaring “Beer, Sport, Health”, said the hydration effect in those who drank beer was “slightly better”.
Juan Antonio Corbalan, a cardiologist who worked formerly with Real Madrid football players and Spain’s national basketball team, said beer had the perfect profile for re-hydration after sport.
He added that he had long recommended barley drinks to professional sportsmen after exercise.
Previous studies have shown most alcoholic drinks have a diuretic effect – meaning they increase the amount of liquid lost by the body through urination.
Dr James Betts, an expert on nutrition and metabolism at Bath University, said a moderate amount of beer might be just as good as water at helping the body retain liquid, but that he doubted it could be any better.
Dr Betts said: “If you are dehydrated to start with following exercise, a beer, as opposed to a spirit, probably does not have a high enough concentration of alcohol to induce a diuretic effect.”