Monday, July 23, 2012

The Ergogenic Effect of Nonalcoholic Beer Front- & Back Loading + 15 Beerish Health Facts Everyone Should Know

Image 1: Erdinger Weißbräu Alkoholfrei your first choice for peri workout isotonic carbohydrate supplementation!?
Where else, if not from Germany, "The Land of Beer and Weißwurst" as it is falsely perceived by the average foreign Oktoberfest visitor, could the data for a study on the ergogenic effects of nonalcoholic beer originate from? In their recently published paper Johannes Scherr and his colleageas from the Department of Prevention and Sports Medicine at the Klinikum rechts der Isar of the Univerisity of Munich report that a 'forntload + post-supplementation' strategy (3 weeks before, 2 weeks after) with 1-1.5l/day of Erdinger Weißbräu Alkoholfrei led to statistically significant reductions in post-race total blood leukocyte counts (-9%) and interleukin-6 (-24%) and 66% lower incidence of upper-respiratory tract infections in the 58 beer-drinking subjects (age: 36-51y), when compared to their 63 peers(age:35-49y) who received an isocaloric control beverage, which differed from the beer only in terms of its polyphenol content (Scherr. 2012).

It's not all about Erdinger Alkoholfrei  - 15 Beerish Health Facts You Should Know

In fact, the ergogenic effects Scherr et al. observed in their most recent study are probably nothing but one of the manifold downstream effects of the nutrient dense non-alcoholic fraction of 'amber nectar', which consists of a whole host of bioactive ingredients with at least as many, mostly beneficial health effects (the following is in part based on Sohrabvandi. 2010; where other references were used, additional references are provided):
How exactly is nonalcoholic beer produced?
  • Fermentation-free brewing and dilution procedures won't produce results European or US costumers will be happy with, therefore it is mostly used in Islamic countries
  • Alcohol removal by vacuum destillation, adsorptive alcohol removal, dialysis, reverse osmosis, or osmotic distillation
  • Restricted alcohol fermentation uses yeast that can only partially ferment the wort or represses or interrupts fermentation by applying different compositional and/or process procedures (interrupted fermentation technique)
  • Fermenting with GMO bacteria which lack the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzyme and produce no or minimal amonts of alcohol.
  • Reducing fermentable fractions / glucose content in wort by adjusting the concentration of sugar in the primary formulation so that no considerable sugar residue remains after the restricted fermentation period.
  • Heating or pressurizing the wort to inactivate yeast cells and inhibit the subsequent alcoholic fermentation, as soon as the desired flavor profile of the wort was achieved
Note: The beer in the study at hand was brewed under tightly controlled temperature (the exact method is apparently a company secret, though).
  • has potentially blood pressure lowering effect due to high potassium to sodium ratio (typically 4:1) 
  • is relatively rich in magnesium and to less extent in phosphorous
  • contains glutathione precursors and co-factors zinc, copper, selenium and amino acids
  • features physiologically active immuno-modulatory peptides and proteins
  • has 35+ phenolic compounds (about 80–90% from malt and 10–20% from hops)
  • may prevent and improve obesity and type-2 diabetes, improve lipid metabolism, and suppress atherosclerosis due to beneficial health effects of the bitter substances in hops (Kondo. 2004)
  • has been shown to improve sleep and lactation in women; probably due to bioactive molecules from hops (Koletzko. 2000; Franco. 2012)
  • contains folate and glycine betaine which exert antimutagenic effects and reduce homocysteine
  • has up to 6.2g fiber per liter
  • its β-pseudouridine content may protect against radiation damage (Monobe. 2003)
  • contains silicic acid which increases renal excretion of aluminum (Aluminum has been associated with age related diseases and neurodegeneration; cf. Krewski. 2007)
  • is associated with higher hip mineral density in older men who drink 2 regular beers/day; probably due to its silicon content (Tucker. 2009)
  • provides more antioxidants per day than wine to the U.S. diet (Vinson. 2003)
  • exerts anti-oxidative effects on lipoproteins (=cholesterol) which are superior to that of its vitamin & antioxidants, alone (Vinson. 2003)
  • unfortunately, allegedly gluten-free barley based beers contain significant amounts of hordein (=gluten) and are not suitabe for patients with celiac disease (Colgrave. 2012)
Now compare that to your average energy drink, which - as you should by now be aware of - may deliver zero fat calories and will still add 18g /day of body fat right to your frame, when consumed on a daily basis (cf. "Fat Content Per Energy Drink 0g, Body Fat Gain Per Energy Drink 18g!")
Image 2 (FOX): Homer always knew what Schütze et al. confirmed in 2009: "Beer consumption leads to [waist circumference] gain [...] closely related to overall weight gain. This study does not support the common belief of a site-specific effect of beer on the abdomen."
Implications: In view of the fact that carbohydrate supplementation is still common practice among endurance athletes, I don't see why a refreshing nonalcoholic beer (1.5l of Erdinger Weißbreu Alkoholfrei contain 375kcal and ~75g of carbohydrates)  that has been brewed according to the German purity law should not be at least as good as one of those sugar-laden electrolyte drinks or gels with artificial colorings and what not.

Moreover, the relatively high phenolic content of the beer (~400 mg of gallic acid equivalents per day), of which Scherr et al. speculate that it was the underyling reason for the observed benefits, could render the use of other polyphenolic supplements obsolete, save you money and keep you healthy and sane, as only few people are like me don't like the taste of beer and can thus sit in the Biergarten with nothing but plain water, while their friends hoist brew after brew... although, when I come to think about it: Maybe I should order some Erdinger later today? *rofl*

Note: The study was financed from a fund that was established by the Erdinger Weissbraeu, Werner Brombach GmbH. Contrary to some other researchers Scherr et al. do yet openly disclose the funding and state that "the funders had nodirect role in the study’s design, conduct, analysis, interpretation of data, and reporting" - and before you start lamenting, now, think about who finances and conducts the studies on pharmaceuticals...
  • Colgrave ML, Goswami H, Howitt CA, Tanner GJ. What is in a beer? Proteomic characterization and relative quantification of hordein (gluten) in beer. J Proteome Res. 2012 Jan 1;11(1):386-96.
  • Franco L, Sánchez C, Bravo R, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C, Romero E, Cubero J. The sedative effect of non-alcoholic beer in healthy female nurses. PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e37290. Epub 2012 Jul 18.
  • Koletzko B, Lehner F. Beer and breastfeeding. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2000;478:23-8. Review.
  • Kondo K. Beer and health: preventive effects of beer components on lifestyle-related diseases. Biofactors. 2004;22(1-4):303-10.
  • Krewski D, Yokel RA, Nieboer E, Borchelt D, Cohen J, Harry J, Kacew S, Lindsay J, Mahfouz AM, Rondeau V. Human health risk assessment for aluminium, aluminium oxide, and aluminium hydroxide. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2007;10 Suppl 1:1-269.
  • Monobe M, Arimoto-Kobayashi S, Ando K. Beta-pseudouridine, a beer component, reduces radiation-induced chromosome aberrations in human lymphocytes. Mutat Res. 2003 Jul 8;538(1-2):93-9.
  • Scherr J, Nieman DC, Schuster T, Habermann J, Rank M, Braun S, Pressler A, Wolfarth B, Halle M. Nonalcoholic beer reduces inflammation and incidence of respiratory tract illness. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Jan;44(1):18-26.
  • Schütze M, Schulz M, Steffen A, Bergmann MM, Kroke A, Lissner L, Boeing H. Beer consumption and the 'beer belly': scientific basis or common belief? Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Sep;63(9):1143-9. Epub 2009 Jun 24.
  • Sohrabvandi S, Mousavi SM, Razavi SH, Mortazavian AM, Rezaei K. Alcohol-free Beer: Methods of Production, Sensorial Defects, and Healthful Effects, Food Reviews International. 2010;26:4, 335-352
  • Tucker KL, Jugdaohsingh R, Powell JJ, Qiao N, Hannan MT, Sripanyakorn S, Cupples LA, Kiel DP. Effects of beer, wine, and liquor intakes on bone mineral density in older men and women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;89(4):1188-96.
  • Vinson JA, Mandarano M, Hirst M, Trevithick JR, Bose P. Phenol antioxidant quantity and quality in foods: beers and the effect of two types of beer on an animal model of atherosclerosis. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Aug 27;51(18):5528-33.