Beer gets a bum rap. Sure, if you’re chugging swill like an undergrad week after week, you’re looking at an ugly weight gain, a gasping liver, and more carbs than any human should ever consume. But with a little responsibility—and the right brands in your cooler—knocking back a cold one or two is fine. In fact, some scientists believe that beer doubles as a fine recovery drink after a good workout.
According to Men’s Fitness, one or two beers will leave you with a stronger immune system and a lower risk of heart disease afterwards. And scientists agree that ingesting carbs in the hour right after a tough workout is essential for your muscles and your metabolism. (For what it’s worth: legend has it that Arnold Schwarzenegger used to leave the gym and knock back a pitcher of beer with a roast chicken.)
The key to drinking beer and staying healthy and fit is to keep your in-take moderate and keep your alcohol consumption on the lower end. (If you’re drinking more than that, off-set it with several glasses of water.)
With that in mind, we’ve compiled our favorite beers that double as great post-workout brews (excluding the always reliable Michelob Ultra), and we’ve ranked them here. So if you’re pounding the pavement or hitting the CrossFit Box this spring and summer, don’t be afraid to replenish yourself with one of these cold ones. And for more advice on indulging without consequences, here’s how to Eat Whatever You Want Without Gaining Weight.
This German beer is low in alcohol and calories and tastes better than many of it’s American counterparts.
Few things sound more mouth-watering than a smooth wheat beer brewed with an orange peel and boasting a sweet honey flavor, and this Blue Moon seasonal offers all that and more (without all the calories).
Brooklyn brewery drew its inspiration for this citrusy ale from traditional farmhouse ales, which farm workers would drink to refresh themselves after a hard day’s labor.
Peak brewing strives to use all local and organic ingredients in its products, and this dark malted ale is a testament to the brewery’s business ethos that a beer can be sustainably brewed and still taste great.
Sometimes you’ve gotta go authentic, and that means a big Belgian beer (it’s one of our Best Beer-Brewing Countries after all). This light blonde ale is beer delicacy that remains, at least by Belgian standards, mercifully low in alcohol.
Hailing from Oregon, this award-winning, all-malt lager offers a smooth and sweet flavor without bloating your gut.
This New Orleans favorite is made with raspberries to give it a special sweet, fruity flavor.
This brew boasts German-style hops, malt and yeast, and provides a smooth malty flavor.
A pale ale that can manage a hoppy, malty taste while remaining low on overall alcohol and calories is a rare and wonderful find.
A classic of American brewing, this rich and delicious lager is a tried-but-true beer that won’t set you back fitness wise.
If you’re health conscious but love the strong hoppy taste of an IPA, try out a session beer like this product from evil twin brewery, which gives you that same kick but is lighter on calories and hops than a traditional IPA.
This is one of the lower-calorie stouts out there, for those of you who (understandably) want that rich creamy flavor, and in this case a hint of coffee, without the consequences.
Named after you-know-who, this brew offers a wonderfully sweet, fruity taste that is much more palatable than reading poetry.
This is what’s called a Gose, a German-style beer with a little bit of fruit juice mixed in to cut the alcohol and add a healthy dose of refreshment. Thankfully, the Otra Vez is as low on calories as it is high on flavor.
A special session Wheat Ale from the Michigan-based Bell’s Brewery that offers a citrus and lemony aroma and is another great way to get your hops fix without actually drinking a lot of alcohol.
Definitely drink this one in moderation as it packs a lot more punch than most on this list, but it’s still relatively low in calories considering the amount of alcohol you get, and most importantly, it’s delicious. To make sure you’re drinking in moderation, here is a guide to What Your Boozing Habits Say About Your Health.
This brew from the popular Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing Company offers the smooth, easy-to-drink quality typically associated with wheat beer while still remaining fairly low in all of the harmful ingredients in beer.
Made in Kansas, this beer offers the traditional session blend of strong hoppy flavors with a touch of caramel malt and a low level of bitterness and alcohol content.
This Mississippi-prodcut was actually made from pecans, giving it a delicious nutty flavor.
A rich, delicious amber beer that is a staple in the Western U.S. but is slowly taking over the East Coast, as well. It’s sharp and tasty and fairly light on calories.
Another session, this beer is all hoppy, fruity flavor, without the guilt.
Flying Dog is one of the great microbreweries in the country, and this is their tastiest, hoppiest version that won’t strain your waistband.
Brewery Ommegang is based in upstate New York, but this beer is modeled after Belgian-style wheat ales for a smooth delicious taste.
This bull-bodied amber ale is relatively low on calories while offering a delicious hoppy and spicy flavor, although with a bit more alcohol then you may prefer after a workout. However, you may also want to check out this helpful video on how to drink alcohol without gaining weight.
This beer has an almost shockingly low amount of alcohol, but still offers a hoppy flavor with an added dash of citrus.
This creamy and coffee-tinged Irish brew is another good go-to option for those of you who are partial to stouts but still watching your calorie intake.
This lager boasts delicious dark, coffee flavors, but is still light on alcohol and carbs.
This Michigan-brewed session beer has little in the way of alcohol, and carbs, but a lot in terms of taste with its mixture of malts, grains, and hops.
Stone is one of the top IPA-brewers in the country, and their take on the session IPA offers a wonderful hoppy, piney taste.
It’s surprising, but true, given that drinking it can sometimes feel like you’re drinking maple syrup. But a good old-fashioned Guinness has everything you want: less calories, amazing taste, and a surprisingly low alcohol content. Best of all, it’s way cooler than ordering a Michelob Ultra.
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