July 5, 2010 posted by

Milk Is For Babies. I Drink Beer.

Largo wasn’t too descriptive about his Workout From Hell fueling strategy. This matters little to me as I’d likely alter it anyway but it’s funny to read and no problem to post in its entirety:

Good balanced vitals, a basic multi-vitamin, plus a little extra C seems to do the trick. I also tried to drink a couple of light beers an evening for no apparent reason at all!

In block one I’ve altered this very little. Shakeology in place of the vitamins and striking the light from the beer is the extent my diet so far. Beer is worth some discussion at this point because comparing mass produced beer, even light, to microbrews is like comparing Wonderbread to homemade whole 9-grain.

Beer has a long history in fueling climbing performance. Inebriated pub banter has led to some of the boldest ascents of yore. I personally recall a few hazy evenings in Yosemite’s Mountain Room bar followed with my friends goading me to lead a pitch that I had no business trying because I’d boasted, a few pitchers into the previous night, that “it might not be too bad.” I doubt I’m alone when I say that some of my scariest leads came about due to beer.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. Nutritionally beer can be better than a lot of the junk we eat regularly. Mass produced beer, however, is the junk we eat regularly as it’s made from the same crap ingredients that fill most of what you find at the corner 7 Eleven and the middle isles of your local supermarket. Mass produced beer doesn’t even bother with traditional ingredients and, instead, is often fermented rice mixed with various by products of genetically modified corn and/or soy production. Microbrews (real ones, at least, as the big corporations sell imposters that still contain nothing but junk and are flavored by extracts) actually use various plants (barely, hops, etc) in a combination that has a decent nutritional profile and are loaded with phytonutrients. So when Arnold boasts “Milk is for babies. I drink beer,” in the classic film Pumping Iron, it was only veiled hyperbole. As a performance fuel, handmade beer is nutritionally superior for adults than mass produced pasteurized milk.

Beer aside, I generally don’t diet during the first block of an intense training program. You need to eat in order to fuel recovery and I generally eat fairly well. My goal in any volume phase is to fuel for recovery and not to worry about weight loss or any sort of body composition change. Over the course of the program I will make dietary changes in order to address it. If a program has a power phase, as the WFH does, I’ll generally do it then because power requires more rest, shorter sets, and burns fewer calories. For that I plan to dust off another chapter from the archives but that’s a topic for another time. Today we’re talkin’ about beer. And climbing.

If you hauled beer up here you’re crazier than I thought.

I may be crazy, amigo, but I’m not stupid. I didn’t haul it up here. You did. It’s in your pack.

pic: beer is such an iconic part of climbing that it’s used in ads, or at least is was in the pre-photoshop 80s.


  • Any thoughts on when the video for the stabilization training routine will be up?Thanks.

  • I'm not an alcohol person. But if I was, would I have to brew my own concoction out of my garage? this article is more about how to eat for training, rather than the beer part, right?

  • It's completely possible it's mainly an excuse to post some cool photos.

  • Um . . . I submit that Oly, though mass produced, is not Wonder Bread. It is wonderful, the modern-day bread of life, as it were.But, beer is for post-workout rehydrating – nothing less, nothing more. For truly rejuventaing the spirit, I recommend bourbon. And since the spirit is the most powerful muscle in the body, its health is top concern.-Josh

  • At the risk of sound "dorky" may I just say, I love this blog you write? I learn something from you almost everyday, you often make me laugh, make me think and you do post some really cool photos. Thanks for sharing, seriously.You rock. 😉

  • Since Oly isn't even brewed by Oly any longer its effects are now 100% spiritual (it's what in Clint's pack, after all). Of course now we're back to the spirit again and we all know what that can do for us. Caw. Caw.

  • I agree with just about every post you've put on the blog since I've been reading. I personally love great micro-brews but i think its hard sell to compare the nutritional value of beer to that of milk (be it mass produced or not) besides for containing easily digestible protein (aside from those who are lactose in tolerant, though most lactose intolerant people still can handle a glass of milk a day) it contains a shitload of vitamins and minerals where beer is lucky to contain some minerals and some B vitamins from the yeast and grains, though the alcohol in it blocks the absorption of a lot of these.Maybe there is something I'm missing?Like I said I love beer especially when climbing, but I don't trick myself into thinking it is a nutritional super food.

  • Anon,Whilst there is some tongue-in-cheek to the beer reference, there are a lot of reasons why beer is probably better for you than milk – especially if the milk is mass-produced from the agro-industrial complex of America. first, it's the milk from a cow. You, ostensibly, are a human. Why humans would drink the milk from the tit of another mammal seems odd to me. Second, the milk from industrial dairy farms only has substanital vitamins because it's been fortified. Finally, the industrial complex that raises cows for consumption in America does more to harm the health of citizens and our environment than can ever be offset by the nutritients in their products. This is even true of the "organic" mass producers like Horizon.Drink beer, you'll feel better, I promise. I should know. I'm a medical doctor. I own a mansion and a yacht.-Josh

  • Here's an excerpt from my book, Climbing: Training for Peak Performance (2nd edition):"Fermented Malt BeveragesThe 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."

  • Thanks, Clyde,I was going to cite your book on this. And if you do a search on cultural beer brews you can find some more great nutrient info. Then, of course, there's the recent Spanish study showing that beer out performed other things, including plain water, for hydration. As for pasteurizing milk, well, you can't shake a lobbyist without hitting a study showing why we should not be drinking it as adults or a American Dairy Council sponsored study showing how it's "essential". I think if it weren't for the ADC lobby it's quite possible health avocacy groups might label milk inedible (which goes for most of what's in our supermarkets as well). The longer this food tampering goes on the more I become convinced that history will show most food born illness problems are self induced.

  • To clarify, my point is, indeed, somewhat tongue in cheek but there is some solid evidence that there is health value in naturally-brewed beer while any value American milk may have is majorly disputed.

  • Hooray for beer! As a craft beer enthusiast and blogger and a P90x/Insanity devotee, it makes me happy to see someone else "gets it" when it comes to the benefits craft beer. I enjoy your blog, too, Steve. Always good info and good inspiration.

  • "Another oat soda Gary"Miller was good enough for the Dude. It's good enough for me.

  • The Dude was a lazy man. Quite possibly the laziest man in all of Los Angeles, which would put him in the running for laziest world wide.

  • So what do you recommend we drink? Are there any specific beer types or brands you can suggest?

  • I'm not being all that literal here and since the beer lobby (Big Beer) has made it so beer doesn't need to list its ingredients nor adheard to any European beer laws (very strict in the big beer countries) for ingredients and purity it's a safe bet than anything to do with any large compary (AB, Miller, Coors) is probably bad and the smaller the better. Most small brewing companies love to brag about what's in their beer so ask. Or you can head south to the Copper Canyon, ask what the Tarahumara put in their beer, and brew it yourself. That stuff is supposed to be like magic.

  • Posted elsewhere so I'm sticking it in the right place:Beer boosts bone health! Cool study on Muscular Development site that shows that dietary silicon in beer helps osteoporosis, H.A and strokes. Thought you might find it interesting. I guess arnold was right 😛 in terms of bone health I suppose.

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