Is Guinness good for gains?


Happy St Patrick’s Day!

St Paddy’s Day is here! That could well mean you skip leg day, don’t go on that 10k run or that you, in general, get a bit too into the fun and frivolities of the day.

Guinness is no doubt the go to drink today, with many trying it for the first time. But regular Guinness drinker or not, you may want to know how it will affect your general fitness.

So, we have put together a piece, to see if we can justify Guinness for gains?

A bit about the black stuff

Guinness has been available to drink for over 250 years. The original lease for the brewery was taken out in 1759 (and lasts 9000 years), and since that day, the drink has become more and more popular.

But it isn’t black. It’s actually a ruby red colour thanks to the roasted barley. This is one of the four ingredients, the others being water, hops and yeast. So it’s all natural, which is something you can’t always guarantee these days!

You’re sure to know that the famous Irish stout is known for being very thick. If, like myself, you enjoy a pint of Guinness from time to time, you will no doubt have heard someone say something along the lines of “eating already” etc etc. But can you call it a genuine mass gainer? Let’s take a look at the good Guinness stuff.

The Pros


Image source: Cheffins
Is it though?

Before we begin, it is good to note that Diageo, the company that distributes and owns Guinness, are keen to point out that they never make any health claims when it comes to their beverage.

But what health benefits could there be? It is believed that Guinness is high in antioxidants. These are chemicals that help to fight against what are called “Free Radicals” – these can cause damage to cells, meaning muscle damage and illness. Guinness isn’t a cure all, but the antioxidants will help.

Despite common misconceptions and the aforementioned talk of mass gainers, Guinness is in fact lower in calories when compared to other alcoholic beverages. In a standard 568ml pint, there are 210 calories; compare that to a pint of Foster’s Lager with 227 and you’ll see that though neither drink is really low on the calorie stakes, the former is no way near the worst in that regard.

What does give Guinness an edge over it’s alcoholic rivals, is the fact it feels so filling. Though the science behind the black stuff as a bulker may be false, the public belief is there. This means that if you are trying to stay in a calorie deficit, you have a drink that is (kind of) low in calories, and will keep you full if you nurse one or two over a night.

The cons


Post St Paddy’s Day

It’s alcoholic. This means you can get drunk, can have a hangover and all the stuff that goes with it.

Also, even if it is relatively low calories, those calories that it has are pretty useless. But what about iron I hear you cry? Well like spinach, this is a bit of a myth. A single pint contains less than 3% of your daily need of iron. This amounts to a mere 0.3mg.

You could argue that because it is a “heavy” drink, then the calories will be carb based; meaning it’s good for energy and for recovery. Though the latter may be true because of some sugars, there isn’t a lot of carbs in a pint. In fact, there are only 3.2g. Add in a mere 0.3g of protein and you haven’t exactly got a muscle builder on your hands have you?

Some “green” supps for St Patrick’s Day

So is Guinness good for gains?

In short, no not really. It isn’t a drink that is going to actively cause muscle damage, and it isn’t a drink that is going to work like a protein powder either. There are far worse drinks you could have, and they could cause damage to your diet plan. We’d say you are better off drinking one or two pints of Guinness than staying on Coca Cola.

Final word…

So whatever you drink this St Patrick’s day, drink in moderation. We’re not saying go out with a 5kg protein tub and keep topping up your drink, but at the same time, don’t go overboard. Have fun, stay safe and for every pint you have, why not treat yourself to a session on the squat rack?

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