“Beer is liquid bread.” The age-old adage seems to make drinking our favorite beer synonymous with getting fat. According to T Nation 12 ounces of a typical beer contains 153 calories, a light beer on the other hand has about 103 calories. If one is not careful, these drinks and the habits they inspire can lead to significant weight gain. A simple change in a few drinking habits can still have the beers near while keeping the weight gain at bay. With Oktoberfest on the horizon, here are a few simple guidelines to keep from piling on the pounds:
1. Avoid binge drinking
This is a no brainer since anything in excess is something you want to stay away from in general health wise. Studies have shown that the body utilizes alcohol as energy first before drawing energy from other sources such as non-oxidized fat which is then “preferentially deposited in the abdominal area.” This can lead to what is called a “beer belly”. Of course, it’s great to let go once in a while, but just be wary that gaining pounds is one often overlooked consequence of binge drinking.
2. Avoid binge eating
Drinking is often blamed for gaining pounds when most of the time it is only half the problem. People often forget they are eating when they are drinking specially if they are having a good conversation or are otherwise distracted. The body is “fooled” into thinking it’s hungry. This leads to the next tip.
3. … Or binge on vegetables and protein rich food instead
Carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, asparagus and broccoli to name a few are great substitutes for the generally fatty and calorie rich foods that tend to go with beer, Just be careful that the sauce or dressing it comes with isn’t a hidden source of unwanted calories. Of course, this isn’t nearly as desirable or satisfying as snacks like chicken wings and pizza, however, most of the time, it’s the act of eating that the body thinks it wants, not the food. Protein rich food such as lean cuts of meat are also a great substitute for fatty fries or other popular beer snacks. Here is a guide that can help pair your BBQ to pair with the right beer.
4. Rotate in nonalcoholic or alcohol-free beer
As the name implies nonalcoholic or alcohol-free beer will contain minimal to no alcohol and therefore not bog down your metabolic system as pointed out in tip #1. Combine the simple fact that it has about a third of caloric content (averaging around 53 calories) of the standard beer and there’s a formula for success. It’s a good idea to work these into a beer rotation, not only to avoid excess alcohol, but also the carbs and unnecessary calories.
5. Pick your calories
If sticking to only light beers is affecting the enjoyment of drinking, an alternative could simply be to go for quality over quantity. Drink only one and savoring that great tasting heavier beer as opposed to drinking more of the lighter ones lacking taste could have very positive effects.
Take a look at these 10 beers from zero to high ABV and see how they stack up based on avoiding unwanted pounds.
Suntory All-Free: The world’s first zero-calorie non-alcoholic beer won a gold medal in the 2017 NY International Beer Competition. Something that feels like beer with none of the impact? Definitely worth trying! For other decent tasting malt beer substitutes, see my list of the best non-alcoholic drinks available. ABV 0.00%
Budweiser Select 55: True to its name at 55 calories still one of the better beers out there for your gut. The taste could well be an issue for most beer aficionados, but being able to put them away and not grow a beer belly will be its selling point. ABV 2.40%
Amstel Light: This classic is only 95 calories and is one of the better tasting light beers out there. Plus at 3.5% it’s technically a session beer.
Sam Adams Light: Hops rich with a nutty flavor, this beer is low on calories with satisfying flavor. This light lager is one of the better ones out there with only 119 calories. ABV 4.00%
Guinness: A favorite among dark Irish blends this creamy dark stout gives all the flavor at a low cost to your intake. At 126 calories Guinness really delivers. ABV 4.00% For a look at the new Irish wheat, watch our video.
Rip Van Winkle Mountain House Helles: This is delightful, medium bodied golden concoction is a silver award winner of the 2017 NYIBC. Brewed in the Munich Helles style of lager in the Catskills, it only comes in at 123 calories. ABV 4.11%
Porterhouse Brewing Company Red Ale: This caramel and fruity flavored beer is a 2017 NYIBC gold medal winner. A wonderful aroma paired with a beautiful red color at only 126 calories it could go well with a Porterhouse steak. ABV 4.20%
Badger State Brewing Co. Walloon Witbier: Another 2017 NYIBC gold medal winner in this creamy medium bodied brew. The banana and spice taste really come through in this traditional Belgian “white” beer at 156 calories. ABV 5.20%
Full Sail Session Black Premium Lager: This deep dark lager holds a slightly sweet chocolate and caramel taste. 183 calories puts this on the heavier side of the list but compensates with enough flavor for a gold medal in the 2017 NYIBC. ABV 5.40%
42 North Red Army Russian Imperial Stout: Despite its name this ale beer style is of British origin and tastes reminiscent of coffee. It also crushed out a silver at the 2017 NYIBC. Truly a heavyweight at 375 calories it packs a lot of flavor at a price, ABV 12.5%
Hopefully this guide keeps the beer in your hand but not in your belly fat. Good luck, great beers and responsible drinking, Cheers!