There’s nothing like a cold, refreshing beer. And luckily for devoted fans of the frothy liquid, the rising popularity of the beverage means there are more varieties to choose from than ever. Lagers, ales, and specialty beers abound. There are even low carb beers for people who want to watch their waistline. It’s a dream come true, right?
Not so fast. The simple truth is low carb beer is not discernibly healthier than regular beer. Nor is it likely to have a less of an impact on your waistline. The marketing, it seems, it a little misleading. So what gives?
The Truth Of Carbs In Beer
The truth, as always, is in the details. Contrary to popular belief, beer is not generally high in carbohydrates. Additionally, a recent study by the Cancer Council Victoria found that the difference in carbohydrates between low carb beers and regular beers is often negligible. And it may be a moot point, anyway. Because the carbs in beer aren’t the main culprit when it comes to weight gain. The true problem is the number of calories or alcohol in that glass of beer.
Approximately 80 percent of the calories in beer are derived from the alcohol. Only 15 percent come from the carbohydrates. And to make things worse, alcohol temporarily interferes with your body’s ability to burn fat. This means that whatever calories your body would normally be eliminating while you’re drinking a beer are stored for later. It’s a double whammy. Not only are you consuming empty calories that are eventually going to become fat, but you’re not burning the fat from that meal you ate earlier.
Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop there. It seems that alcohol has a particular affinity for your belly. So much so that it decreases fat burn there more than it does on any other region of the body. They call it a beer belly for a reason. For most of us, this is the place where we can least afford to pack on extra pounds when we look in the mirror. But more than that, it’s also one of the least healthy places to gain weight, potentially leading to a host of medical issues such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes in both men and women.
So, Does This Mean You Should Give Up Beer Altogether?
Of course not. If you enjoy beer, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy it while making sure it has less of an impact on your body. All of which are more effective than ineffective solutions like switching to low carb beer.
1. Drink In Moderation
Drinking in moderation is always the right thing to do, whether you’re talking about beer or any other kind of alcohol. No more than one drink on an average day will allow you to enjoy the benefits of drinking alcohol in moderation without counteracting them.
2. Don’t Drink Without Food
The calories in alcohol are empty. They have no nutritional value. Beyond that, alcohol wreaks havoc with your body’s blood sugar, causing it to spike and then crash. That crash is often accompanied by an overwhelming sensation of hunger. This risks putting you in a position where you’ll be inclined to satiate your appetite by binging on unhealthy food.
If you eat a healthy meal or a high protein snack with your beer, you’ll mitigate those spikes in blood sugar, which means you’ll be less likely to binge on unhealthy foods later.
3. Avoid Beers With A High Alcohol Count
If you’re a connoisseur of beer, chances are you know that the alcohol count can vary significantly from beer to beer. Many craft beers, in particular, are quite high in alcohol content. Remember there’s a direct correlation between the calories in beer and their alcohol content. Before you reach for that beer, ask about the alcohol count. Reaching for a pint with less alcohol will help preserve your waistline.
4. Stay Hydrated
On the occasions when you do decide to indulge in more than one beer, stay hydrated. A good rule of thumb is to be sure to have at least one glass of water for every beer you drink. How you consume that water is up to you. You can sip it side by side with your beer, or drink a glass of water in between rounds.
This will slow down your pace. Drinking your beer at a slower pace will help you imbibe less. It will also help keep you sober, which makes it easier to avoid binging on unhealthy foods later.
5. Pick The Right Glass
A University of Bristol study found there is a surprising relationship between the speed at which individuals drink beer and the shape of their glass. Participants in the study drank their beer from glasses with straight sides almost 60 percent slower than they did from glasses which were curved in shape. The researchers found that individuals had an easier time gaging the amount of liquid in straight shaped vessels, which would indicate that beer drinkers were instinctively pacing themselves.
Interestingly enough, the same study was done where participants drank soda instead of beer and there was no discernable difference in their drinking time.
6. Don’t Drink And Drive
This should probably go without saying, but any time you’re drinking outside the home you should always establish a safe transportation plan so you can relax and enjoy your evening.
Benefits Of Beer
If you’re a beer lover, there are plenty of reasons to find a healthy way to enjoy your favorite beverage without jeopardizing your health or gaining weight. Habit and taste are probably chief among them. But there are other reasons as well. There are a plethora of benefits to drinking beer in moderation.
- Although the nutrients contained in each individual beer are different depending on the ingredients it contains, most beers are rich in nutrients such as dietary silicon, B vitamins, and potassium.
- Drinking beer in moderation can potentially lower your body’s cholesterol levels according to a study by the American Heart Association. Moderation is the key word here. The same study found that not only did heavy drinkers not enjoy the same results, but that excessive drinking nearly eliminated any of the positive benefits associated with moderate beer drinking.
- Studies have shown that people who drink alcohol in moderation have significantly less risk of developing diabetes. It is worth noting, however, that these benefits apply to moderate alcohol in general and are not specifically tethered to beer.
- Hops, one of the main ingredients in beer, has anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation can lead to diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers.
- The dietary silicon in beer increases bone density which can help prevent diseases such as osteoporosis.
Find the right balance for you, and you can enjoy beer while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
In conclusion, beer in moderation is a pretty great beverage. And although the low carb versions won’t help you lose weight, there’s still plenty you can do to make sure an occasional pint or two won’t have an effect when you step on the scale. It mainly comes down to using common sense and being mindful of your beer and alcohol consumption.
So, make yourself comfortable and pop open an ice cold beer. It’s delicious and even has nutritious value. And besides that, you deserve it.