If you’re trying to lose a couple pounds, but you also enjoy winding down with a couple beers at the end of the night- you may want to reconsider your drink of choice. We’ve all heard of the term “beer belly” and unfortunately beer does contribute heavily to a spare tire. The truth is, even moderately drinking beer increases your chance of weight gain.
We love beer. Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the United States, amounting to a whopping 85% of all alcoholic beverages being sold. Think you drink a lot? 24 million Americans consume 74 drinks per week on average. The stronger your beer is, the more weight you’re likely to gain from it.
A common misconception is that beer is the only alcoholic beverage that contributes to weight gain. But the truth is, every alcoholic drink works the same way regarding weight gain. On average, a beer contains about 150 calories. Surely, I can drink hard liquor instead. A shot of vodka contains a fraction of that…amirite? Actually a shot of vodka contains about 97 calories, and a shot of whiskey contains about 105 calories. At least a beer takes a while to drink, whereas with a shot of liquor you’re consuming those calories in a split second! The lesson- all alcoholic beverages contain a significant amount of calories, and it doesn’t matter which one you drink- if you’re trying to lose weight it’s all bad.
Anyway, back to our favorite alcoholic beverage- beer. How exactly does beer contribute to weight gain? Let’s take a look at 4 ways beer causes weight gain.
1. The Obvious- Beer Is Very Calorific
Calorific sounds like a fun word, like terrific! It isn’t. Unfortunately, on average beer contains 150-200 calories per pint. 2/3 of the calories come from alcohol, and 1/3 of the calories come from carbohydrates. The darker the beer, the higher it is in calories. So if you’re a craft beer fan you’re consuming about 200 calories per beer. You drink one beer while cooking dinner, another beer with your food, and a third beer with a movie afterwards. That’s 600 calories you just drank in conjunction with your dinner.
Two healthy, balanced meals can equal 600 calories- think about that. Add these calories to the rest of the meals you had that day and you’re probably way over the recommended amount.
2. Beer (Alcohol) Increases Your Appetite
Have you ever noticed after a couple of beers you’re ready to order some hot wings, pizza, and onion rings? Not only did you just drink a meal’s worth of calories, but now you’re hungrier than you would normally be. Alcohol increases appetite and decreases energy levels and metabolism. Studies show that the area in our brains responsible for eating is directly affected by ethanol? The more you drink, the more you’ll want to binge eat. Unfortunately, after a couple of beers you’re not exactly going to want to make a salad, or cook yourself a healthy meal. You’ll likely want something fast and greasy, thur contributing to even more calories.
3. Beer Inhibits Our Bodies From Burning Fat
When you drink, the ethanol oxidizes in the liver, and produces acetaldehyde. It is then metabolized into acetate. Your brain immediately tells your liver to deal with these two waste products, rather than focusing on burning fat. Simultaneously it starts producing fat from acetyl CoA, which is another waste product.
As you keep drinking, your body continues to inhibit the burning of fat. This pretty much means that all other foods you eat are going straight to storage, which adds on those pounds. The more beer you drink, the more fat you store.
Now, this doesn’t mean that if you’re trying to lose weight you must completely eliminate beer (and alcohol) from your diet. There are ways to lower your calorie intake while drinking beer. You may have to give up beers higher in alcohol content. If you stick to light beers you’ll be consuming less calories. You can also drink a glass of water after each beer to cut down your overall beer intake.
If you’re a beer fanatic, you may not like this advice but you can drink an alternative beverage, such as a cocktail. Try a cocktail with sugar free soda, 100% juice, and a small amount of alcohol. This type of drink has fewer calories and helps prevent excessive weight gain.
If you know you will be at an event where you will be consuming a lot of beer (or other alcoholic beverage) you can plan ahead and eat a healthy meal beforehand. This will prevent you from pigging out at the event after you’ve had a couple beers, since you’ll be full!
An ice cold refreshing beer doesn’t have to be totally off limits, in fact it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy an adult beverage every now and then. If you don’t want alcohol to contribute to unhealthy weight gain, then consume alcohol in moderation, and remember the aforementioned tips. Cheers!