Beer has calories. That is just a reality and I’m not going to sugarcoat it (more calories that way). This time of year, when everyone is feeling bloated from the holiday binge, there tends to be an uptick in gym memberships - and perhaps a drop in mug club memberships. I’m here to tell you that you can have your beer and stay (relatively) trim too, I am living proof!
Here are some tips for controlling the number of calories you drink when you drink beer.
Always know the alcohol content of your beer. This is important for a number of reasons, but in terms of nutrition, it is important because on the whole, more than 60 percent of the calories in a serving of beer come from the alcohol within. The higher the alcohol content of a beer, the more calories it will have. If you are just trying to be mindful and not exactly count every calorie, just shopping by alcohol content can be a good way to avoid high-calorie brews.
Pay attention to the beer style. Knowing the style of beer is important because the other driving factor in how many calories your suds contain is the amount of residual sugar remaining in the beer. There tent to be more of these sugars in beers that have a thick mouthfeel and that are described as sweet. Styles like Imperial Stout, Barleywine, Belgian tripel and even some Imperial IPAs can contain large amounts of unfermented sugars, thus driving the calorie count up. There is no real bar-top science you can do to figure out exactly how much of the calorie count is derived from sugar, but some larger-scale breweries do post calorie information about their brews online. If it’s a more local beer without that information available, you’ll just have to trust your instincts on this one.
Moderation. This one is kind of boring, but it’s tried and true. If you drink two beers instead of four, you have already halved your calorie intake! I know, I know, you want to have your Mexican cake stout and drink it too, but really being mindful of the amount consumed can help you keep that unwanted weight in the keg and off the belly. Look for smaller pour sizes or sampling flights to allow for variety without mass consumption. A four to eight oz. pour of some more full-bodied and full-flavored brews will often do the trick.
Water it down a bit. Not the beer, but you personally. It’s always a good idea to moderate your beer intake by also drinking water throughout the night, but the water can also help pace you and keep you from drinking beer simply because you’re thirsty. I have found that if I start with a glass of water, my first beer doesn't disappear quite as fast because the water quenched my thirst, and the beer can be enjoyed at a more leisurely pace.
If you really want to dig into this and figure out how many calories are in your beer, check out www.getdrunknotfat.com’s database of beer calorie information. You won’t find every beer in the world on there, but there is a great cross section of styles that will help give you a ballpark figure to work with.
So, enjoy the beers of 2017 while still more or less keeping the weight off. And remember that the best way to lose weight is to burn calories, so be sure to take part in as many pub crawls as possible. Prost!