“Beer is liquid bread.” The age-old adage seems to make drinking our favorite beer synonymous with getting fat. 12 ounces of a typical beer contains 153 calories, a light beer 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:
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 “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 be wary that gaining pounds is one often overlooked consequence of binge drinking.
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 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.
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. Be careful that the sauce or dressing it comes with isn’t a hidden source of unwanted calories. Of course, this isn’t as desirable or satisfying as snacks like chicken wings and pizza. But, 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 is 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.
Indulging in protein before or during drinking can help curb how many beers we drink in one sitting. Protein is a satiating macronutrient and has a thermic effect of food (TEF) of 20 to 30 percent, which means 20 to 30 percent of the calories in protein are used when the body’s processing it. A protein-rich meal before drinking will control blood alcohol levels.
Protein is effective in decreasing the absorption rate and increasing the elimination rate of alcohol. High-protein meals can stimulate the liver and delay gastric emptying, reducing alcohol entering the bloodstream to under 40 percent. This means a good meal can cut the potential damage of alcohol in half.
Good proteins include, turkey, grilled chicken, and tuna, among many others.
As the name implies nonalcoholic or alcohol-free beer will contain minimal to no alcohol. And so not bog down your metabolic system as pointed out in tip #1. Combine the simple fact that it has about a third of the 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.
If sticking to only light beers is affecting the enjoyment of drinking, an alternative could 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.
A drink of water for every drink of alcohol can help with moderation and preventing a hangover. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it will cause us to become dehydrated. But, if we drink plenty of water before drinking, this will keep us from feeling thirsty and prompt us to drink slowly.
Drinking beer slow and steady is integral to moderation. It takes at least an hour for the liver to process a standard drink, therefore, drinking one beer in under an hour will lead the body slow down its fat burning ability and store more fat in the body.
The more slowly you drink any alcoholic beverage, the more time you give your body to metabolize it.
A Canadian review also supports this belief: researchers found moderate volumes of alcohol do have heart-friendly benefits, but only if the volume is spread out evenly, with one or two drink a day, rather than sporadic binges. Specifically, an average of one to three drinks a day was tied to a reduction in the risk of heart-related disease and death as much as 60 percent. But, these results varied across different studies, which means beer’s heart-protective effect is borderline.