Drinking beer has become synonymous with a beer belly; but is beer really fattening?
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In the minds of some people, drinking beer is a quick ticket to an unhealthy beer belly. Who hasn’t seen the photos of pudgy men with fifty inch waistlines happily clutching a can of cold brew? Although beer has certainly earned a reputation for packing on the inches, is it true that beer’s more likely to cause weight gain than other drinks? Is beer fattening?
As most nutritionists will tell you, calories are what count when it comes to weight gain. Take in more calories than you burn off and you’ll end up with extra padding, probably where you least want it. Most regular beers have calorie contents of around 140 or 150 calories, while light beers have about 100 to 110. Regular beer has about the same calorie content as a soft drink and a little less than a glass of whole milk or wine. Most regular beers have around ten to fourteen grams of carbs.
Although beer has less calories than a glass of milk and light beer has even fewer, the problem with beer when it comes to weight gain is that most people don’t stop with just one. If you’re drinking regular beer, by the time you’ve had three beers you’ve added 450 calories to your daily calorie load. All it takes is eight days of doing this to put on an extra pound. Combine this with the other non-alcoholic drinks you drink during the day such as soft drinks and you could easily go over your daily calorie limit with beverages alone.
Other reasons beer can cause weight gain
Another reason beer is fattening stems from the fact that most people snack when they’re drinking beer. Whether it be pretzels dipped in mustard, beer nuts, or pizza, those calories can add up quickly as the beer relaxes and disinhibits you. Unless you’re snacking on celery sticks and carrots, a night like this can be calorically challenging with very little nutritional value.
An interesting study
A study that was carried out by Swiss researchers and published in the New York Times showed that when men drink alcohol it seems to slow down the rate at which fat is metabolized by the body. In fact, the small group of men who participated in this study were found to burn a third fewer fat calories when they drank alcohol than when they didn’t.
Even more interesting is the fact that research conducted on women through a variety of larger studies showed that women who drink alcohol in moderation are less likely to gain weight and may even lose weight. It’s thought that at least in women alcohol may have a slight stimulatory effect on the metabolism. There’s also the possibility that women who drink moderately may eat less overall. Can this explain why you rarely see women with beer bellies?
Is beer fattening? The bottom line
Beer contains no more calories than a variety of other drinks including milk, although it has less nutritional value. The reason beer seems to produce beer bellies probably arises from the habits associated with beer drinking such as snacking and the fact that most people drink several beers in addition to the other calories they consume throughout the day. Sitting around drinking beer doesn’t burn many calories and you’re less likely to be inclined to exercise when you’re feeling mellow from alcohol. There’s also some evidence according to studies that men and women may respond to alcohol differently in terms of weight gain which is why men are more prone to beer bellies. The best approach, as always, is to practice moderation.