We know beer isn’t exactly calorie-free — hello, phrases like “beer belly” and “beer gut” — but is it unrealistic to think we can stay healthy while drinking a liquor that’s used to describe a gut?
First, let’s get one thing straight. “Beer belly” is a misnomer, according to registered dietitian, food scientist and Master Brewers Association of the Americas beer steward Joy Dubost.
“The notion of the beer belly is not scientific. Beer doesn’t contribute any more caloric input than any other food or beverage item, ” she said.
If you’re drinking beer in moderation along with eating a healthy diet and leading an active lifestyle, a few cold ones aren’t going to give you a gut. And if you’re drinking beer and not feeing so great, the brews aren’t solely to blame for weight gain.
The second thing to note is a concept that applies to any food or drink: balance. You don’t have to decide between your brews and your body objectives. That’s why there’s a whole motion that combines brew drinking and fitness, which we’ll talk about later. But first, let’s talk about making informed decisions.
You need to understand how many calories are in beer
Two or three beers can go down easily in a sitting, and you can just as easily forget that one craft brew can pack as many calories as a small meal. Exactly how many? That’s often unclear.
Right now, brewers in the U.S. aren’t required to disclose their beers’ calorie count on labels.
Under increasing pressure for transparency, the Beer Institute — a trade group representing the likes of Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Heineken USA and Constellation Brands — unveiled a voluntary revealing initiative in July 2016. The breweries represented by the group( which produce about 80 percentage of the brew sold under the U.S .) have committed to listing nutritional information on their bottles by 2020.
Taking such measures, however, can be extremely costly and in many cases unrealistic for smaller breweries. Now that the FDA has constructed publishing calorie countings mandatory for food outlets with 20 or more locations, any brewery that wants its brews on those menus will have to comply.
As more information trickles out during this transition, we have at least enough facts to understand the calorie scopes of different beer styles. Lagers, pilsners and sometimes amber ales ring in lowest, with 100 to 150 calories per 12 -ounce serving. Those hazy India pale ales that are so popular have 200 to 400 calories in the same size serving. Something like a barrel-aged stout can pack a real punch: Just a 6-ounce pour of the Bruery’s barrel-aged imperial stout contains 500 calories.
Here’s where those calories come from
Why such significant differences in calories among styles? Let’s take things back to where calories in beer come from: protein, alcohol and carbohydrates, according to Mark Eurich, the technical committee chairwoman for the American Society of Brewing Chemists.
The bulk of these three components comes here the malted, typically made of barley or wheat. The malted starts as a starch, and during brewing its natural enzymes convert that starch to sugars. Added yeast then converts most of the sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol.