BeerDorks.com: Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

 
September 8, 2009

Beer Issues:

Drink To Your Health

Give up beer for your diet? Maybe you should give up your diet for beer.
by Jug Dunningan

Jug Dunningan is just here for the beer.
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Here’s a story you have probably heard before.
Sally (or Jimmy, no sexism here) decides she should lose a few pounds. Sally starts working out a couple times a week and decides to quit drinking craft beer because she wants to get rid of her “beer belly.”

Sally decides to start her day off with a caffeine jolt as many of us do. She stops at a random coffee house on the way to work and picks up a latte and a bagel. Now depending on how you like your morning latte, you can easily end up with 600-plus calories. That’s more than four medium-bodied craft beers. Worse yet is the form of the calories. On the upper end of the scale you can easily reach 50 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce latte. Sugar is highly glycemic. Basically this means it is digested very quickly and enters the bloodstream very quickly after consumption. With more sugar in the blood than can be used, Sally’s insulin will spike, and Sally’s body will work quickly to mediate her blood sugar by turning the sugars into fat and storing them away in her “beer” belly. Worst of all is the fact that since all the sugar was used or stored very soon after consumption, she will have low blood sugar a short time later and will become hungry again. This is a sugar rush and crash. Compare this to the low glycemic, complex carbs in beer.

Couple this with the 400 calorie chocolate chip bagel (76 grams of carbs, 10 percent daily value of saturated fat) smeared with another 200 calories of cream cheese and another 30 percent of her daily saturated fat and Sally is at 1,200 calories before she’s even finished your morning commute!

Now it’s midmorning and Sally’s body has stored away all the sugar she ate as fat and her blood sugar is low again and she crashes. Her body senses the low blood sugar and tells her brain she is hungry, so now it’s time for a snack. Sally grabs her ritual Krispy Kreme doughnut and wolfs it down to carry her until lunch time. Another 300 calories and 20 grams of sugar (see insulin spike above).

For lunch Sally heads to McDonald’s and grabs a Big Mac meal deal (540 calories for the burger, 500 more from the fries. Why bother counting fat and sugar at this point?) with a Diet Coke because she’s watching her weight! Sally is halfway through her day with 2,240 of her 1,500 calorie diet already ingested.

Now Sally is thinking about her diet again. So for her afternoon snack she scarfs down some carrots and celery sticks and she feels pretty damn good about herself because she avoided the Snickers bar in the vending machines.

Sally goes home to a nice spaghetti dinner, (with meatballs, of course) and a healthy glass of milk for another 800 calories. Then later she breaks out the Doritos (250 calories per serving. Do you realize how small a serving of Doritos is? Nobody eats just one serving.) while she watches Seinfeld reruns, but she skips the 150 calorie craft beer because she’s watching her weight and trimming the “beer” belly. In a rare moment of weakness Sally decides, “Oh what the Hell. I had carrots for my afternoon snack so hand me that IPA!”

The next time Sally steps on the scale she realizes her diet isn’t working. In fact she has gained weight. It must be that damn beer she had! It certainly wasn’t the other 4,000 calories.
OK, this was probably a bit of an extreme example, but the point remains. I often hear or read about how bad beer is for your diet if you’re trying to shed fat. The term “beer belly” is a myth. There is nothing about beer that will magically make it stick to your belly. Simply, if you ingest more calories of anything than you burn, your body will store it as your genetics decide.

I’ll concede beer has calories. I’ll even concede alcohol has “empty” calories, or calories without the benefit of minerals and vitamins, etc. I will not concede that beer alone will ruin your diet. If you are counting calories, you need to consider the calories in your beer just like the calories of any beverage, of course.

If you subscribe to the glycemic index, which I do, there are a lot of worse choices than beer—like juices. I’m not saying beer is healthier than juice, just that the high amount of fructose in juice will spike your insulin much faster than the complex carbs in beer.

Beer often unjustly gets a bad rap when it comes to weight control. The moral of the story here is, if you’re watching your weight use your head, but don’t be a Sally about it.

Some interesting beer calorie facts:

• Your body cannot store alcohol as fat. Your body will use alcohol as a fuel before carbs or fatty acids, though.
• Beer, or more accurately alcohol, lowers your blood sugar. This can make your body think it is hungry. Pretzels anyone?
• Beer is made of complex carbs. Most of the simple carbs in beer (maltose, sucrose, dextrose) are utilized by the yeast for fermentation. This would put beer very low on the glycemic index if it were really possible to test beer correctly. To measure a food’s glycemic index requires 50 grams of carbs to be consumed in 15 minutes at which point blood sugar is measured. This means over 3 average craft brews, or 5 macro swills in 15 minutes, which isn’t the kind of consumption we promote.
• Rarely can you find the calories on any craft beer, but often you can find the O.G. (original gravity). A craft beer’s calorie content can be estimated within 5 calories either way by using this formula: ((OG-1)*1000)*3.3, or more simply put, multiply the last 2 digits of the OG by 3.3. Example: If your hand-crafted IPA has a OG of 1.050 it has approximately 165 calories per 12 ounces (50*3.3).
• Beer averages 13 grams of alcohol per bottle. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram so that’s 91 calories from alcohol on average.

For the following examples we will use a medium bodied beer of 1.050 O.G. and 165 calories. This is definitely not a “light” beer just to make the following examples look good. Instead, this is your typical APA, heavier than a pilsner and most wheat beers but lighter in body than a bock or imperial stout. Also keep in mind that beer has no fat.

• There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. If every calorie from beer you consumed was stored as fat, you would need to consume more than 21 craft beers alone to make a pound of fat.
• One can of Slim Fast has 25 percent more calories than a craft beer.
• A foot long Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sub without cheese from Subway’s low fat menu is about 3.5 craft beers and has 9 grams more fat.
• An Awesome Blossom or Blooming Onion is equal to more than 16 craft beers.
• 12 ounces of apple or orange juice has the same calories as a craft beer.
• One king size Snickers is equivalent to more than 3 craft beers.
• One snack size bag of Doritos is equal to 1.5 craft beers.
• 6.5 ounces of champagne is equal to 12 ounces of craft beer.
• A 3.5-ounce margarita is equal to a 12-ounce craft beer.

Here are some activities that balance the calorie input of a craft beer:

• Having sex for 73 minutes, or drink 6 beers and have sex for 7 hours and 18 minutes.
• You can have 1.5 craft beers per hour bowling.
• Almost 3 craft beers while mowing the lawn for an hour.
• More than 3 beers an hour of moving furniture.
• You can drink 2.8 beers per hour of golf (walking, no carts!)
• You can have nearly 6 beers an hour while scaling cliffs. I’d love to see that!
• 23 beers an hour when having sex while moving furniture up a cliff face.

Here’s to your health!

Prosit!





Comments
GREAT column! All I would point out, is that "unfiltered" craft beer in particular is RICH is B-Vitamins (B1, B2, B6 & B12) and a number of minerals (selenium, chromium, copper). The yeast is also a good source of protien, so the "empty" calorie point is not necessarily completely valid!
The biggest crock is that the FDA will not allow beermakers to point out ANY healthful benefits of their products! In other words, the "Guinness is Good for You" slogan is not allowed on the packaging or any current ads - all the posters you see are older copy.
posted by rings | September 10, 2009, 11:29 AM
Valid point about the vitamins and minerals in unfiltered beer. It also contains some cholesterol absorbing soluble fiber. However I stated alcohol is a source of 'empty' calories, not beer itself.
posted by Jug | September 10, 2009, 9:08 PM
Re: vitamins and minerals in unfiltered beer. That means home brewed beer is the best damned thing you can drink in the world. Also it's good for you.
posted by EddieGlick | September 10, 2009, 10:36 PM
I've been saying this for years:

http://www.beerdorks.com/articles.php?article_id=17
posted by Baby-boy | September 12, 2009, 9:55 AM

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