How to drink beer without getting fat?

by Lifestyle

What’s the special diet that lets us drink alcohol without getting fat? Paleo diet? Gluten free? No magic beans here or wishful thinking, just the straight answer.

Does alcohol make you fat?

So the first question we all want to know is, does alcohol make you fat. We all want to cite some obscure research saying it ain’t so but the short answer is yes.

When you drink beer, wine, or what ever you like drinking, alcohol in your body is a rock star. Your liver creates acetate from the alcohol and dumps it into your blood stream. Our bodies use acetate for energy. Why is that bad? That means your body totally blows off the fat it already has, and uses the energy in alcohol. It prefers acetate over sugar and fat for energy!

Oh it doesn’t stop there either. It also blocks your ability to burn fat that is already there, temporarily. And when you drink, you typically consume 20% more calories than you think.

And to make it worse, any energy not used? Straight to the gut.

So what am I saying here? Do we need to give up alcohol? Whoa. Let’s not get too crazy here. We just need to be smarter about how we drink.

The secret formula

Well the first thought is you could blow out your liver with too much alcohol, and that stops the acetate production efficiency. Yeah. That’s a really bad idea. You need the liver.

No. If you really want to drink, and we really do, we need to pay attention to this formula, not diets. Diets don’t work. This is really the only way.

Input minus output must be less than or equal to zero. The number of calories in must be equal or less than the calories we burn.

We have something called our basal metabolic rate. That’s the number of calories we burn if we sit on our butt. If we consume that number or less, we won’t gain weight. Unfortunately it’s around 2000 calories. I’ve tried eating less than that to lose weight. It sucks and damn near impossible. At least for me. So we need to do exercise. I know, the universe hates us. Totally bites.

fermentarium-beer-exercise-fat-0I walk to lunch everyday, about 3 miles round trip. That’s 250 calories I get to add to my basal number! And that’s the first secret. Keep close records on how much you exercise, eat, and drink. I use an app on my phone that tracks food and steps. My phone is always with me, so it makes it easy to keep good records.

The next secret is pay attention to the amount of alcohol in your drink. For example a dubbel is going to pack far more calories than a lighter beer. So you can go for one dubbel, or maybe two light calorie ales. Notice I said light calorie ales. Don’t fall for the trap that dark beers are higher alcohol/calorie than light beers. It really comes down to the fermentables in the beer. A Belgian tripel is going to pack more calories than a low alcohol porter.

You can still go for the higher alcohol beers, but make sure you add to your exercise output. Gotta earn your beers. Thirty minutes sweating hard on a stair stepper will get you an extra beer or two. The stair stepper will usually get you between 400-500 calories, which is two good beers!

So the secret to drinking beer without gaining weight is to offset the beer calories with fewer calories elsewhere and regular exercise. And in the end, I say it’s worth it!

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Credits and Links

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DJ Spiess

DJ Spiess

Beer buddy

I live in Denver, Colorado. This blog is everything about beer, wine, cider, mead and other spirits.
I am a avid homebrewer and winemaker. I’ve been making my own beer and wine for many years. I started making beer when I was in college (mostly because the drinking age in the United States is 21). My first few beers were horrible. The beers are much better now, and I often supply my neighborhood with free beer! It is a great hobby! If you’re into computer programming, you might want to check out my programming site,