If there is one thing that you want to do after a long, busy and burdensome day at work it’s to get home or go out with friends and enjoy some cold, refreshing pints of beer after a long day.
However, drinking beer is unfortunately also commonly associated with a significant increase in body fat, especially around your waist. So does drinking really give you a beer belly?
What is beer made of?
We all love beer. But have you ever stopped to think what it’s made of and how it’s produced? Many of us probably haven’t given it much thought, so here is a quick overview:
Beer is an alcoholic drink made out of grain like barley or rye which has managed to ferment with yeast. It is usually flavored using hops which are just perfect for flavoring beer.
This is mainly due to the fact that their taste is particularly bitter which manages to balance out the sweetness which comes from the sugars found in the grain.
Of course, there are even more variations as some beers are spiced and flavored with herbs as well as different spices. Most beer lovers and connoisseurs, however, tend to gravitate towards the traditional types of beer instead of flavored ones.
The 5 step process for making beer
- Malting – this is when the grains are cracked. This happens after they are thoroughly heated and then dried out.
- Mashing – this is the process when the grains are actually soaked into water. This is when they are going to release their sugars and that’s going to result in a liquid that brewers refer to as “wort”.
- Boiling – the “wort” is afterwards boiled. This is also where you are going to add your hops in order to provide the beer with the flavor.
- Fermenting – you now add the yeast to this entire combination and the “wort” is actively fermented in order to form the alcohol as well as the carbon dioxide.
- Bottling – once all of the above is through, you have to bottle the beer and let it age.
The steps above are basically the entire process that beer goes through before it becomes the beverage that we all drink and love.
One thing to note, though, is that the strength of beer is going to depend on the overall amount of alcohol that it contains. This is measured using alcohol by volume. It refers to the amount of alcohol in 100-ml of drink and it is usually expressed as a percentage. The standard is between 4% and 6%.
Here’s a great video where Grant Wood, the Senior Brew Master at the Sam Adams brewery in Boston, explains the process of how beer is made:
What kind of nutrition does beer typically provide?
In about 355 ml (a regular beer bottle), you can expect 153 calories, 14 grams of alcohol, 13 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein and no fat. It also comes with a range of other different micronutrients such as magnesium and sodium.
One thing you should be well aware of is that beers which have higher alcohol content are also going to contain more calories. Most beers are also high in carbs and rather low on almost all of the other types of nutrients. This is something rather substantial that you need to be aware of.
Does drinking beer make you fat?
So now that you know pretty much how much nutrition (or lack thereof) you can find in a typical serving of beer, the question becomes: does drinking beer make you fat? Will you really get a beer belly from drinking beer?
Here are four important points to consider:
1. Beer significantly increases your calorie intake
Gram for gram, the truth is that beer has as many calories as any soft drink does. It has the potential to significantly increase your calorie intake.
There are certain studies which show that drinking alcohol is also capable of increasing your overall appetite in the short term.
This is something which is going to cause you to eat more than you’d normally do. That’s probably one of the reasons why you and your friends typically crave wings, pizza, and fries while chugging down a few pints at the bar.
This actually becomes a double whammy, because it has been shown that people don’t necessarily compensate for the calories that they actually consume from alcohol by not eating as much.
On the contrary, when you sit down for a beer, all that food you eat to complement it gives you a calorie double-header that you will need plenty of hours in the gym to burn off.
2. Beer can impair the burning of fat in your body
Another problem is that alcohol is also capable of preventing your body from burning the fat you have accumulated, whether from drinking and eating too much, a lack of exercise, or other reasons that contribute to fat gain such as stress.
This is mainly due to the fact that your body is going to start prioritizing breaking down the alcohol over the sources of fuel such as the stored fat – that’s definitely a concern to think about.
3. Beer contains phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are contained in the flowers of the hops which are used to flavor your beer. This could, in fact, introduce certain hormones which are capable of disrupting and altering the way your body stores fat by funneling more of it into your belly.
Large numbers of phytoestrogens are also one of the most common reasons for certain belly deformations, so this is something you should account for if you plan on being a regular beer drinker.
4. Beer contributes to the formation of visceral fat
Now, one of the critical things that you need to account for is that the fat which is stored in your belly, which scientists call visceral fat, is known to be the most dangerous type of all the fats in your body.
Visceral fat is metabolically active – this means that it is fully capable of interfering with your hormones and capable of altering the way your entire body behaves.
It is also going to increase the risk of certain diseases such as metabolic syndrome as well as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These are certainly things that you need to consider and account for.
The bottom line: drink beer in moderation
Taking care of your health is your own responsibility. This always requires certain sacrifices to be made. You should ensure that everything is handled properly and that you keep things within proper limits. Even if you are taking supplements that help with fat loss, your diet and lifestyle still play a very important role in your overall results.
As a result, our recommendation would be to drink beer in moderation. You’ve probably heard this message from the government plenty of times, telling you to drink moderately mostly so that you can stay safe and lessen the chances of drinking and driving.
Of course, just because this article has been all about whether or not beer makes you fat doesn’t mean that you can just go binge drinking on other types of alcohol like vodka or tequila! Here is an informative podcast episode on how alcohol in general can make you fat:
However, you also need to drink moderately for the sake of your own health. At the end of the day, when you go out to the bar, everybody wants to unwind and have fun.
Sometimes that means that, even if you plan on drinking only a single serving of beer, one thing can lead to another and by the time the night is over you will be so drunk that you might find your face firmly on the sidewalk because you can’t walk straight.
So when you think you’ve had enough to drink, just stay disciplined and say no. If your friends call you out for not drinking as much as they do, just stay focused on your own health and your future. Just because they’re doing it doesn’t mean that you have to.
In the short term, even if that means you “can’t have as much fun” (which is ridiculous, because there are plenty of ways to have fun without drinking a single sip of beer), your body will be better for it in the long term.
Constantly remind yourself that this is the only body you’ll ever get. There are no second chances, so why take the risk? You’ll be thinking yourself a genius five or ten years from now when your buddies are all walking around with beer bellies while you are lean, fit, and look half your age.
Keep drinking beer in moderation, and you’ll be reaping the benefits for the rest of your life – both in your waistline and your overall health and well-being.