It’s safe to say that almost everyone has gone through the food and beer binge cycle where the drinks and the pounds keep on coming. And it comes as no surprise when we get up with a headache and a bloated belly the next day. Of course, the way to avoid the hangover and the excess weight gain is to enjoy your beer in moderation.
Moderate drinking can be defined as having a maximum of 4 alcoholic drinks for men and 3 for women in one day, or a maximum of 14 alcoholic drinks for men and 7 drinks for women in a week. This definition is from The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). However, 22% of men report that they go on drinking binges 5 times per month, with an average of 8 drinks in a binge, while 13% percent of women report binge drinking 3 times per month, with an average of 5 drinks in a binge.
This amount of alcohol can quickly lead to getting a bloated stomach, resulting in gaining excess weight. Whenever we consume alcohol, it puts a temporary stop on the fat burning process, because the body cannot store calories coming from alcohol the way it stores them when they come from food. Because of this, the metabolism puts a priority on getting rid of the alcohol first and anything we ate before drinking will be stored as fat. Alcohol consumption slows down fat burn around your stomach area, which is why you often hear about growing a “beer belly”.
Studies have shown that it takes a minimum of one hour for your liver to process a standard size drink, like 12 oz. beer, 6-oz. wine or 1.5 oz. hard liquor. This basically means that having a few drinks within an hour dramatically affects the body’s ability to burn fat. One study found that individuals who drank two cocktails (1-oz. of alcohol) experienced a 72% decrease in fat burn in the next 2 hours. Drinking large amounts of alcohol increase caloric intake and negatively affect fat burning in our bodies. That’s why, to have your beer and drink it too, even though you’re currently on a diet, just following these 5 tips will prevent you from gaining any extra weight.
1.Learn to differentiate between low-alcohol beer, light beer, and low-carb beer
“Light”, “low-alcohol” and “low-carb” all sound quite attractive for those who want to reduce the number of calories they usually get from ordinary beer. However, knowing the differences between these 3 types before ordering a light draft is very important. Light beer has been made to have a smaller alcohol content, to have fewer calories or both, while the “low-carb” option has been made by removing the carbs, while still possibly having the same percentage of alcohol. This is why a low-carb beer might have a similar number of calories as an ordinary beer. Light beers have a lower content of alcohol, but some people may drink more since it takes a higher amount to get buzzed. This may lead to drinkers ingesting more calories and more alcohol than they previously intended.
Additionally, light beers’ content varies by brand. As an example, Bud Light has 110 calories and 6.5 grams of carbs per 12-oz., and Coors Light has 103 calories and 5.5 grams of carbs. Light beers are made with a minimal amount of ingredients so that they could be labeled light, which in turn means why they have almost no nutritional value in them. On the other hand, Samuel Adams Boston has 2 grams of protein and 265 mg of potassium. If you’re a moderate beer drinker, then the light beer variation might be a good choice for you, if you’re on a diet.
2. Drink it slow and steady
Drinking your beer slowly is key to having it in moderation. The liver spends at least an hour processing a standard drink, which is why drinking one beer in less than an hour will slow down the body’s fat burning ability and make it store more fat tissue. The more slowly you consume any alcoholic drink, the more time you give the body to process/metabolize it. There are several studies which support this belief.
Scientists have found that moderate quantities of alcohol have several benefits for your heart’s health, but only if the amount of alcohol is spread evenly, having one or two drinks daily, instead of binging sporadically. It was found that having 1-3 drinks per day could lead to a decrease in the risk of developing heart diseases of up to 60%. However, the results varied in every study, meaning that this effect could be barely worth the benefits compared to the risks.
3. Drink water before, during and after alcohol
Having a glass of water for every glass of alcohol will help you with moderation and prevent or lessen the effects of a hangover. Alcohol is a natural diuretic, meaning it will cause dehydration. However, if you drink lots of water before drinking alcohol, you will feel less thirsty and you will drink more slowly. The rule should be drinking an equal amount of water for every drink of alcohol.
4. Pay attention to the shape of the glass
The way your beer glass is shaped apparently impacts your drinking behavior. One study found that drinking from straight-sided glasses significantly lowered alcohol intake compared to drinking from glasses that were curved. Additionally, when there were volume measurements marked on the glass, drinkers drank their beer more slowly; 10 minutes, as opposed to 9 minutes with glasses that had no marks.
This led scientists to conclude that those who pay attention to their drink portions and the size of their glass are more capable of monitoring their consumption. Presuming that a standard beer portion is approximately 12-oz, (~360 ml), you would ingest ~155 calories. An 8-oz. Glass would contain approximately 100 calories. The light beer variation would have even less, depending on how much alcohol it has, from 54 to 96 calories in 12-oz.
5. Eat more protein
Consuming protein before or even during drinking has the potential to reduce the amount of beer we drink in one sitting. Protein is very satiating and carries a thermogenic effect of 20-30%, meaning that 20-30% of the calories coming from protein are utilized while your body is processing them.
Eating a meal rich in protein before drinking will help you control the alcohol levels in your blood. Protein is also very effective when it comes to reducing alcohol absorption rate and raising its elimination rate. Meals rich in protein have the ability to stimulate your liver and delay the emptying of your bowels, thus decreasing the rate at which it enters the bloodstream to 40%. This means that a healthy meal can significantly reduce the potentially harmful effects of alcohol. You can get protein from chicken, steak, turkey, tuna, eggs and many other sources.