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Why the highest calorie beer may be your best bet for weight loss

Due to the nature of my job, I get a lot of questions about healthy eating, fitness, weight loss, and how these three things work together. Because my friends like a glass or two of Rosé at the end of a long day (and they know I do too), I am often asked if it is necessary, truly necessary, to give up alcohol to lose weight. Unfortunately, the answer is not so straightforward – at least for me.

While it’s true alcohol is no friend to your waistline – it’s just empty calories that can interfere with your metabolism – depriving yourself of things you enjoy is no way to live, in my opinion. Life should be pleasurable, and your weight-loss plan should not be about cutting out foods and fun, but about creating healthy habits you can keep for the rest of your life. You need to figure out how to enjoy yourself without going overboard.

This begs the questions, is beer or wine the better choice? Dietitian Stephanie Clarke of C&J Nutrition told me “to choose the one that you will enjoy most, and make sure you’re sticking to the right portion.”

I like both adult bevvies and have done a lot of soul searching on this choice, keeping portion control top of mind. I choose a bottle of beer; I choose the IPA – the flavorful, higher alcohol content, hoppy wonder that runs around 170 calories per bottle. (IPA, ales, and stouts are higher in calories and carbs than lagers and pilsners.)

It all comes down to this rationalization: if I choose beer, I will only have one bottle due to built-in portion control. Beer is awfully filling, IPA is high in alcohol so a second one will send me over the edge, and having a second beer just doesn’t seem to be living in moderation. With wine, once the bottle is uncorked, it’s ever so easy to top off a glass, pour a little more, have some while cooking, some with dinner, and little more after. That is just way too much wine and it’s way too easy to tipple. 

In my mind, a bottle of beer is finite – the drink is complete with the last sip of beer. With wine, I clearly don’t have strong boundaries. My strategy is to go big, and then go home . . . or rather, then start drinking water. Although this strategy works for me, your means to moderation might be different. If you’re still figuring out how to balance drinking with your healthy-living goals, I spoke with a couple of experts for additional strategies.

Beer

Registered dietitian Julie Upton believes you can dabble on occasion, but her tactics are a little more scientifically sound than mine. She told us it’s best to reach for a light beer (here’s a guide to our favorites in this category). Most bottles are around 100 calories, but she suggests to really keep the calorie count down, try an ultralight beer for about 60 calories per 12 ounces. I know Julie is the expert, but I would rather choose flavor over a lower calorie count – just sayin’.

To go even lighter, Julie suggests “blending a light or ultralight beer with Diet 7Up or diet ginger ale for a variation on the Shandy,” traditionally a mix of lemonade and ale popular in the UK. Stephanie reminded me that “the more alcohol in the beer, the more calories it is going to have per ounce,” which is why my dear IPA is so high in calories; so pay attention to alcohol content when selecting your brew. But if you love a porter, Stephanie said “surprisingly, Guinness is a low-calorie choice (about 125 per 12 ounces), so it’s a good option for someone who craves a more hearty tasting beer.”

Wine

When it comes to wine, Julie suggests a little bubbly because “Brut Natural and Extra Brut have the least sugar and fewest calories.” Stephanie suggests limiting yourself to one glass of whatever wine you choose, but you can extend your happy hour by making a spritzer: “half wine, half club soda so you can split your five ounces of wine into two drinks.”

You might be wondering why hard alcohol isn’t being discussed here. I’m not much of a cocktail drinker, being too lazy to mix one at home. Plus, cocktails are way to easy to drink quickly, which can mean ordering a second. And ordering a second is what I am trying to avoid, so I’m sticking with beer.

Slideshow: Beers With the Most (and Least) Calories (Courtesy: 24/7 Wall St.)

<p>Americans have always loved their beer. When the Pilgrims set out for the New World nearly 400 years ago, the hold of their ship, the Mayflower, was filled with barrels of beer. Even during Prohibition in the 1920’s and early 1930’s, America’s thirst for alcohol remained strong, funding bootlegging businesses and criminal organizations.</p><p>Today, drinking-age Americans consume an average of about 27 gallons of beer annually. According to a 2015 study commissioned by the Beer Institute, the U.S. beer industry adds $252.6 billion to the economy each year, about 1.5% of total gross domestic product. While beer consumption is certainly popular, the United States is also in the midst of an obesity epidemic, and many Americans may be unaware of the additional calories they consume with each beer.</p><p>Beer-drinking may play a role in adding inches to many American's waistlines, but some beers are far more calorie rich than others. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nutritional information of more than 200 of the country’s most popular beers to identify those with the most calories.</p><p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define moderate drinking as no more than two drinks a day for men, and one drink a day for women. For beer drinkers, what this means in terms of calories can vary dramatically, depending on the beer. Certain light beers, such as Heineken Light, contain as few as 99 calories. Two Sierra Nevada Stouts, on the other hand, contain 450 calories, equal to nearly a quarter of the FDA’s recommended 2,000 calorie daily diet.</p><p>While certain beers are especially high in calories, alcohol itself is almost as calorie rich as pure fat. Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, while fat has nine. In comparison, a gram of protein or carbohydrates have only four calories each. This means that while alcohol typically makes up a small share of a beer’s volume, it accounts for half or more of the calories received by the drinker.</p><p>Considering the caloric density of alcohol, it may not be surprising that the most calorie-rich beers are also high in alcohol content, while low-calorie beers tend to have a lower alcohol content. Of the six beers reviewed with at least 300 calories, all had greater than 8% alcohol content. Of the 18 beers reviewed with less than 100 calories, all had less than 5% alcohol content -- the amount of alcohol in a can of Budweiser or Coors.</p><p>Many of the highest calorie beers are also relatively sweet. While little to no sugar is added to most beers, eight of the 25 highest-calorie beers are fruit-flavored, which frequently means large amounts of added sugar.</p><p>To identify the beers with the most — and least — calories, 24/7 Wall St reviewed nutritional contents of over 200 beers from a range of sources, including the largest beer distributors in the U.S., news reports, and widely-cited industry observers on the web. Other beverages that are comparable to beer, including malt liquor, hard cider, hard soda, and non-alcoholic beer, were not considered. When available, calorie counts and alcohol by volume came from the brewer’s website. In cases where information on the beer maker’s site was incomplete, nutritional information came from CalorieKing, an online food and beverage nutritional content database. Beverages with no nutritional information listed on the manufacturer's site or CalorieKing were excluded. For similarly branded items of equal caloric value — Michelob ULTRA and Michelob ULTRA Pomegranate, for example — only one item was considered. All calorie counts are calculated to reflect a 12 oz. serving size.</p><p>These are the beers with the most calories.</p> Beers With the Most (and Least) Calories

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