Is your Beer Style packing on the pounds?


It doesn’t take a zymologist, one who studies the art of brewing, to appreciate the tremendous variety now available in craft brews. These lovingly hand wrought beverages can be light and fruity or thick and frothy which often leaves clues to their caloric density. While One Fat Tire ale is like eating 2 Oreos, a stout brew can have as many calories as a Starbucks Iced Carmel Macchiato, which has 330 calories to be exact. Toss back 2-3 of these beauties and you may grow a ‘spare tire’!

What’s a craft-beer-phile to do? Make healthier food choices and make sure alcohol represents no more than 10% of your calories. Above this, alcohol becomes a challenge for the body to process, first slowing your metabolism, and then going on to increase blood sugar, inflammation and cholesterol output. A few more fat cells are usually in that mix as well.

10% of 2000 calories = 200 calories from alcohol devised a handy calculator to estimate calories of your favorite brews. Just multiply the ABV of each beer by 2.5 to determine calories. Heavy brews like stout or barleywine have more residual sugar so multiply ABV by 3.3 for these brews.

                  Calories per Serving Size Barley or Stout
ABV 1 oz. 12 oz 22 oz 1 oz 12 oz
3.5% 8.75 105 192 11.6 139
6.5% 16.25 195 357 21.5 259
10% 25 300 550 35 400
15% 37.5 450 600 50 598

Here’s some fun facts about alcohol:

  • Is a disinhibitor: affects ability to regulate actions and decisions
  • Is an appetite stimulant
  • Impairs mitochondria from burning calories (glucose)
  • Sleep altering—fall asleep faster but wake up in the wee hours
  • Is an enhancer for various cancers

 Alcohol might be affecting your health when:

  • You have gained weight
  • Your glucose is elevated (fasting glucose or HbA1c)
  • Cholesterol, LDL-P, triglycerides or ApoB are elevated
  • You have high uric acid and/or elevated liver enzymes

As often happens, translating the research is not always what we see in clinical practice. The CDC recommends 1 drink or less per day for women, with no more than 7 drinks per week and 2 drinks or less per day for men, no more than 14 drinks per week. Yet in clinical practice, we often find that no alcohol or limiting alcohol to 1 drink a day, is what it takes to achieve your best health. Whether male or female, I recommend learning more about what you are drinking, and abstaining 2 to 3 days a week for better sleep, easier weight management and decreased inflammation.