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The Truth about low-carb beers

The Truth about low-carb beers

Are Low-Carb Beers Really The Answer To Drinking On A Diet? We Investigate

The low-carb craze is everywhere. Not only are diets taunting the fad, like Paleo and Atkins, increasing in popularity, but now supermarket aisles are loaded with low-carb options from breads to frozen dinners. With good reason, too. Reducing carbohydrate intake alone can help individuals reduce fat build up in the liver by up to 42 percent, according to one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

By definition, a low-carb diet ranges from 60 to 130 grams of high-quality carbohydrates (think high in fiber produce and whole grains) daily, according to the Mayo Clinic. In comparison, the recommended intake is between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA’s dietary guidelines.
By contrast, regular beers contain 145 calories and 11 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving on average, but these numbers can vary. For example, Heineken has 142 calories and 11 grams of carbs, Budweiser has 145 calories and 10.6 grams of carbs, and Corona Extra has 148 calories and 14 grams of carbs.

Now, even your favorite Sunday Funday beverage is taking note. That’s right: low-carb beers are popping up on liquor store shelves next to the classics. And while a low-carb sip may sound tempting, is it really worth putting down your Bud Heavy? And the real important question: How do they taste? Total marketing gimmick or worth the buzz: We dive in.

What’s the Difference Between a Low-Carb Beer and a Regular Brew?

Low-carb beers hold the promise of fewer calories, less carbs and, supposedly, no undesirable beer gut. Most regular beers average out at 145 calories and 11 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving. For example, Budweiser has 145 calories and 10.6 grams of carbs, Miller High Life has 143 calories and 13.1g of carbs, and Blue Moon has 171 calories and 13.7g of carbs. Low carb beers, on the other hand, sit around (or under!) the 100-calorie, 2 grams of carbs mark for a 12-ounce serving. Whereas Budweiser Select, their flagship low-carb option, has 55 calories and 1.9g carbs, Michelob Ultra has 95 calories and 2.6g carbs.

Is It Worth the Switch?

Depends what you’re drinking it for, says Anne Becerra, Beer Curator and Director of Treadwell Park. Plain and simple: Beer has carbs, and if that’s your one and only criteria for how you choose what to consume, then you should probably pick another beverage if you want to enjoy your sip.

“If you’re choosing to drink beer because of the amazing flavors and styles that are available, the key (as with anything) is balance,” says Becerra. “A full flavored, complex craft beer offers an experience — something that’s enjoyable and satisfying. When you really pay attention to what you’re drinking and savor each sip, generally you won’t need as much to feel fulfilled.”

Ask yourself: How long am I going to be drinking for, and what’s my mission here? If it’s Game Day and you know you’ll be sipping for hours, low-carb options will be better for your waistline. Since low carb and light beers aren’t offering the World Series of flavor, do yourself a favor and switch out for seltzer water every few. You’ll still get the satisfaction of a carbonated-sip, without the calories. However, Becerra wants you to try and reevaluate that marathon, beer slamming mentality.

“Slamming multiple ‘low-carb’ beers with little flavor may not bring you the same amount of enjoyment contribute that you’ll get from drinking one or two beers you genuinely love,” she cautions. “Instead, use a nice glass, notice the aromas, pay attention to flavor, pick beers you love and enjoy them.”

If you do plan on drinking for an extended period of time, think about switching away from beer altogether, suggests Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD and founder of Whole Body Reboot. “Wine is lower in carbs than beer,” he says. “Spirits such as whiskey and vodka contain zero carbs, but be careful for sweet drinks.

He also cautions about what alcohol in general does to the body. “When you’re drinking alcohol from any source, whether that be beer, wine, whisky, or vodka, your body (specifically, your liver) halts fat metabolism because it’s busy metabolizing the alcohol,” he says.