Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The skinny on beer and resolutions

I can’t watch TV recently without seeing four to five commercials, back-to-back about weight loss. Jennifer Hudson is singing about her new body, Janet Jackson is touting her new plan and Marie Osmond is trying to read cue cards through her injected lips and tucked face while her before and after photos flash on the screen. Ok, we get it - thank you media.

Well, its 2012 and everybody is setting new fitness goals and looking to shed the extra holiday cookies they indulged in.

A friend of mine said the other day, “I think I am going to quit beer while I try to get into shape and just drink wine and hard alcohol.”

This got me thinking … why is beer the bad guy? The calories in beer come from the alcohol (ABV), so what is the bottom line? Do you really save calories drinking light beer that tastes like water or suffering through vodka and soda waters all night?

I started doing some research and it’s tough to find consistent figures. Calorie counts on alcohol seem to be all over the map. There is also the old standby that all alcohol is bad when you are starting a new diet regimen … blah, blah, blah. We don’t want to give up our social life, we want to live and be healthy. Besides, studies show that moderate alcohol intake can lower cholesterol, decrease stress, aging and chronic illness. I am aware that exercise and a balanced diet produce similar benefits so do both, everything in moderation right?

I pulled all of these figures from various sites on the net so take into consideration brands, flavors, and your pour. On average here is the side by side comparison:

Shot of vodka: 70-100 calories
Shot of whiskey: 80-100 calories
Shot of tequila: 80-100 calories
Shot of Bacardi: 95-110 calories
Glass of red/white wine: 100-135 calories
Light beer: 70-110 calories
“Regular” beer: 120-160

“Regular” beer and wine are pretty close in calories, as are light beers and hard alcohol. That is if you are drinking hard alcohol alone, without soda or juice.

By comparison if I went out and chose a Sam Adams Boston lager (160 calories) instead of a Bud Light (110 calories) I am consuming 50 additional calories. Food wise that is equal to two slices of pineapple or half an apple, something that takes about 10 minutes of walking/physical activity to burn off.

My problem is that when I drink a beer that tastes like water, it usually goes down like water. When I am drinking a delicious beer with body and flavor, I take my time and enjoy it. In short, I drink fewer good tasting beers and still get more alcohol in my system, (because regular beers have a higher ABV) it's a win-win.

Treat it like a treat, because it is.

If you are someone who regularly drinks beers with a higher than normal ABV (7% or higher) those calories will add up quicker. My friend Jen and fellow craft beer lover found a great post on Simplybeer.com that breaks down the calories of beer based on the ABV. This is really easy to use and remember. Click here to check it out.

That aside, when I do reach for a light beer here are my top 5 picks:

GUINNESS 120 cals
I love Guinness. People are often shocked that this is a low calorie beer because it’s so creamy and rich. Hands down a great beer to sip and savor without feeling like you are on a diet. I would rather have this than any dessert.

I am partial to Sammy lights because I live in Boston. It’s malty, caramel toasty flavor goes down smooth and easy but has enough gusto that is not made for guzzling.

Its marketing is better than the beer, “The beer drinkers light beer,” but it’s one of the top imported beers in the U.S. and has a better flavor than most light beers out there.

This is a beer that always finds its way into my cooler when I am heading to the beach. I can only drink it with a lime as the night goes on it tastes better.

COORS LIGHT 102 cals
Don’t judge! I know I am talking about Coors light on a craft beer blog. (My co-blogger is going to kill me) Call it nostalgia, but when I know it’s going to be a long night, I nod toward Coors. The Coors Brewing Company sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and some of the freshest waters are used in its brews. Also, who doesn’t want to know when their beer is SUPER COLD! 

In 2012 resolve to be happy and healthy, without giving up what you love – BEER!!
Cheers and Happy New Year!


toenee said...

Kicking off 2012 with a post that EVERYONE can take away something. Nice work, Kate. And NO, I won't kill you. Not at all in fact. While I don't condone the consumption of Coors Light, I will give it the nod when there's a macro beer comparison. SIMPLY BECAUSE, it is NOT an AB product. So if you are going to drink shwag, go with the Silver Bullet.

kayteestinch said...

Thanks cuzzin! Tap the Rockies :)

Toby said...

Nice one Kate! I have been trying to convince a co-worker of mine to try something other than Bud. He always uses the excuse: "$12 an 18 pack". Yeah, but you need to down 4 or 5 to get the same effect(ABV) you would on about two well-made craft beers. Not to mention the larger amount of flavors your palette gets to enjoy. Keep up the good work! Cheers!