For years beer has been belly’s sworn enemy.
Depending on your choice of drink, those brewed liquid calories served at the bar could contain anywhere between 150 to 550 calories per pint (580 if you’re partial to a vintage cider). Which is why many nutritionists have traditionally insisted that alcohol and abs could never be friends. Thankfully studies now show that’s not strictly true.
So before you give up your beloved barstool, say an emotional goodbye to your favourite barmaid and take a vow of abstinence know that there is salvation. So sit back. Pour yourself a cold one and take a read of this science-backed article that will teach you how your beer and your belly can live in harmony once again.
But first thing first, let’s examine why beer became nutritionally blacklisted.
Why Does Beer Get Bad Press?
Beer contains between 2% to 12% alcohol. Considering alcohol comes a close second to dietary fat in terms of its calorie density — roughly 7 calories per gram — it’s not surprising the chubby finger of blame was pointed directly at beer for man’s expanding waistline.
But it gets worse for beer lovers. Way back in 1980 research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition declared that alcohol was a non-essential nutrient containing “empty calories”. Scientists claimed unlike protein, fats and carbohydrates your body has no nutritional need for that beer, wine or solo Sambuca.
As a result alcoholic drinks were vilified. Endless articles were printed that compared a glass of wine to several chocolate bars and alcohol suffered a slanderous PR campaign that it’s never quite recovered from.
Think Beyond Calories
Firstly, know that beer ― and alcohol ― comes in many forms.
From a foreign fine wine to locally brewed ale, each one will have a completely different nutritional impact on the body that’s far more interesting than just counting the calorie content on the label. Let’s take red wine as an example. Scientists have long known it contains the health-boosting compound known as resveratrol. A natural polyphenol the grapes (used to make the wine) produces when it feels under threat from fungus.
As a result, when you pour yourself a glass of the red stuff you’re also pouring yourself a glass of disease-fighting vitamins, minerals and micronutrients which scientists from the University of Illinois in Chicago believe has, “anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and antiviral properties.” All ailments associated with the aging process.
Take Caution On Cocktails
Another point that seems to have been ignored during the vilification of all alcoholic drinks is the role added ingredients have to play. To quote research from the Journal of American Medical Association, “Several studies have found an association between sugar-sweetened beverages and incidence of obesity.” So maybe it stands to reason we study sweetened cider and sugar-ridden cocktails role in the birth of the beer belly? Not simply scorn the entire wine rack.
Since a distilled spirit like a pure, refreshing gin can’t be held responsible for expanding our waistlines as those brightly-coloured, heavily-sweetened cocktails that come decorated with fruit to disguise them as being healthy.
Don’t Underestimate Enjoying Your Food
Firstly, very little research has been done around adherence and moderate alcohol consumption.
Sir Robert Scott Caywood famously once said, “Compromises are made for relationships…not wine”. Looking at research from the International Journal of Obesity he may have had a point too. This is because very little research has been done around our simple enjoyment of a given diet. Not arguing over the calorie content of last week’s burger or whether we can have that dessert this week or not, but just effortlessly adhering to it.
In a huge Meta study — a study of lots of studies — it was found there was no perfect diet. Instead they concluded, “Regardless of assigned diet, 12-month weight change was greater in the most adherent,” adding, “These results suggest that strategies to increase adherence may deserve more emphasis than the specific diet.”
Basically if a glass of red mine with your Sunday Roast or beer on a Friday evening after work helps you stick to a diet, then it could be doing more good than harm. Don’t underestimate simply enjoying your food.
In summary, the sole purpose of this article is to broadcast the lesser-known benefits of alcohol. To stop this mass vilification of all drinks. Finally, to present objective research that shows consuming certain alcoholic drinks in moderate amounts is actually ok. I must stress “moderate consumption” since as is obvious excessive intake has (not surprisingly) been linked to a whole list of health issues and in no way is this article making light of any of them. But that’s another article and many lengthy studies altogether.
This above 900 words merely serves to show within the vast field of alcohol research, there could be hope for your waistline and gym membership if you use the contents of your local bar wisely.