You don’t have to be a nutrition guru to know that alcohol isn’t exactly health food. Drinking beer can lead to a bulging belly, one heck of a hangover and embarrassing stories from the night before — not to mention, in some cases, alcohol dependency.
Still, a cool pint of lager on a hot day can be oh-so refreshing, and put us in a good mood for a night of fun with friends. And medical research suggests that “moderate” drinking – one to two servings a day – can be good for you and your health. It’s when we drink more than that the issues can start.
If your concern is about weight management, your diet plan will dictate the type of beer you can consume, if you’re permitted to drink any alcohol at all. Here we break down various popular diets and their beer rules.
Remember: The best diet is not a diet at all, but a well-balanced lifestyle that emphasizes whole foods, regular exercise, and, perhaps, the occasional pint or two.
The diet: This weight-loss program is based around what cavemen would have eaten at the beginning of time. The diet then consists of meat, fish, vegetables and fruit; dairy, grains and processed foods are not permitted.
Beer strategy: Beer is made from grains, such as wheat, barley and hops. So technically speaking, it’s off the list if you’re on a Paleo diet. Even gluten-free beers can be problematic as rice is still considered a grain. Some Paleo enthusiasts recommend cider beers that are made from fruit or sorghum beer, which is made from an ancient grain. If you do cheat on your diet though, don’t stress. Stick with the moderate drinking recommendations.
- Bard’s Beer
- Guinness Extra Dry Stout
The diet: This is the original high-protein, low-carb diet. It’s has been scrutinized for its high-fat content, but the modern Atkins made up for that by encouraging healthier fats in the diet.
Beer strategy: Because this is a carb-counting diet and beer is loaded with carbohydrates – no protein if that’s what you were hoping for – regular beer isn’t Atkins-friendly. You’ll have to go for a low-carb or light option. A 12-ounce glass of regular beer, for example, contains 13 grams of carbohydrates, which is much too high for a beverage while on Atkins. The diet recommends you only have one beer.
- Michelob Ultra
The diet: This strict diet contains no animal ingredients or by-products. Similar to a vegetarian, vegans do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Unlike vegetarians, they also do not consume animal products and by-products, such as honey, eggs and dairy.
Beer strategy: Since beer is considered vegetarian, you wouldn’t think it would be made with animal products. Peta, however, does compile a list of ale companies that do not use animal ingredients and additives, or use animals as part of its processing.
- Red Rocket Pale Ale
The diet: This is a three-phase, low-carb diet plan, but unlike Atkins, you don’t have to count carbs (phew!). Some people with gluten sensitivities may feel better on this diet.
Beer strategy: : Essentially the diet proclaims that gluten-free beer could be an option, just not a good one. It is still too high in calories to work for the South Beach Diet.
- A glass of water. Sorry.
The diet: Another phase diet, the Dukan Diet has four parts. It starts with a food-elimination period then evolves into allowing certain foods back into the diet for the remaining phases. It’s a high-protein, low-carb diet that also includes daily doses of oat bran and exercise.
Beer strategy: : Alcohol is not permitted during the first phase, when “bad” foods are eliminated from the diet. In the other phases, if you do consume alcohol, then you have to pay for it with 20 minutes of walking for each alcoholic drink consumed within one to two hours after drinking. So you’ll want to consider calories and opt for a low-cal lager.
- Bud Light
- Sam Adams Light
The diet: This is a points-system diet, where foods are attributed a numeric value based on the protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber and calorie contents, and how hard the body will have to work to burn it off.
Beer strategy: The culprit for the high points on alcohol? The calories. According to Weight Watchers, a 12-ounce regular beer with five percent alcohol has five points, a 16-ounce draft has seven, a 12-ounce light beer has four, a 16-ounce light beer draft has five, and a 12-ounce non-alcoholic beer has two.
The diet: This diet is more about health, and any weight loss is a bonus. It’s meant to reduce the sodium levels and encourages a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure.
Beer strategy: When on the DASH diet, men are permitted to have two or less alcoholic drinks per day, whereas women are allowed one or less drink per day. One drink serving is considered 12 ounces of beer.
- Miller 64
The diet: Foods are either considered acidic or alkaline, and the point is to be more alkaline than acidic. Foods affect the pH of bodily fluids, including the saliva and blood, so the theory is that this diet can help prevent disease.
Beer strategy: In general, beer is high in sugars, which means it is acid-producing, so it shouldn’t be consumed regularly. Dr. Oz suggests, however, that draft beer is “neutral” on pH levels. The result then? Go for a pint.