How can I continue to drink beer and yet stay thin?
August 7, 2006 2:07 PM   Subscribe

How can I continue to drink beer and yet stay thin?

I'm a guy in my mid-thirties who loves beer. I'd drink a few every other day or so if I could but I've noticed that when I do the spare tire around my waste grows. If I lay off for a week it shrinks. Now, I'm not a fat guy and I'm actually fairly thin but that makes the spare tire that much more noticeable. I work out at the gym 2-4 days a week and regularly do cardio and crunches. I'm a healthy guy overall. Have I just hit the age where beer and my body don't mix anymore?
posted by photoslob to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I guess it would depend on the beer. 'Lite' beers usually have less calories/carbs, so the exercise may keep that in check. If you're drinking 'heavy' beers (think Guinness and the like), then you may just have to cut back. Spread the beer drinking out (maybe 1/day) and exercise more.
posted by triolus at 2:22 PM on August 7, 2006

Speaking as a personal trainer....

Say you have 2-3 beers a day; that's an extra 300-400 calories a day, an extra 2000-3000 calories a week. Each pound of weight translates to roughly 3500 calories, so a moderate drinking habit can mean almost a pound a week of excess weight.

So basically, either exercise more or eat less. Yeah, you probably wanted to hear something better.

Excess weight is basically consumption above what is expended. Fluids tend to kill the ratio for us because it doesn't fill us up like a meal, and we usually have them during random times of day (think akin to snacking--just as bad for you). It's not just beer, either. High-fructose corn syrup-tinged juices like apple juice and soda also fall under the same umbrella.

Enjoy your beer as a beer and never drink anything else other than water. And no more snacking. Never leave a meal so full that you can't move.

And stop worrying about can only control the size and specialization of the muscles, not the fat around your belly; you have genetics to thank for that. Otherwise, if you want to work your abs to distract from the fat around the belly, do some ab routines that require very few reps to reach exhaustion. Otherwise, you're only working the muscle's endurance, which can only do so much hiding beneath a layer of fat.
posted by Mach3avelli at 2:30 PM on August 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I should have noted that my downfall is microbrews - especially IPA's. I've found that the calorie difference between a regular beer and a light beer is fairly inconsequential.
posted by photoslob at 2:32 PM on August 7, 2006

Switch to scotch or good tequila. You can nurse a shot for hours.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:38 PM on August 7, 2006

Yeah I have this same issue. I am mostly taking the "work out more" solution than the "drink less beer" solution. I decided this morning to try to limit my beer drinking the the weekends, althought it's hard in summer.

Incidentally, triolus mentioned a common misconception - Guiness is actually a lower calorie (non-lite) beer. Here's a (kind of crappy) chart: Guiness is dark, not heavy. You can drink it all night.

And yeah, light beer sucks. Life is really too short.
posted by bradn at 2:45 PM on August 7, 2006

oops, link:
posted by bradn at 2:46 PM on August 7, 2006

Photoslob, I have a similar addiction (mmm, I heart Bell's Two Hearted). I took up a kickboxing class (2-3 times weekly) and drink a little more than before I started. In the almost two months since I started I have lost almost 10 pounds. It's worth nothing that I tend to have a smaller appetite when I exercise regularly. So, exercise is the answer for me.
posted by horseblind at 2:56 PM on August 7, 2006

Sam Adams low-carb beer is really quite good. The best lite beer I've had, and I've had 'em all. It is the only one I've ever tried that is a substitute for a microbrew. Pyramid used to make an Amber Light that was ok. Amstel light is third-best.
posted by vito90 at 3:10 PM on August 7, 2006

Today is the first day of my self-imposed "beeratorium", as I have surely gained 10 pounds in the last few months due to delicious IPA. I'm going for vodka for a few weeks to see what happens. I'll let ya know.
posted by tristeza at 3:23 PM on August 7, 2006

A great question and thanks for the link bradn. I would never have thought that Corona was more calorific than Guinness. Up the Irish, I say!
posted by ob at 3:30 PM on August 7, 2006

Guinness has less calories than other beer. I love beer too, especially in the summer. And even worse, for me it usually comes along with a lot of other things - unhealthy food, sitting on my arse all afternoon, going straight to bed. So I just try to make up for it with much more walking, eating clean and/or working out the day or two after. I've never heard of anyone having any success with other approaches.
posted by jamesonandwater at 3:30 PM on August 7, 2006

Response by poster: Does anyone know if there's any truth to the conventional wisdom of alcohol slowing down your metabolism or decreasing sugar breakdown? I swear that everytime I pick up a Men's Health there's something stating this in a really junk science sort of way.
posted by photoslob at 3:40 PM on August 7, 2006

discontinue eating food

(in perportion to the amount of beer your drink. Just count calores)
posted by delmoi at 4:14 PM on August 7, 2006

posted by The_Auditor at 4:43 PM on August 7, 2006

discontinue eating food

Seriously, drink your dinner.

I just finished a very stressful political canvasing job. Basically my coworkers and I would eat lunch and then canvas all evening (walking/running miles from house to house in the hot, promoting a candidate.) At the end of the evening most of us would hit the bar across the street from our HQ and drink ourselves silly. (The bar doesn't serve food, btw.)

We realized that we were drinking our dinner each night (I'd have 3-4 beers usually - sometimes more) and we were all getting thin too. (I lost about one pound per day!)

It really is calories in vs. calories out. And I'd much rather drink beer with friends in the evening than eat snacks or drink soda.

Granted switching out a meal for beers is not healthy - you may want to round it out with a multi-vitimin. But if you know that you're going to have a few beers in the evening then maybe consider having a very light and low calorie dinner or skip it all together.

The biggest dietary danger with beer is probably the fact that after a few ordering a pizza suddenly becomes a great idea. Next thing you know you've drank 1,000 calories in beer and scarfed down another 3,000 in nasty Domino's.
posted by wfrgms at 4:57 PM on August 7, 2006

Response by poster: I wish I could run but I have a lousy back and bad knee. I walk the tread mill and ride the recumbent bike like it's my job.
posted by photoslob at 5:32 PM on August 7, 2006

I walk two hours a day too and from work and the hit the gym for cardio and weights. This is my Beer Tax. I've discontinued all sugared sodas as well.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:18 PM on August 7, 2006

Jesus H. Christ! It's not bad enough that McEwan's Scotch Ale tastes terrible, but it's an ass-dragging 295 calories to boot! Ah, but I sound like a girl. Right, I'm off to pick up some lipstick.
posted by kookoobirdz at 6:29 PM on August 7, 2006

Ever considered switching to wine? Half the calories of beer, in bang-for-your-buck terms.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:17 PM on August 7, 2006

Have I just hit the age where beer and my body don't mix anymore?

Nope. More likely your body has stopped producing human growth hormone (typically, around 30). This changes your metabolism & means you cannot eat like a pig / drink like a fish like you used to without putting on weight.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:19 PM on August 7, 2006

>Never leave a meal so full that you can't move.

I would take this further, and say never leave a meal full. Don't eat until you are full. Eat until you aren't hungry any more, then stop. Restart when hungry.
posted by megatherium at 7:41 PM on August 7, 2006

Response by poster: kookoobirdz - my sister-in-law's VERY scotish mum mixes McEwans with a wee-bit of Sprite. tastes like ass and sprite to me.
posted by photoslob at 7:56 PM on August 7, 2006

A number of companies used to package 7 oz. bottles, including a long time favorite of mine, Schoenling's Little Kings. Even low end brands like Miller used to do significant business in 7 oz. packages. Now that I live in Florida, I don't see these size bottles much, but if you can find them where you live, you might try picking up an 8 pack of 7's, instead of a 6 pack of 12's next time you shop.

When I could get them, I found getting my tongue wet with a taste of cold beery goodness, and a nose full of hops smell and taste, was pretty much accomplished by a 7 oz. bottle, and every time it was, I saved the calories in another 5 oz.
posted by paulsc at 12:38 AM on August 8, 2006

Beer is bad for your waist as you get older, and it takes middle aged guys ( I'm not middle aged!) a couple of years to face the reality of their slower metabolism, by which time there is a spare tire.

Beer is the drink of hanging out with buddies in pubs, er, bars, but I gave it up, twice. Once this year. It simply makes me fat and doesn't do much for me. I drink mineral water (fizzy) for the placebo effect and a shot or some wine in place of beer for booze.

That doesn't mean I have given beer up entirely, only that it is no longer a food group. I've also managed to get down to about three or four Coca Colas a year. They really taste better when they get rare.
posted by zaelic at 1:49 AM on August 8, 2006

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