It’s the 4th of July and you’re scrambling to get everything ready for the big BBQ. You’ve got the yard set up, the grill is ready, and it’s time to head to the supermarket to pickup some food and drinks. Everything is going smoothly until you get to the beer section of the store. Which one do you get? This problem gets even worse when you’re on a diet or have a clean eating lifestyle. With the average American drinking upwards of 21 gallons of beer per year, it’s important that we know what we are really getting.When stocking up for a BBQ, most people go for the default brews. Light beers with huge advertising budgets, such as Miller, Coors, and Budweiser, may have fewer calories and go down smoothly, but they might be worst for you than you think. In fact, blogger Vani Hari (foodbabe.com) has launched a petition requesting these massive beer manufacturers to release the ingredients used in their products. She claims (with credible evidence) that these beers use GMO corns, Propylene Glycol (used in airplane de-icing applications), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Fish Bladder, and other chemical compounds to get the taste of beer without using quality hops. This problem is compounded by the fact that the FDA doesn’t regulate beer companies; they are regulated by the US Treasury Department. (Since writing this post, Budweiser has responded with some minor details about two of their major beers. Check foodbabe.com for updates!)
So we know that the popular beers are not so great for you, but you still need more reasons to switch to micro brews? Let’s break this down into what I call the “Session Theory”. Let’s face it, nobody (almost nobody?) drinks just one beer. The Session Theory accounts for the calories, alcohol content, carbs, cost, and fluid ounces of beer consumed during an entire drinking session. This really helps to put things into perspective. For example, lets say you are out at a bar on a Friday night. A guy aged 21-30 is probably looking at around 4-9 light beers in one session. If that same guy is drinking quality micro brewed beer, he most likely will drink only 2-4 beers in that same time period. Let’s break this down:
|Light Beer (per beer)||Light Beer (per average session 4-9 beers)|
|Ounces: 12||Ounces: 48-108|
|Calories: 103||Calories: 412-927|
|Carbohydrates: 5g||Carbohydrates: 20-45g|
|Cost: $4||Cost: $16 – $58.50|
|Craft Beer (per beer)||Craft Beer (per average session 2-4 beers)|
|Ounces: 12||Ounces: 24-48|
|Calories: 156||Calories: 312-624|
|Carbohydrates: 12g||Carbohydrates: 24-48g|
|Cost: $6||Cost: $12 – $24|
As you can see, drinking craft beer can actually save you some unwanted calories! Plus there is much more alcohol in a craft beer than typical light (average; light: 4.1%, craft: 6.7%). Now let’s look at specific craft beers and see which ones are the best for you to drink!
Type: American Pale Ale (APA)
Alcohol Percentage: 5.60% ABV
Benefits: IPA’s or India Pale Ale’s, use more hops. While this results in higher calorie and carb counts, it also means a higher alcohol percentage and a higher level of Polyphenols (an antioxidant shown to reduce cholesterol and possibly fight cancer cells).
Type: American Pale Wheat Ale
Alcohol Percentage: 5.60% ABV
Benefits: Studies have shown that wheat beers can help distance runners and cyclers reduce muscle inflammation and respiratory issues.
Type: Irish Dry Stout
Alcohol Percentage: 4.20% ABV
Benefits: The University of Wisconsin did a study in which dogs with narrowed arteries were given Guinness stout beer. The results showed that a responsible amount of this beer might be just as effective as low dose aspirin in preventing heart clots and thus reducing the risks of heart attacks!
Type: American IPA
Alcohol Percentage: 4.70% ABV
Benefits: Did you know that drinking beer (1-2 per day) can help your bones? The silicon in beer has been shown to add a protective quality to your skeleton while stimulating your bone-building cells. In 2010, the University of California discovered that the highest levels of silicon are found in IPA beers. Drink up!
Type: Herbed / Spiced Beer
Alcohol Percentage: 4.50% ABV
Benefits: This brew contains ginger, which has a history of relieving gastrointestinal distress.
Type: Light Lager
Alcohol Percentage: 4.00% ABV
Benefits: Sam Adam’s Light is heavy on taste and hops, yet easy on the calories. If you’re trying to shed some pounds, but still enjoy a drink on the weekend, this might be the beer for you.
Type: Czech Pilsener
Alcohol Percentage: 4.80% ABV
Benefits: This beer made the list basically because it carries the quality of a hop filled micro brew without the calories. Enjoy two of these next to a bonfire and go to bed knowing you didn’t break the calorie bank.
Alcohol Percentage: 6.4%
Calories: 201 (22 ounces)
Carbohydrates: 1.9 grams
Benefits: This beer is brewed using only organic materials and is free of dangerous chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides.
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