The adage "You can't have your cake and it too" applies well to dieting. If you could have the best of both worlds, you could drink all the beer you want and still lose weight. But the truth is, you shouldn't drink beer when you're trying to shed pounds. Beer is high in calories and provides little in the way of nutrition. No diet should be so strict that it doesn't leave a little wiggle room, however. By drinking beer only occasionally and being strict about avoiding other indulgences, you can have some beer and lose weight too.
Weight Loss 101
The basic idea of weight loss is simple: When you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. In actuality, weight loss is more complicated than that, but when it comes to planning a weight-loss diet and figuring out how many discretionary calories can be allocated to beer, that's all you need to know. If you're going to have beer and lose weight, you have to plan a diet that fills all your nutritional needs first. Then work in the alcohol so that it doesn't exceed your calorie budget for the day.
Choose Your Beer Wisely
All alcohol has 7 calories per gram, whether you drink beer, wine or spirits. Within each category, however, different varieties offer different calorie numbers per serving. When including alcohol in your diet, choose the lowest-calorie option possible. Light beers are lower in calories than regular beers. Craft beers, such as stouts and India pale ales, are going to be considerably higher in calories. For example, a 12-ounce serving of of light beer has 95 to 139 calories, while the same amount of an Imperial IPA has 260 to 360 calories. To save your waistline, stick to light beer. If you have to have your hoppy craft beer, drink only half as much to make up for the extra calories.
Choosing light beer is the first step, but then you have to moderate your intake. Guzzling a six pack of light beer is still going to cost you upwards of 600 calories. Aside from preventing weight gain, drinking moderately is much better for your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate alcohol intake is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink is 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of spirits or 12 ounces of beer.
Let Go of Other Indulgences
Drinking 12 ounces of lager is equivalent to eating a piece of chocolate cake. If you are going to lose weight while drinking beer, you have to give up other indulgences, as there simply isn't room for both. If one day your best friend is making her famous cheesecake and you know you're going to want a slice, plan to skip beer that day in favor of cake. Do not cut out calories from nutritious foods to make room for beer and cake.
Exercise is an important part of weight loss, as it helps you create a caloric deficit as you burn more calories. While increasing your exercise intensity and frequency is not a license to guzzle six packs, it will help you make more room for the occasional beer. Plan to get at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise most days of the week. Add in strength training to build lean muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism. Plan at least two full-body strength training sessions each week. Either lift weights, do body weight exercises or take a power yoga class.