Staying in Shape and Drinking Beer – You Can Enjoy Both in the New Year!
It’s funny. People always ask me how I stay in shape while I “drink so much beer”.
I have to confess, I probably don’t drink half as much beer as it may appear from my social media posts. I like to share good beer, beer travel and beer experiences with my friends and followers, both in person and online, so most of my pics reflect this. However, drinking beer on a regular basis comes along with the job description when you are the CEO of a beer vacation company. And as someone who spent most of their youth out of shape, (yes, I was that kid that got picked last in gym class) I am motivated to keep myself healthy and fit. I spent years on the diet yo-yo and went up and down 20 pounds from high school all the way through my 20s. By the time I was 30 (and I’m not telling how long ago that was!) I finally figured it out:
- The number of calories that you take in must equal the amount burned off by your activities of daily living and/or exercise in order to maintain your weight. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more than you take in. If you consume more than you burn off, you will gain weight. Simple math.
- Dieting don’t work for most people, at least not in the long run. If you have a mindset that you are “going on a diet”, which many folks equates to depriving themselves to some degree, then you are likely planning to go off that diet at some point, which means reverting to your previous eating & exercise habits and potentially backsliding to your previous state. If instead of dieting, you choose to change your lifestyle to incorporate healthy options without giving up your own personal “dietary vices” i.e. beer, ice cream etc., then you can move forward toward your goals.
So, how do I drink beer(and eat chocolate and ice cream!) and stay in shape? By balancing my intake/output, keeping in mind that moderation is key.
The following guidelines will help you to make the transition to a fit lifestyle that incorporates beer.
- You don’t have to finish everything that is put in front of you. This is something to consider, i.e. if you are in Belgium where they like to present a full pour in the proper glassware, rather than offer tasters. It can be hard to resist, but if you are at a brewery and are being offered full pours as samples of 3 of their high ABV beers, you may want to consider sharing with a friend or just not finishing the whole thing, especially if you are heading out for more beer tasting afterwards. You may also just be at a local brewery in the US where you ordered a flight. You like three of the beers and don’t like the others. There is so much good beer all around us, life it too short to waste empty calories on beer, or any food or beverage you don’t like.
- Water is your friend. It is good to balance your beer drinking with your water intake
- Beer, or even treats such as chocolate, ice cream etc. needs to be accounted for in your daily/ weekly eating plan. To do so, you need to figure out the approximate calorie count in the beers or other treats you consume regularly, as well as what your daily calorie intake should be. (More on this below). The majority of your calories should come from healthy, nutritious foods. Beer and desserts should be a decidedly lower percentage of your daily calorie consumption. If you are having a beer or two, you may not want to have ice cream the same day.
- Keep Moving. There are plenty of exercise options and advice to be had all from all around. Nowadays, you can even join other beer lovers and combine your beer drinking with your fitness regimen. Yoga in Breweries and at beer events is so popular that it was written about in the Wall Street Journal. Beer marathons and beer running clubs are another way to burn up your beer fuel. There are bike & beer events as well. Some breweries even offer discounts if you ride your bike there. Of course, we all know that beer calories on Beercation don’t count! Well, okay, that is wishful thinking, but on our Bon Beer Voyage tours we often have walking tours in the cities we visit so we can burn off some of that great beer we consume!
Learning what the calorie counts are for the majority of foods you eat regularly is fairly easy. There are tons of apps, books and online info as well as articles on diets, what helps curb appetite, healthy recipes, etc. Most of us have learned or know where to find the basics about incorporating lean protein, “good carbs” and even healthy fats into your diet. So now all you need to know is how to figure out how the beer fits in.
Before you start looking at calories and workouts though, take a look at an estimated calorie intake chart like this one from the USDA https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_patterns/EstimatedCalorieNeedsPerDayTable.pdf
This will give you an idea what the average caloric intake should be for someone of your age, gender and activity level and will give you a baseline to work with.
As far as figuring out how many calories are in your beer, there are charts listing the calories on some beers out there, but a lot of them are for beers you do not likely drink if you are reading this blog. J If you are brewing your own and know the Original and Final Gravity there is a formula that will give you an exact calculation. However, if you are not brewing your own but merely a consumer, as long as you know the ABV, you will be close enough to determine approximately how much of your desired beer you can consume while keeping within your preferred daily or weekly caloric intake by using this formula:
%ABV x 2.5 = # of calories per oz. of beer.
Note: If you are drinking a beer with more residual sugars, then you should use 3 as your multiplier to get a closer estimate.
If you don’t feel like drinking and thinking, then instead of doing the calculations yourself, you can check out this nifty beer calorie calculator from Brew United: http://www.brewunited.com/beer_calorie_calculator.php
The trick is, to not replace your entire daily input with “empty” calories, but to eat well, using most of these calories to feed your body the nutrients it needs and then enjoy, in moderation, your beer. Don’t deprive yourself of things you enjoy, but just remember to be aware of how much you consume and how many calories this translates to. Then make sure to move enough to burn it off. (Put that Fit Bit to good use!)
To sum it all up: Eat. Drink. Move. Keep count and make it count.
And you, too, can literally have your cake and eat it too, or in this case have your beer drink it too.