Do Beer Calories Cause “Beer Belly”?


Beer calories are infamous for their effects on your belly. But, studies have shown that drinking beer is not the cause of a “beer belly”. The calories in beer are just like calories in other foods and drinks.

The problem is that people often drink beer excessively and/or irresponsibly. Drinking beer often involves eating snacks or fried foods which contain lots of fat.

And then there is the fact that alcohol consumption of any kind reduces the metabolization of other fats (those chips you ate with the beer).

Beer Calories-How Alcohol Affects You

Most of the beer alcohol you consume is absorbed into your blood quickly and heads straight for your liver where is converted to acetaldehyde which is then converted to acetate. Acetate is then used as fuel for your body.

That in and of itself isn’t bad, it’s the fact that the acetate is being used as fuel instead of your fat reserves, that is the problem.

There have been many studies done on alcohol’s effect on your body’s metabolism. One study showed that fat metabolism dropped by 73% for several hours after just two drinks and another study showed that a few drinks will reduce your fat loss for as long as four days.

So, not only does consuming the alcohol in beer put a stop to fat loss, guess what else is going on. The alcohol is also slashing your testosterone levels.

Just one night of heavy drinking can increase your body’s levels of a muscle-wasting hormone called cortisol and will increase the breakdown of testosterone for up to 24 hours.

And these effects on your testosterone levels are made worse if you exercise before drinking. The effects of alcohol on testosterone may be one reason why people who drink a lot usually have less muscle and more belly fat.

So what does this mean?  It means that it is the alcohol in beer that is playing havoc on your metabolism, not the beer calories…

Maltose and the “Beer Belly”

A picture of an animated beer belly.

Many believe that the calories in beer that come from maltose are the main culprit for their beer belly.

It is true, maltose is readily digested by your body and is quickly stored as fat. Several diet books have wrongly included beer as a primary source of dieting problems, claiming that the maltose in beer has a glycemic index of 110.  That’s 10 more than glucose, and that therefore beer has a glycemic index of 110 and is bad for you.  Claiming that beer calories are all from maltose is absurd. Beer is mostly water with some hop oils and a very small percentage of sugars, including maltose.

Most research today reveals that the “beer belly” is caused by overeating and lack of muscle tone. It’s just as easy for non-beer-drinkers who overeat and don’t exercise to get a “beer gut” as it is for beer drinkers.

Can Beer Calories Actually Be Good For You?

Can beer calories actually be good for you? Well, in the early days of brewing, beer was made by the monks to supply needed nutrients during fasting and was called liquid bread.

Beer is made from brewer’s yeast which is known to be a rich source of nutrients.

In fact, it is true that some beer calories can contain significant amounts of nutrients, including magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, and B vitamins. But, be aware that some sources claim that filtering beer removes many of these nutrients.

Some research about beer calories say that moderate intake of low alcohol beer provides strong anti-cancer benefits and intake of beer in general will provide cardiovascular benefits as well.

There is some research showing that it may be something in the beer besides the alcohol, but most research relates the benefits to the alcohol in beer.


What’s the conclusion of all this information about calories in beer? If you don’t exercise regularly, are genetically predisposed to be large (have big bones), or are getting on in years, you need to watch how much you drink (how many beer calories you ingest) and what you eat while you drink and for the next day or so afterward.

Use common sense when drinking. If you drink in excess, you will have to reduce calorie intake for a while and exercise to negate the effects of the beer calories in the alcohol.

It all comes down to moderation and focus. Keep your intake of beer calories moderate and focus on negating the effects with exercise and proper eating habits to stay slim.

Calories, Carbs, and Alcohol in Your Favorite Beers

Have you ever asked yourself, “how many calories are in a Bud Light”?  Or, what about regular Budweiser calories? Or how many calories are in a light beer, or how many calories are in a bottle of beer?  (You’ll have to be a little more specific than that…)

So how many beer calories and beer carbohydrates are in your favorite beer anyway.

Here is a table which shows some of the major brands along with their beer calories per 12 oz. serving and associated beer carbohydrates when available. Keep in mind that breweries may change these numbers by altering various aspects of their recipes, but the numbers will be very close to those published.

Amstel LightAmstel Light3.5955
AnchorAnchor Steam4.9152
AnchorLiberty Ale6.0188
AnchorAnchor Porter5.6205
AnchorOld Foghorn8-10
AnchorAnchor Small3.3
Anderson ValleyBoont Amber5.8
Anderson ValleyHop Ottin’7.0
Anderson ValleyPoleeko Gold5.5
Anderson ValleyBelk’s ESB6.8
Anderson ValleyBarney Flats Oatmeal5.7
Anderson ValleyWinter Solstice6.9
Anderson ValleyHigh Rollers Wheat5.3
Anderson ValleyDeep Enders Porter5.5
BeamishBeamish Stout3.8131
Bell’s/KalamazooTwo Hearted Ale7.0
Bell’s/KalamazooAmber Ale5.5
Bell’s/KalamazooPale Ale5.0
Bell’s/KalamazooKalamazoo Stout6.5
Bell’s/KalamazooDouble Cream Stout7.5
Bell’s/KalamazooThird Coast Old Ale10.2
Bell’s/KalamazooExpedition Stout10.0
Bell’s/KalamazooBest Brown Ale5.8
Bell’s/KalamazooCherry Stout8.0
Blue MoonBlue Moon White5.417112.9
BreckenridgeAvalanche Amber5.4
BreckenridgeAutumn Ale6.7
BreckenridgePale Ale5.7
BreckenridgeChristmas Ale7.4
BreckenridgeOatmeal Stout5.0
BreckenridgePandora’s Bock5.8
BridgePortBlack Strap Stout6.0
BridgePortBlue Heron4.9
BridgePortPintail Ale5.2
BridgePortEbenezer Ale6.4
BridgePortOld Knucklehead8.9
Budweiser (U.S)Budweiser5.014310.6
BudweiserBud Light4.2956.6
BudweiserBud Ice5.51488.9
BudweiserBud Ice Light4.11106.5
Budweiser BudvarBudvar5.0
Busch LightBusch Light4.21106.7
Busch IceBusch Ice5.917313
Colt 45Colt 45 Malt Liquor6.0172
CoorsCoors Original5.014811.3
CoorsCoors Light4.21025.0
CoorsCoors Extra Gold5.014710.7
CoorsCoors NA<0.57314.2
CoronaCorona Light4.51095
CoronaCorona Extra4.6148
DeschutesCascade Ale4.5140
DeschutesMirror Pond Pale5.3175
DeschutesBachelor ESB5.0180
DeschutesBlack Butte Porter5.2185
DeschutesQuail Springs IPA5.8200
DeschutesObsidian Stout6.7220
DeschutesBroken Top Bock7.0233
DeschutesPine Mountain Pils5.1154
DeschutesCinder Cone Red5.8180
Dos EquisDos Equis XX4.8145
Dragon StoutDragon Stout6.8220
Edison LightEdison Light4.01096.5
Foster’sFoster’s Lager5.1156
Fuller’sFuller’s ESB5.9
Fuller’sFuller’s London Pride4.7156
Genesee/High FallsGenesee 12 Horse4.815214
Genesee/High FallsGenny Light3.6965.5
Genesee/High FallsKipling Light Lager3.4998.0
Gordon BierschMärzen5.7
Gordon BierschBlonde Bock7.0
Gordon BierschPilsner5.3
GuinnessGuinness Draught4.012510
GuinnessForeign Extra Stout7.517614
Hamm’sHamm’s Light4.11107.3
HeinekenHeineken Light3.5996.8
Henry Weinhard’sWeinhard’s Amber Ale5.316914
Henry Weinhard’sWeinhard’s Dark4.815013.1
Henry Weinhard’sWeinhard’s Hefeweizen4.91289.2
Henry Weinhard’sPrivate Reserve4.51289.2
I.C. LightI.C. Light4.2952.8
IcehouseIcehouse 5.05.01328.7
IcehouseIcehouse 5.55.51499.8
J.W. DundeeHoney Brown4.515013.5
KeystoneKeystone Light4.21005.0
Kilarney’sKilarney’s Red Lager5.019722.8
LabattLabatt Blue5.0153
Marin BrewingMt. Tam Pale Ale5.0
Marin BrewingBluebeery Ale5.0
Marin BrewingAlbion Amber5.0
Marin BrewingMarin Weiss5.0
Marin BrewingPoint Reyes Porter6.0
Marin BrewingBreakout Stout6.0
Marin BrewingOld Dipsea Barleywine9.0
Marin BrewingIndia Pale Ale6.0
McMenaminsBlack Rabbit Porter5.5
McMenaminsDry Irish Stout4.6
MichelobMichelob Light4.31136.7
MichelobMichelob Amber Bock5.216615.0
MichelobMichelob Hefeweizen5.015211.8
MichelobMichelob Honey Lager4.917517.4
MichelobMichelob Black & Tan5.016815.8
MichelobMichelob Ultra4.2952.6
Mickey’sMickey’s Ice5.916511.8
MillerMiller Genuine Draft514313.1
MillerMiller Genuine Draft Lite4.21107
MillerMiller High Life5.515611
MillerMiller Lite4.2963.2
Murphy’sMurphy’s Irish Red5.0171
Murphy’sMurphy’s Stout4.0150
O’DoulsO’Douls Amber0.49018
Odell’s90 Shilling5.3
Odell’sEasy Street Wheat4.7
Odell’sCutthroat Porter4.5
Odell’sCutthroat Pale Ale5.1
Olde English 800Olde English 8005.916010.5
Olde English 800Olde English 800 Ice7.921614.3
Old MilwaukeeOld Milwaukee5.0156
PaulanerPaulaner Original Munich5.5
PaulanerPaulaner Hefe-Weizen5.5
Pete’s BrewingPete’s Wicked Ale5.317417.7
Pete’s BrewingPete’s Oktoberfest5.818916.9
Pete’s BrewingPete’s Summer Brew4.716315.6
Pete’s BrewingPete’s Winter Brew5.217015.2
Pete’s BrewingPete’s Helles Lager5.016314.6
Pete’s BrewingPete’s Red Rush5.317014.8
Pete’s BrewingPete’s Strawberry Blonde5.016013.6
Pilsner UrquellPilsner Uruqell4.3160
Pittsburgh BrewingI.C. Light4.1952.8
Pittsburgh BrewingIron City Lager4.514010
PyramidCoastline Pilsner5.0
PyramidApricot Ale5.1
PyramidIndia Pale Ale6.7
PyramidPale Ale5.1
PyramidCurve Ball Kölsch4.8
PyramidBroken Rake6.4
PyramidTilted Kilt6.3
PyramidSnow Cap Ale7.0
Red DogRed Dog5.014714.1
RedhookRedhook ESB5.817914.2
RedhookRedhook IPA6.518812.7
Redhook Blonde Ale5.416613.1
RedhookRedhook Hefe-weizen5.215510.9
RedhookRedhook Nut Brown5.618116
St. Pauli GirlSt. Pauli Girl4.9148
St. Pauli GirlSt. Pauli Girl Dark4.8150
St. Pauli GirlSt. Pauli Girl N.A.<0.59623
Sam AdamsSam Adams Light4.051249.7
Sam AdamsSam Adams Boston Lager4.8160
Sam AdamsSam Adams Golden Pilsner4.6145
Sam AdamsSam Adams Cream Stout4.7195
Sam AdamsSam Adams Boston Ale4.9160
Sam AdamsSam Adams Cherry Wheat5.2166
Sam AdamsSam Adams Spring Ale5.2170
Sam AdamsSam Adams Summer Ale5.4175
Sam AdamsSam Adams Pale Ale5.3145
Sam AdamsSam Adams Octoberfest5.7165
Sam AdamsSam Adams IPA5.9175
Sam AdamsSam Adams Winter Lager5.8190
Sam AdamsSam Adams Double Bock8.5240
Sam AdamsSam Adams Triple Bock17.5340
SapporoSapporo Reserve5.2
ShinerShiner Bock4.414312.5
ShinerShiner Light3.91209
Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada Pale Ale5.717114.1
Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada Porter5.719418.4
Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada Stout6.422522.3
Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada Wheat4.715313.1
Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada Summerfest4.915813.7
Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada Celebration6.621419.4
Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada Bigfoot9.933030.3
Stone BrewingArrogant Bastard Ale7.2
Stone BrewingStone Pale Ale5.4
Stone BrewingStone Smoked Porter5.9
Stone BrewingStone IPA6.9
Stone BrewingRuination IPA7.7
Stone BrewingDouble Bastard Ale10
Stone BrewingStone Old Guardian9.9
WidmerWidmer Hefeweizen4.7159
WidmerWidmer Pale Ale5.0
WidmerWidmer Blonde Ale4.3
WidmerWidmer Widberry4.6
WidmerWidmer Sommerbrä4.8
WidmerWidmer Oktoberfest5.0
WidmerWidmer Winternacht7.0
WidmerSpring Run IPA6.0
WidmerDrop Top Amber Ale4.9
YuenglingBlack & Tan4.5150-15514
YuenglingLight Lager3.6968.5


References: 1.) Siler, S.Q., Neese, R.A., & Hellerstein, M.K. (1999). De novo lipogenesis, lipid kinetics, and whole-body lipid balances in humans after acute alcohol consumption. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70, 928-936 2.) Valimaki, M.J., Harkonen, M., Eriksson, C.J., & Ylikahri, R.H. (1984). Sex hormones and adrenocortical steroids in men acutely intoxicated with ethanol. Alcohol, 1, 89-93 3.)
Beer from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 4.) Is there maltose in your beer? By Bob Skilnik 5.) Bamforth, C. W. (17 September–20, 2006). “Beer as liquid bread: Overlapping science.”. World Grains Summit 2006: Foods and Beverages. San Francisco, California, USA. 6.) “Non-alcoholic beer may help mice fight cancer”. Reuters. 2005-01-21. 7.) “Double benefit from alcohol-free beer”. Food Navigator. 2005-05-17. 8.) “Drink binges ’cause beer belly'”. BBC News. 28 November 2004. Retrieved on 2006-11-06

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