Talk to just about anyone about getting into shape and one of the first things they say is “Cut out beer! It’s nothing but empty calories, and all those carbs!” There are even jokes about doing “12 ounce curls” or having a “beer gut”. Well, imagine being a home brewer and owner of a craft beer pub while also being a personal trainer and fitness coach! What if I were to tell you that you can continue to enjoy great craft beer and still get in shape? *twists waxed mustachios*
I’ll just open up with the fact that I’ve been able to drop 11 pounds since January 1 while enjoying a cheat day every Monday and 2-3 beers every evening. So how have I been able to do what many “fitness gurus” deem is impossible? So if you can lose weight and get in shape while drinking beer, why do so many people have the dreaded beer gut?
Up until about 100 years ago, beer was a staple in most households, and still is in many countries. Though beer contains alcohol, most beers are less than 5% alcohol by volume. The majority of beer is water, with other ingredients including whole grains and fruit. The problem here in America is around World World 2, the majority of beer became brewed with corn. Corn doesn’t do anything for you nutritionally other than provide a ton of fiber (which is eliminated when it becomes beer) and some vitamins like Vitamin C. The main issue with losing weight and drinking beer is that your body will burn off alcohol before turning to fat. So for every drink you have, your body switches gears to burn off the excess alcohol and puts a pause on burning fat. This really becomes a problem if you’ve consumed a 6-pack or more in a day. But, one to two beers over the course of a day? Ha, not a problem for that incredible machine you call a body.
I believe that the primary issue with drinking beer and losing weight has more to do with the American lifestyle than beer itself. Here’s my reasoning. Look at most craft beer Brewmasters. They’re in shape. When I visited Boston and Nashville, to large craft beer city’s, most of the people that worked in the breweries or bars would consume 3-4 beers a day but be in incredible shape (our tour guide at the Samuel Adams brewery even saw fit to show off his 6-pack). So while this may not be hard, scientific evidence it does go to show you can enjoy beer and be in shape, but it has to be good beer. What is a good beer?
Well, as I said above during WW2 the majority of American beers became lagers brewed with corn in large batches. They really are empty calories! Contrast that to a small batch craft beer or a dark European stout like Guinness. These beers are made primarily by organic hops, whole grains, good filtered water, and yeast. These provide essential vitamins and minerals to your body at a relatively low alcohol content and low calorie count (often under 200 calories per drink. Take that Starbucks!)
If you’ve stuck with me this far you either really like beer, or you want to drop some pounds without giving up your favorite brew. So here’s what I did specifically each and every day for a month. The most important part of this plan is logging EVERYTHING you put in your mouth and sticking to a good macro plan. I don’t care what you put in your mouth *snicker* if your macros are dead on you’re going to drop weight. My macro goals were 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat while sticking at a calorie deficit of at least 700 calories a day. That means the harder I workout in the morning the more I could enjoy at night.
Monday is cheat day. It’s also my hardest workout day, usually 60 minutes of Turbo Fire or Les Mills Combat. This day I indulge in tacos, wine, craft beer, and pizza.
Tuesday thru Sunday I keep things simple. My workouts vary from 15 minute HIITs to 45 minutes of martial arts.
Breakfast: Shakeology w/ almond milk and fruit OR Dunkin Donuts Turkey Sausage Flatbread
Lunch: Homemade beef and bean chili, but just one cup!
Afternoon snack: Large Fuji Apple
Dinner: 12oz of grilled chicken with tabasco, celery, carrots, and a side of homemade horseradish
LOTS of water. I’m talking at least 100oz.
The beer: At least one 20oz Guinness. A good IPA. If I have a third I make sure it’s another stout or porter. What’s important is I don’t slam these all at once. I usually have my first beer around 7pm, another at midnight, and my last at 2am. By spreading these good, wholesome beers out across 6-7 hours I allow my body to burn the calories, digest, and move on to burning fat.
With this plan I was able to drop a whopping 11 pounds in a month, and I don’t plan to change a thing. I can’t wait to see how this works over the course of 90 days, and I definitely plan to make regular updates with what I find. What I hope to prove is that working hard, eating good food, and enjoying good craft beer you can still get that body you want without torturing yourself or giving up your favorite things.