Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Apr 28, 2006 02:47 PM

Does beer make you fat?

  • h

Everyone knows what a beer gut looks like.

Everyone jokes about beer making you fat.

I don’t see the logic in this. And I want to know if there is any truth in the belief that beer makes you fat.

I’m happy drinking light beer. I’m happy with low carb beer. A few a week. But I’m currently trying to lose weight and the few beers make me feel guilty. Feeling guilty about something so trivial makes me feel like a wussy so I’d like to learn the truth.

What I kind of assume. NO beer doesn’t make you fat. Men easily gain weight in their gut. Maybe the gut is the first place men gain weight. The kind of men who drink beer enjoy snacking with their beer. Beer makes you impulsive and you snack more.

Beer is a scapegoat.

What do you think?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Beer has calories. If you consume enough beer and you don't exercise to work off the calories, you will put on weight.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Timowitz

      It really is as simple as this. Extra calories = extra pounds whether it comes from beer, chocolate cake, apples or bananas.

      1. re: MM

        oh, but I'd be so much hapier getting fat from beer and chips than apples or bananas:)

    2. The Carbohydrates in beer are very easy to digest and spike your blood sugar up, which will inturn, make you want to eat more, which will in turn, make you fat. I have lost about 30 pounds since last august, and pretty much cut beer out of the picture completely. I also cut out flours that aren't 100% whole grain, and sugar, so I made a pretty significan dietary change. Beer also makes me insanely gassy, which makes me feel fatter to begin with. My appreciation for wine has increased exponentially too, which I always think is cool..

      16 Replies
      1. re: CulinaryKate

        Right. Unlike wine or spirits, beer has significant calories both from carbs and from alcohol (carbs have four calories per gram; alcohol has seven calories per gram). Most spirits have almost no carbs; dry table wines have very few carbs. Unlike other calorie sources (carbs, proteins, fats), your body can't store alcohol calories by turning them into fat, so it burns the calories from the alcohol preferentially, which leaves any excess calories in the form of carbs to be turned into fat. Which is why people who drink a lot but also eat well tend to be fat, but down-and-out alcoholics are thin -- they're getting most of their calories from alcohol they can't convert to fat.

        And like you said, you tend to munch salty snacks with beer, which make you drink more beer -- that's why bars serve salty snacks! -- so you get into a cycle of overconsumption of calories.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          "Which is why people who drink a lot but also eat well tend to be fat, but down-and-out alcoholics are thin -- they're getting most of their calories from alcohol they can't convert to fat."

          New life goal - to be a fat alcoholic.

          1. re: FrankD

            Are you going to make a "super beer me" movie? (as in Super Size Me)

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              There's already a Super High Me. A third installment, dealing in alcohol, would not be out of place at all.

              1. re: onceadaylily

                Oh, my. You are correct. Now, that you mentioned it, my friends did tell me about that movie. Thanks for the information.

                1. re: onceadaylily

                  Yeah, I saw that movie. It was real good. It reminded me of... of...

                  hey, anyone got cheetos?

                  1. re: FrankD

                    Dude . . . we should start making our *own* cheetos. We'd toooootally get rich.

                    1. re: onceadaylily

                      and along these lines - "does alcohol make you fat? No, it makes you lean, on walls, chairs and random ugly people."

                      1. re: nvcook


                        Soo soo glad, once again, not to be drinking anything while reading here . . .

            2. re: Ruth Lafler

              "your body can't store alcohol calories by turning them into fat"


                1. re: meatnveg

                  I meant something that one would find on pubmed, but ...

                  I don't think either of those specifically says what you think they're saying. Anyways, the topic is still not really understood, which is why I wanted something a little bit more scientific as a cite - too often these things end up like a game of telephone.

                  I can't pull the full article until I'm back at work (well, I can, but I can't do it for free), but the abstract on this sums up my knowledge of the topic fairly well - in that it looks like "yes, something weird goes on" (which is addressed best by your second link) but no one really knows exactly what it is, and it does still appear as if body fat is created by alcohol calories.


                  1. re: jgg13

                    I would agree with jgg13 here. I don't think those cited sources are saying what you think they are saying. Thus, in the end, alcohol still results in excess caloric intake (or can) which is converted like other energy forms within the body.

                    1. re: mateo21

                      I think I wasnt clear...the implications in an caloric surplus are simply that, more food gets stored as fat because the body prioritizes the oxidation of alcohol.

                      The alcohol itself doesnot get stored as fat, rather it causes other macro nutrients to get stored.


                      1. re: meatnveg

                        That article is one of the ones I was thinking of when I said that the notion is that "something is going on", but the exact mechanisms aren't quite understood. Outside of mice and things like that I don't believe it's been shown that alcohol is literally not convertible into adipose.

                        In fact my original understanding was that ETOH was a double whammy in that excess Kcal are stored as fat but that due to the preferential handling of ETOH, other Kcal are preferentially stored as adipose. Now that I type that out though, it smells like an urban legend so FWIW

                        1. re: jgg13


                          I think we know that excess calories are behind weight gain.

                          In order to stop that and perhaps even reverse it, excess calories need to be eliminated. Exercise is one way to increase the use of calories, but usually that by itself is not enough.

                          So the first candidate for elimination should be empty calories. Get rid of candy and pop. Cut down on Big Macs. If that's not enough, unfortunately wine and beer (and other booze) ARE very very empty calories and need to go.

                          Yes, beer can make you fat. I don't see that it matters exactly HOW. It does, just as too much pop, cake, greasy food, wherever the excess calories are coming from. What order you choose to eliminate them is up to you, but if weight loss is the goal, or even stopping weight gain, eliminate them you must.

          2. Yes, beer makes you fat. So does cheese. So does meat. So does lettuce, eaten in significant enough quantity with no exercise.

            The one thing that makes beer worse for you weight-wise than other liquors is that it's comparatively light in alcohol, so if you're drinking to get tipsy and it takes, say, four drinks to get you there:

            4 shots of vodka (neat, 42 mL each): 388 kcal
            4 glasses of wine (red, 150 mL each): 420 kcal
            4 bottles of beer (lager, 355 mL each): 468 kcal

            That's an extra 80 calories right there over "white" liquor. Now, on the other hand, if you drink four jiggers of vodka you won't be "full" -- but if you drink four beers you probably will be!

            10 Replies
            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              "4 shots of vodka (neat, 42 mL each): 388 kcal
              4 glasses of wine (red, 150 mL each): 420 kcal
              4 bottles of beer (lager, 355 mL each): 468 kcal
              That's an extra 80 calories right there over "white" liquor."

              Nice to see real facts instead of speculation. Actually, an extra 80 calories on 4 bottles of beer, or an extra 160 if you double up watching football on Sunday, isn't going to make all that much of a difference. People like to focus on some things while ignoring all the other calories they consume. "It's not all the Big Macs and Twinkies that made me fat, it was that nasty beer."

              1. re: Bob Martinez

                That's it exactly. Extra calories will put on the weight no matter what the source.

                With that said, if you'd like to keep the fat off, a good place to start would be something that makes up a larger portion of your calorie intake. White rice made up a fairly large portion of my calorie intake; thus, I've severely cut down on the amount of rice I consume in my diet.

                Likewise, if you're the type to consume two beers a day after work daily and you need to watch the pounds, switching to lite beer or cutting back on the total number of beers would be a good starting point.

                1. re: JojoA

                  saying 'beer makes you fat' is like saying 'orange juice makes you fat' only juice has more calories! over eating drinking + no exercise makes you fat

                2. re: Bob Martinez

                  As Alton Brown said, "There are no bad foods, only bad food habits."

                  Back when my old roommate was a trainer, he made people keep food diaries. You'd be shocked how quickly those little 60-calorie pudding cups and non-fat lattes and quick few pretzels add up to 1,000 calories a day of total non-nutritive crap. Or the people who say, "But I don't eat between meals!" No, but you eat a Big Mac and super-size fries and a regular Coke for lunch and then go home and have a huge dinner at 8 PM and then go to bed right after.

                  I personally am convinced that the obesity problems in this country can be traced to three sources: 1) shockingly large portions, especially in restaurants; 2) the availability of food everywhere and at any time -- offices are horrible places for overweight folks; 3) soda and other sugary drinks -- you don't necessarily think about the 375 calories in that "medium" Coke from 7-Eleven you're drinking.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    I agree w/ everything you said except I dispute that non-fat latte is non-nutritive crap. It is essentially flavored skim milk. How is skim milk crap? Calcium and protein, two things I have to concentrate to get in my diet.

                  2. re: Bob Martinez

                    Weeellll...Denial isn't just a river in Egypt either. Oh no, "'s not the beer, it's the twinkies and the Big Macs." Bean counting the difference in calories between one kind of likker and another, or between vintage wines and twinkies is making a distinction without a difference. Vintage wine will make you gain weight just as fast as rot-gut wine. Bottom line: It IS the booze. What it's NOT are the fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Prepared deliciously of course!

                    1. re: Niki Rothman

                      yes - it is the fruits and veggies and whole grains AND the booze and everything else you eat.

                      eat more calories than you burn - weight goes up.
                      eat fewer calories than you burn and it goes down


                  3. re: Das Ubergeek

                    There's a certain likelihood that the vodka will be mixed with something that is highly caloric, or if you're at a bar, the bartender will add more than a standard shot to the drink. Way too much variability to come to a conclusion. And let's not forget the snacks that often accompany drinks.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      actually your body uses more calories to digest lettuce than are actually in lettuce. Lettuce does nothing to insulin either, making lettuce completely safe to eat as much as you want of it.

                    2. I'm a happy medium guy. No need to cut out the beer, but you have to pay for it by working out more. Less beer, less working out.

                      Though I find a lot of people tend to break the deals the make with themselves on this score.

                      1. How to lose weight: cut out the empty calories.
                        The body converts empty calories straight to fat. Alcohol is metabolized faster than anything else you swallow. Alcohol turns to fat faster than anything else. Alcohol is the MOST empty calorie.
                        How to lose weight: cut out empty calories.