The Secrets to Drinking as Many Beers as You Want (without Gaining Weight)

How to drink and not gain weight

Many moons ago, I had a problem.  I was travelling almost every week to multiple cities with a band of product managers, operations folks and executives.  For those of you that know (and for those of you that don't), when you travel with co-workers, 99.9% of the time you aren't with a client or in transit, you are at a drinking establishment.  And, if you drink are drinking them.

This is great.  I feel like we solved many problems and had many breakthrough moments drinking beers (note: there is an inverse relationship between the number of  problems solved and beers drank... as well as a strong correlation between the number of beers drank and breakthrough moments that turned out to be duds).

I noticed an issue when I headed to the cottage one weekend and a nice and sincere friend of mine (read: a-hole) said 'Dude, you are getting bigger'.  Whoa. Hold on.

Now, gaining weight isn't the end of the world, but it was something I definitely wanted to address, if at all possible.  As luck had it, my then girlfriend (and now wife) worked in the nutrition/health industry and the Sunday of that very weekend I asked her 'what do I need to do to manage my weight'.

Her response was simple - 'don't drink as much beer'.  Apparently, beer and weight gain go hand in hand. My response, which is the reason for this entire post  was 'Okay, what else can I do that doesn't involve not drinking as much beer.'   After much back and forth, we boiled it down to a couple key points which I've presented below (note: I've asked our resident Nutritionist, Hiwot to provide some 'why' to the points).

1. Swap out carbs

Why? Beer itself is made of carbohydrates - fermented barley and sometimes wheat. Despite how much your body needs carbs for energy, eating a variety of foods allows your body to get all the essential nutrients it needs.  So eating a carb-rich meal along with a few brews does little to maintain the nutrient balance your body needs. But if you are going to eat carbs, opt for the least processed and fibre rich sources. 

2. Eat more greens 

Why? Beer-drinking or not, greens are a good choice. Not only are they nutrient packed, they have a very low calorie count per serving. That means you can eat a higher volume of greens and feel full without consuming too many calories.  Beer on the other hand packs on 150 calories per bottle/can (that's the equivalent of 21 cups of spinach). To keep the calories at bay, swap out the high-calorie foods for some greens.  

3. Walk more 

Why? The average sedentary male needs around 2,200 - 2,400 calories per day (1,800-2,000 calories for women) to maintain a healthy weight. Excess calories consumed will be stored in the body as fat.

Beer has, on average, 150 calories per bottle/can. That's 150 calories of excess energy that needs to be stored (assuming no adjustments have been made to your diet and/or activity level). 

So, how much walking does it take to burn 150 calories? 1.5 miles (for the average person that weighs around 150 pounds - more calories are burned if you weigh more). 

Tip: Ditch the car and jog to the bar instead. 

I'm happy to say I've followed these rules for more than a decade now and have in fact been able to reasonably maintain a healthy weight, good energy and a positive attitude.  Beer weight gain is no longer a given. Sadly, I have not been able to change the effects beers have on problem-solving or 'breakthrough-ideas-that-turn-out-to-be-duds' but, life is a work in progress.

Hope these tips help and always interested in dialogue's around these ideas.


A Kerfuffle in the Office Yesterday