Cold Local Brews for Beer Loving Canucks

Stay slimming while savouring our local suds
Cold Local Brews for Beer Loving Canucks

For most of us, hot summers mean a cold beer. Whether you're at a music festival, a beach picnic or a backyard barbecue, you're bound to yearn for a frosty sip of the nation's favourite drink. The problem is the after-beer guilt. According to a recent IPSOS Reid study, 70 percent of Canadians "closely associate" drinking beer with gaining weight.

Like many ideas about watching your weight, the no-beer diet rule is mostly myth. Lois Ferguson, a registered dietician, says, "It's important for consumers to know that moderate consumption of beer does not make you gain weight, provided it's part of healthy, balanced diet."

The first step to enjoying beer while watching your figure is understanding the facts. The average Canadian beer has about 150 calories, ten less than a whole milk. Beer contains no fat, but it does have carbohydrates, protein, and alcohol. Alcohol is where the calories hide—7 calories per gram.

So, the best way to be a savvy beer drinker is to watch the alcohol content of your beer. In Canada, alcohol content in beer ranges anywhere from about 3.9 percent to 8.2 percent. The closer you are to 4 percent, the more likely you are to stick to your weight-loss goals. This means reading labels. Remember that colour makes no difference in terms of calories—a thick dark beer can be less fattening that a thin "light" coloured beer.

In fact, most light beers are actually just low-alcohol beers. And, that's a real plus for most dieters—you can cut a few extra calories, and keep from getting tipsy which can loosen you up leading you right to the bowl of chips on the coffee table.

Light beers usually have about 100 calories. And, there are plenty of Canadian brands to choose from. Labatt makes Labatt Blue Light (108 calories, 4% alcohol), and Labatt Lite (108 calories, 4% alcohol). Molson brews Canadian Light (109 calories, 3.9% alcohol) and Export Light (112 calories, 4% alcohol) a lager with a maltier taste. "Moose light" or Moosehead Light (115 calories, 4% alcohol) is made—surprise—by Moosehead, which also makes the lesser known, lighter-bodied Alpine Light (115 calories, 4% alcohol). And Sleeman, a mid-sized brewer from Ontario produces a fresh, regional option, Sleeman Premium Light (95 calories, 4% alcohol). All of these are available just about everywhere in Canada which makes things easy.

Another choice is the recent flurry of low-carb beers. According to the University of California Berkeley Wellness Letter, "Low-carb beers are simply the old light beers with a new label and ad campaign." Though this may be true, low-carb beers are still low-alcohol, which makes them a safe bet. For example, try: Molson Ultra (2.5 carbs, 97 calories, 4.5% alcohol); Labatt Sterling (2.5 grams carbs, 88 calories, 4% alcohol), or Sleeman Clear (2.5 grams carbs, 90 calories; 4% alcohol)

Some beer lovers may still worry about the taste factor. Canada's premier beer connoisseur Stephen Beaumont (founder of the Web site www.worldofbeer.com) suggests that real connoisseurs stick to low-alcohol options made by smaller brewers, such as Ontario's Wellington Arkell which makes a traditional British best bitter with a sweet malt taste, but less alcohol (4.0%).

Overall remember the cardinal rule: No matter what kind of beer you choose, drink moderately. As Beaumont says, "The first thing I suggest to people who want to lose weight is to drink less beer." Just go slow, enjoy yourself, and stop after one or two.

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