Let’s assume you’re one of those rare individuals who makes New Year’s resolutions.
You’re going to get organized. Maybe learn a new language. You’re determined to floss more, work out more, watch TV less, lose weight and get those chiseled six-pack abs you covet.
Can beer be part of the equation when you sit down to scribble out your do’s and don’ts for 2015? Can you say goodbye to the beer belly without bidding adieu to the beer?
I have good news. The answer is yes. Sort of.
I’m not going to mislead you. America eats too much and moves too little. Some of it is probably mindless eating and drinking.
Yet, if you look around at some of the better craft brewery taprooms and beer bars, you’ll often see slim, healthy people. It’s never a surprise to find serious runners, cyclists and other athletes enjoying good beer.
Ruhstaller owner J-E Paino, an avid cyclist and fitness buff, says business is especially busy in the last few weeks of each year. He gets lots of calls for wholesale orders. Then the New Year comes, everyone is hung over and boom! The drying out begins. Beer sales go way down for at least two weeks, says Paino.
“The beer gets all the blame for gaining weight, but beer can be part of a balanced lifestyle,” said Paino. “When I go to Bikram yoga, I call it detox, and then I go have a beer and call it re-tox. I can always tell when my equilibrium is out of balance.”
While there is a lot of folklore about beer and the so-called beer belly, there isn’t as much in the health and fitness literature that suggests beer is actually good for you. It can be.
Charles Bamforth, the distinguished beer professor at UC Davis, stated in a campus-produced article in 2005 that suggests beer has been unfairly blamed for weight gain.
“Contrary to popular belief, beer is not comprised of empty calories. Rather, it can contain significant levels of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fiber,” Bamforth said.
Haley Gonzales, an avid long-distance runner and certified coach for Kaia FIT, the women-only fitness company, likes to have a beer now and then, and often participates in the Sloppy Moose Running Club, which meets at New Helvetia Brewing every Thursday night. She is mindful when she drinks and often calibrates how far to run to balance out how much she eats and drinks.
Her secret? There’s no secret.
“Basically, I just don’t drink a lot. When Sloppy Moose has their runs, I probably have two beers. Very rarely do I have three,” she said recently. “I know I’m going to be drinking tomorrow, so today I did my run and I added on a mile, and tomorrow I will add on two miles.”
Says Trenton Yackzan, one of the owners of Sudwerk Brewing in Davis: “We love promoting that beer is healthy in moderation. We teamed with a local gym, Fit House, last year to host a ‘Keg Fit’ program that included a one-hour workout in the restaurant parking lot involving keg shells and bags of grain, followed by a pint and educational beer session in the Dock Store (taproom).”
Part of the anti-beer sentiment can be traced to “The South Beach Diet,” whose creator, Arthur Agatson, once called beer the most fattening alcoholic beverage because of its use of maltose, a sugar. He later retracted that statement when it was pointed out that the maltose “is removed by the fermentation process,” according to that 2005 UC Davis report.
A typical beer has about 150 calories for 12 ounces, which is just 30 calories more than a glass of skim milk. The problem arises when you drink one beer after another without thinking (no one does that with skim milk, right?). Then there are the chips, nachos, chicken wings and french fries associated with beer.
But craft beer, because of its quality, variety and emphasis on flavor, tends to encourage moderation.
So drink up and be mindful. There’s no need to give up on good beer in 2015.
Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.