The best way to stay on the wagon is to plan ahead, steering clear of the brewskies that can do the most damage to your waistline.
But fear not: "Drinking beer doesn't mean you're automatically going to put the brakes on your weight-loss journey," says New York-based registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood. "One light beer is the caloric equivalent of two mini Snickers." So the occasional beer (or two) is no biggie, especially if you include them as part of your calorie quota for the day. Drink up on the regular, however, and the waters can get murky.
Naturally, the best way to stay on the wagon (at least, when it comes to your calorie intake) is to plan ahead, steering clear of the brewskies that can do the most damage to your waistline, says Lockwood.
"Because beer has no fat and doesn't provide a strong source of nutritional value, you want to aim for the least-dense beers, lowest alcohol content (more alcohol = more calories), and smallest amount of carbs and calories to stay on track," she says.
These include brands like:
Budweiser Select (99 calories, 3.1 g. carbs, 4.3 percent alcohol)
Miller Genuine Draft 64 (64 calories, 2.4 g. carbs, 2.8 percent alcohol)
Michelob Ultra (95 calories, 2.6 g. carbs, 4.2 percent alcohol)
Corona Light (99 calories, 5 g. carbs, 3.2 percent alcohol).
Bonus: "The higher level of carbonation in these light beers takes up more room in your stomach than regular beers, which can help stave off hunger," she adds.
These beers also won't put a damper on your weight-loss journey as much as thicker beers, which contain the highest content of carbs and calories due to their richness in flavor and body, says Lockwood.
Watch out for:
Guinness Extra Stout (176 calories, 14 g. carbs, 6 percent alcohol)
Corona Extra (148 calories, 14 g. carbs, 4.6 percent alcohol)
Newcastle Brown Ale (138 calories, 12.8 g. carbs, 4.7 percent alcohol)
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (330 calories, 30.3 g. carbs, 9.6 percent alcohol)
But if light beer basically tastes like water to you, you’re not doomed. "Many people think darker beers are higher in calories because they sometimes feel heavier in our stomachs," says Montana-based registered dietitian Jenna Gorham. "However, this isn't always the case."
For a rough estimate of how many calories are in your go-to beer, multiply the alcohol percentage by two, then multiply that number by the number of ounces in the bottle or can (and plan accordingly). That can be a really helpful trick if you’re sipping a lesser-known beer at a bar.
Another trick that can help you stay on track: Alternate between beer and sparkling water to stay hydrated and ultimately drink less alcohol overall, says Gorham.
Also, keep in mind that it's usually not the beer itself that halts weight loss—it's the food decisions you make once your inhibitions are MIA. Because beer falls under the category of empty calories, we tend to crave fried, cheesy, and carb-heavy foods when we're kicking back, says Lockwood, which aren't exactly the best options your waistline.
To avoid going into calorie overdraft, decide your dinner plans ahead of time so your potential beer buzz won't affect your judgment. If that's not an option and your squad orders appetizers for the table, make the appetizers your dinner and remember the rule of one: Take one sampling of each order (one mozz stick, one slider, one spoonful of guac) and mindfully indulge without beating yourself up about it, says Lockwood. Guilt will only lead to more drinking, more snacking, and less shedding—and who wants that?