I drank a pint of beer every day — it had an unexpected effect on my weight

I began drinking beer as a student. One “fated” evening, while backpacking through Germany, I sat down in a beer hall, ordered a pint of the amber brew, and the rest is history – I was converted.

Unsurprisingly, as I began to indulge, more often and unthinkingly, in casual pints throughout the week, I started to gain weight. Nothing excessive, just enough so that my jeans started to fit a little more snugly.

We’ve all been there. It’s no secret that beer, in all its forms, is highly calorific. Some pints of lager contain as many as 180 calories (equivalent to a slice of pizza), while a stout or ale can usually amount to a whopping 250 calories.

Not to mention that drinking beer has consistently been linked to developing a variety of health and mortality risks, which is why the CDC recommends that alcohol should only ever be consumed in moderation – up to one drink per day for women, and two for men.

The challenge

Safe in the knowledge that I was keeping within the CDC’s guidelines, it was still with some trepidation that I approached this challenge.

I had, after all, noticed myself gradually putting on weight in the past, but this time curiosity won over. I wanted to see if beer could, in fact, make the difference between gaining two or a few pounds. 

Here’s what happened. 

Day 1 

I work part-time as a bartender, which proved mightily useful given the task at hand. After taking my initial measurement, I spoke to my colleagues, who were happy to help me out with the challenge. They agreed to serve me a “surprise” pint of beer (ale, lager, stout – you name it) each day.

I started off on Innis and Gunn, a craft lager with alcohol volume 4.6%. In the US, a “standard” drink constitutes about 14 grams of pure alcohol, meaning that you can generally expect one pint to contain around 5% alcohol. I wondered, could alcohol content itself be a factor in contributing to weight gain…?

Day 2 

I did my research, and found out that high alcoholic volume does directly indicate a greater calorie count. No surprise then that when I stepped onto the scales today and saw that I had gained two pounds, my mind jumped to the beer – however…

The average adult’s body weight generally tends to fluctuate between 2.2 and 4.4 pounds over the course of a few days regardless, thanks to natural processes such as water retention and shifting energy balance

With that in mind, I’ll be watching to see if I gain anything beyond those weight boundaries. In the meantime, I’ll be drinking a strong, 5.6% India Pale Ale (IPA). Let’s see what happens.

Day 3 

I’m three pounds heavier than when I started the challenge. Could it have been the IPA? 

Maybe. But I think today’s measurement may be more to do with the fact that I also scoffed some cheesy nachos last night. Salty food, after all, is a massive contributor to immediate weight gain, and we tend to eat more of it when drinking, since alcohol increases our appetites.  

Plus, I’m still within the normal boundaries of weight fluctuation, so nothing to worry about yet. I decided to take a day off from visiting the pub though, and made do with what I had in the fridge – some good old Corona Extra, which I duly toppled into a pint glass until full. 

Day 4 

I have lost a pound!

Well, this was certainly unexpected. Three pints into the challenge, and my weight has hardly been affected at all. I know that beer led to me gaining a few more pounds in the past – but perhaps that partly came down to having a more sedentary lifestyle. 

Nowadays, I work long hours on a busy bar and restaurant floor. Maybe I’m burning up the energy from my beers by running to and fro to meet orders? I mulled this thought over, as I gulped down a pint of brown craft ale at the end of my shift.   

Day 5 

On the last day of my weight-watching journey, it seemed fitting that I was served a pint of Guinness, first brewed way back in 1759. After taking my final measurement, the result was clear – I weighed a pound and a half heavier than I did at the beginning of the challenge.

It’s not healthy to drink alcohol every day, and there’s a wealth of research to prove it, but I will say this. Humans have relied upon the production of beer to sustain themselves for centuries, and the beloved brew is ultimately part of our day-to-day lifestyle. 

It seems to me that one pint of beer a day is unlikely to drastically affect your weight in a short space of time! Instead, it’s weight gain over a long period that you need to watch out for, in which case cutting out beer or rethinking some lifestyle choices may be the way forward.