How to drink beer without racking up the calories.
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How to drink beer without racking up the calories.

It wouldn't be much of any Friday after work, Saturday post-bike ride, or lazy Sunday on the boat without knocking back a few beers. But here's the buzzkill: Beer has calories, sometimes a lot of them, so putting back a few pints (or many) can sabotage even the most balanced diets. After all, the term "beer belly" didn't just appear out of nowhere.

While water would be the more healthful beverage option for so many reasons, we know that's not going to happen, especially during a weekend pub crawl. But you can be smarter about your beer choices and how you drink it to cut down considerably on the calories you consume. Theresa DiMasi, editor in chief of WeightWatchers.com, shares a bunch of great tips.

First off, DiMasi says to choose bottled beer over tap whenever possible, because then you can read the label for calories, carbohydrates, and the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV). The higher the ABV, the more potent a beer is, but also the more calories it contains. "People tend to get that syrupy cocktail mixers and sugary sodas have calories, but they often don't realize that the alcohol itself is caloric," DiMasi says. "Most of beer's calories come from the alcohol." And don't be fooled by crafty label lingo such as light or fewer carbohydrates. "These could mean anything – that a beer is light in color or has fewer carbs than the full-bodied version – so they don't actually tell you much," she adds. Always read the fine print.

If you're a fan of higher-calorie varieties like India pale ales or creamy stouts, or you love a good microbrew on draught, then moderation is your friend, says DiMasi. Try to sip slowly, drink water between beers, keep conversation going with your buds or fellow bar-goers, and hop off the barstool sporadically to socialize or just walk around. She also suggests steering clear of salty, high-calorie bar snacks like nuts and oil-popped popcorn, which are too easy to eat mindlessly, even if you're not hungry, and only make you thirsty for more beer.

Cheers.