Is Hard Soda Healthier Than Beer?

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Forget session IPAs and small-batch bourbon, boozy root beer was the alcoholic hit of the summer. Producers like Illinois's Small Town Brewery, which makes Not Your Father's Root Beer, can't brew fast enough to meet demand. And more hard sodas are en route to your favorite liquor store's shelves, too. Brewing giant MillerCoors just announced it's adding at least two new hard sodas to the Henry Weinhard's brand, with more possibly on the way.

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But boozy sodas are probably the last thing anyone's waistline needs. "It's basically sugar water with added booze. Beer is generally around 150 calories a bottle, less if you're choosing the light version. The hard soda is into the 200s in terms of calories," says Abby Langer, a registered dietician based in Toronto.

That's not to say you should completely avoid hard soda if you love it. But your goal should be to drink as little as possible to enjoy yourself, says Yoni Freedhoff, MD, an obesity medicine doctor and the author of The Diet Fix.

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If you've ever been on a diet, you probably know that beer gets a bad rap for being saturated with carbs. But Langer says that hard sodas make even regular beers look like an Atkins-friendly option. "If you're trying to cut carbs, you're going to want to go with the beer. Hard soda, because of all the sugar, typically has over 30 grams of carbs per serving. Beer clocks in at around 12 grams of carbs per serving."

And Langer is more concerned about her clients consuming large amounts of added sugars than counting carbs. There's a growing body of research suggesting that high sugar intake is linked to a wide range of health problems, including things like dementia and depression. Plus, like soda, hard root beer is the stuff that keeps your dentist's yacht in tip-top shape — those liquid calories won't do your teeth any favors.

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