Are low-carb beers really better for you?
Think low-carb beers will allow you to continue your health kick without cutting out drinking? Not so much.
In fact, experts say low-carb beers won’t help you battle the bulge and could even be doing you damage if you do not drink responsibly.
What is low-carb beer?
Low-carb beer is an ale that has been processed at the brewery to strip out more carbohydrates.
But according to LiveLighter campaign Manager and dietitian Alison McAleese, the end difference is minuscule because beers do not contain many carbs in the first place.
“It’s a popular dietary trend over the last few years to cut back on processed carbohydrates and low-carb beer is tapping into the sentiment,” she says.
“But the community understanding of carbs in beer is low, so people fall for it.”
Low-carb beers generally contain anywhere from 2g to 8g, while standard beer has around 10g.
But is low-carb beer better for you?
Cancer Council of Victoria research shows one in three men and one in five women believe low-carb beer is healthier than standard beer, but that simply isn’t true, says nutrition and physical activity committee chair Clare Hughes.
“The common assumption that low-carb beer is better for you is a myth that often appears in alcohol marketing,” she says.
“Low-carb beer still contains alcohol. Alcohol is carcinogenic to humans, and the more you drink, the greater your risk of cancer, so low-carb options aren’t a licence to drink as much as you like.”
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Is lower-carb beer lower in alcohol?
No. Low carb does not say anything about alcohol content, which is the main concern for health practitioners.
“Often low carb beers are medium-to-high alcohol content, “says Alison.
“So rather than low-carb beers we say look for low alcohol like a light beer instead.”
Is it worth drinking low-carb beer if you are trying to lose weight?
Swapping to a six pack of low-carb beer is not going to help you get a six pack of abs.
“Low-carb beers are high in kilojoules and have only slightly fewer kilojoules than regular beer,” Clare says.
“Around 80 per cent of the kilojoules in a typical beer come from the alcohol itself, with only around 15 per cent coming from carbohydrates, and less than 1 per cent from sugar.”
Alison says the only way to really lose weight is by adjusting your drinking habits – and that means cutting down altogether.
- The lowdown: Cutting through carb confusion with Luke Hines