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Moderate beer consumption as part of a balanced diet

Wiki Spanish Food editorial team

Beyond looking good or feeling good about the way we look, maintaining a healthy weight is an important aspect for our health. In recent years, being overweight has become one of the most common health problems in developed countries. According to the Spanish National Statistics Institute, 37% of adults are overweight and more than 18% are obese.

Miracle diets are not the answer. The answer is changing one's lifestyle and establishing a good habit of eating healthy. As Dr. Fernando Goñi, from the Endocrinology and Nutrition Department at Basurto Hospital (Bilbao), explains in the document "The role of beer consumption in the dietetic treatment of obesity", when looking to lose weight, "It's necessary to establish a balanced diet that is easy to maintain, without restricting those foods which are typical of our Mediterranean culture".

This "culture" based on a balanced diet to which Dr. Goñi is referring may be relatively easy to do at home, but what do we do when we go out? The majority of people on a diet believe that going out for dinner or meeting people for drinks is prohibited. However, specialists recommend including the foods and customs that are typical of our culture, such as vegetables, olive oil and beer, in their diet. Being on a diet, or trying to keep your weight down, doesn't mean you can't have a beer with your friends. Beer, which is made of natural ingredients, is part of the Healthy Eating Pyramid and, therefore, can be included moderately in our diet (1 or 2 beers per day for women and 2 to 3 for men).

As Dr. Fernando Goñi sets out in the manual "Watch your weight and have a social life", having a beer with a small dish can be healthy, provided that the food is low in calories and fat. Essentially, the problem is not the number of calories in the beer, but those in the food we eat when we're having that beer. Moreover, a 200 ml alcohol-free beer has just 34 kcal (traditional beer has 90 kcal), with the result that it's a good option for anyone who wants to enjoy the flavor of a beer but is overweight or on a diet.

Debunking the beer belly myth

Despite the existence of the term "beer belly", several scientific studies refute the idea and conclude that moderate consumption of beer does not cause weight gain. According to research from the study "Association between moderate consumption of traditional beer and body composition", led by Dr. Ascensión Marcos, a professor and also director of the Immunonutrition Group at the Institute of Food Science, Technology and Nutrition's Department of Metabolism and Nutrition, moderate consumption of beer, both traditional and alcohol-free, does not alter the circumference of the arm, hip or waist, nor does it lead to changes in the body mass index.

Moreover, there are many habits that can help prevent obesity, such as limiting consumption of animal fats, eating more fish than meat, eating five meals a day, and increasing physical activity. The objective is to curb the negative projections of the World Health Organization, which expects most European countries to experience a 30% increase in the number of overweight and obese people by 2030.

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