I love (good) beer. Whether it’s a carefully crafted west coast IPA, a hearty Chocolate Stout, a superbly balanced Belgian Wit, or one of the many, many amazing lagers of Eastern or Central Europe, I find few things in life more satisfying than great, great beer. I love it so much, in fact, that I stopped trying to eliminate it from my diet, even as I’ve undertaken intentional fat loss and strength building periods. I balance my love for hops and barley with my passion for health and wellness strategically, balancing my spots of malty indulgence accordingly.
Here are a few things I’ve learned that help me stay lean while regularly drinking great beer.
- Eliminate Gluten and Excess Grains – In my opinion, grains are best fermented and fermented well. Although I can’t speak to the quality in other countries, American wheat (whether whole or white) offers little nutritional value and is associated with increased levels of visceral fat, heart issues, frail bones, and a whole host of other health issues. While I haven’t completely eliminated gluten from my diet, I’ve found that limiting consumption to one day a week while continually alternating my carb intake has done a lot of good for my metabolic health, which allows me more leeway to indulge when I crave malt and hops. When selecting beer, go for the good stuff and avoid beers with unnatural ingredients, as they can further tax your liver and kidneys.
- Choose Your Spots Intelligently – I try to limit my beer intake to one day a week, though, quite often, imbibe on a second as well. I save beer drinking for my cheat day, which almost always falls on the weekend, and time my beer intake to follow physical activity, be it a bike ride, hike with my dogs, light HIIT workout, or hardcore landscaping project. By doing so, my body uses the fermented sugars and carbohydrates much like a recovery drink, which I supplement with nutrient-dense foods and water.
- Increase Your Insulin Sensitivity – Insulin sensitivity refers to the body’s level of responsiveness to insulin – the hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. People with increased levels of insulin in their blood and low insulin sensitivity are at greater risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, hypertension, and type-2 diabetes. People that are insulin sensitive, though, are better able to burn fat, retain lean muscle, and effectively respond to increased glycemic demands; great assets if you love beer as much as I do. Insulin Sensitivity is one of the most overlooked factors in wellness and surprisingly easy to improve through diet, exercise, and healthy habits such as getting adequate sleep and intermittent fasting. For specific recipes utilizing Vinegar, Cinnamon, Limes, Berries, and other Insulin mitigators, check out my eBook – “Five Recipes That Will Increase Your Insulin Sensitivity”.
- Supplement with Vitamins and Greens – This one may seem obvious, though, you’d be surprised how many active people don’t take a multivitamin and/or supplement with nutrients and minerals. In doing so, you’re essentially covering your bases in the event you’re not able to get adequate nutrition from whole foods – a common side effect of over-consumption.
Let me be clear. Beer won’t help you reach your fitness goals. Alcohol significantly slows whole body lipid oxidation, thus slowing both your metabolic and fat burning systems. If consumed in moderation even a few times a week, alcohol can significantly impact your sleep and hormonal balance, which can lead to increased cortisol levels and fat build up. Moreover, red wine and tequilla are more readily metabolized than beer, and tend to be less taxing on insulin.
Moderation is key; research and common sense dictate that while 1-2 beers can have a positive post-workout effect, 5+ beers will do more harm than good. Fear not, though. By intelligently timing your intake, optimizing your diet, and increasing your body’s insulin response, you can drink plenty of great beer while building or maintaining six-pack abs.
Mike proudly serves as Interim Director of the Career Center and Director of Career Discovery at one of the best colleges in the country. He started his website, wakeupbeawesomegotosleep.com, as a way to share small and easy lifestyle that lead to huge results.