Winter has been relatively mild in the northeastern part of the U.S. With such moderate temperatures, our minds quickly slide into summer mode, dreaming of sexy sandals, bare midriffs, and how the latest swimwear collections will frame our sumptuous figures. Although they would never admit it, men check out their own abs, too. As this Beer Fox runs from beer-festival to beer-competition to beer-dinner, she is constantly encountering people who say, “I need to lose 20 pounds, so this is the last beer I’m going to have in a long time.” Is this truth or fallacy?
How did beer get such a bad rap when it comes to weight gain? Research studies consistently show that excess weight is not caused by drinking beer at moderate levels. In fact, over the course of a year, the Beer Fox embarked on her own mission to shed extra pounds. She has not cut beer out of her diet; yet, she weighs 35 pounds less than when she began, and is easily maintaining her weight loss.
The excess weight you carry should be a concern to you. In the United States, the Obesity Epidemic costs 150 billion dollars per year, fully 10% of the National Medical Budget. Dr. William H Dietz, Director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirms that “obesity is caused by consuming more calories than your body burns,” but says it is a much more complex problem in our society. Factors that contribute to weight gain include foods that are high in sugars and fats, easy access to prepared foods, and a sedentary lifestyle, precipitated by more time in front of screens, whether they are for entertainment or in the course of our computer-centric work day.
Current figures indicate that 1 in 3 adults are obese. Even more staggering are the stats for children: 1 in 6 children are obese … and they don’t drink beer.
A 2003 study, led by Martin Bobak of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, International Center for Health and Society at the University College London, conducted an analysis of 891 men and 1098 women, between the ages of 25 and 64, who were either nondrinkers or ‘exclusively’ beer drinkers (they were neither wine drinkers nor drinkers of spirits).
This study was conducted in six districts in the Czech Republic, chosen because it has the highest per capita beer consumption in the world. Other factors for choosing this demographic were the tendency of the population to drink beer with meals, and the habit of most of the people to drink beer in moderate amounts. Among these moderate drinkers, the study reported: “… our results are consistent with the literature, which suggests that the association between beer and obesity, if it exists, is probably weak.” Contrary to common perceptions, the data showed that women who drink beer tend to weigh less.
Another study associated with the National Public Health Institute of Finland and the U.S. National Cancer Institute evaluated 27,215 middle-aged men. The study found that “Even if alcohol consumption is one noteworthy factor associated with weight, the energy from alcohol increases body weight less than expected.”
J. Wilson of West Des Moines, Iowa, conducted his own non-scientific research project, during the spring of 2011. He did an extensive study of the Paulaner monks, credited with the historic development of the Doppelbock style of beer in the 1600s. This religious sect had traveled from Italy to Germany and fasted during the Lenten Season, sustained solely by “liquid bread,” as Doppelbock came to be known.
Motivated by their dedication, Wilson launched his own version of the Lenten Fast, collaborating with Eric Sorensen, Head Brewer of Rock Bottom Brewery – West Des Moines, to craft Illuminator Doppelbock. This beer was to be Wilson’s sole sustenance throughout the forty-six days of Lent between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, from March 9 to April 23, 2011. He had committed to living solely on Doppelbock and water, not as a stunt to gain attention, but as a historical experiment and spiritual journey. With that in mind, he would not break the fast, even on Sundays, as was common in more traditional observations.
He secured the approval of his boss, Jon Groves at the Adams County Free Press, and invested his time with Rock Bottom Brewery in producing the beer that would sustain him. On January 27th, Sorensen and Wilson brewed eight barrels of Doppelbock which was tapped on Fat Tuesday, drawing the largest crowd Rock Bottom had attracted in four years. This Doppelbock scored an A-rating at beeradvocate.com. It was entered as Barrel Reserve Illuminator, aged in Heaven Hill Rye Barrels, at the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers in Chicago, Illinois, where it took a Silver medal.
Wilson’s doctor monitored his health throughout the forty-six day period with weekly blood tests and weight analysis. Reverend Ken Rummer, a local Presbyterian minister, provided spiritual inspiration.
Despite the difficulty of the task, J. Wilson did succeed in completing his fast throughout Lent. His weight dropped from 160 pounds to 135 pounds in the final tally. Beer provides high levels of potassium, with a regular beer having 96 mg. Potassium levels in Doppelbock are even higher, so these levels were carefully monitored to ensure that his health was not compromised.
By day 22, his Creatinine level was high, an indication that his kidneys were not filtering waste products as efficiently as normal. Although beer does have low levels of protein in it, tests also showed he was not getting sufficient protein in this modified diet. Since all his storage proteins were depleted at that point, the body began sustaining itself on body muscle. This could be damaging to the liver and kidneys over a long period of time. At the end of his fast, Wilson was careful to bulk-up on broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, as well as foods high in protein.
If you still think beer is the culprit in weight gain, a foxy look at your daily food intake, along with some assessment of your daily exercise program, may reveal a few things about the track your American lifestyle has taken. Our taste-buds have been trained to prefer sweetness, even spilling into salads, dressed with sugar-coated nuts, and dressings that are fat-free but high in sugar. Craft beer has bitterness that can counter those sweet cravings, and will provide protein and B vitamins to your diet. Look out, Sports Illustrated! Swimsuit models drenched in beer are next on the roster.
Run for beer:
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Body Chamois - Dry off after those workouts before your beer break:
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