Beer belly. We all know about it: some of us embrace it, some of us do everything we can to get rid of it; including quitting drinking beer. Now that non-alcoholic beers are popping up left, right, and centre, the question on everybody’s lips seems to be: “is non-alcoholic beer actually any healthier for you than regular beer?”
That’s the big question we’re going to tackle in this post. When looking at our own craft non-alc beer, Parc Pils, the answer is generally: “yes!” There’s a few things that Parc Pils has over your standard boozy beer in the health department.
The first, and perhaps most obvious, is the lack of alcohol. There’s plenty of research out there that tells us that excessive alcohol consumption does not bode well for the overall health of our livers. We’ll look into that more deeply just below.
Secondly, Parc contains far fewer calories than a regular full-strength beer, or even it’s non-alcoholic partners-in-crime, namely soft drinks.
Finally, and what separates Parc from some other non-alc beers is the low sugar content. We’ll explain what it is we do differently to achieve low sugar and avoid the weird artificial sweetener taste of some other non-alcs.
There are plenty of different ways alcohol can harm you. You’ve probably heard one too many horror stories of accidents and injuries people have sustained due to excessive alcohol intoxication. It’s not pretty. But aside from the loss of control in our bodies that causes us to make some bad decisions and increase risk of injury, the very act of consuming alcohol starts to do some damage to some of our vital organs.
Generally, our livers are pretty good at filtering out all the nasty stuff that we put in our bodies to ensure nothing toxic hangs around for too long. However, there’s only so much pressure our liver can take, and only so much alcohol it can process at a time.
When we consume more alcohol than our liver is able to process, the alcohol begins to destroy the cells in our liver, slowly degrading how efficient we are at processing it and expelling the toxins from our body. After time, our livers can become so damaged that it stops being able to filter out many of the much less toxic substances it used to be totally fine dealing with. We don’t want to go into too much detail on the problem of liver damage, because we’re here to celebrate the wonderful world of non-alcoholic drinks.
For those of you so medically-inclined, this study from the World Journal of Hepatology examined the effects of non-alcoholic beer on the nutrition and quality of life of patients experiencing cirrhosis of the liver (ie. chronic liver damage). Their study found that drinking non-alcoholic beer (alongside a healthy lifestyle of exercise and nutritional eating) had an overall positive effect on those with liver cirrhosis. We’re not here to say that non-alcoholic beer can reverse the liver problems that alcohol creates, but it sure won’t create them either!
Suffice to say, the liver is an incredibly important organ that helps keep our bodies free of toxins and functioning well, and non-alcoholic drinks obviously have the edge over the alcoholic ones in preventing any damage in the first place.
A large appeal of non-alcoholic beers over other non-alcoholic drinks like a lemon, lime and bitters, or a coke is that it tastes just like a full-strength beer! We want that strong beer taste without having to worry about the calories and that’s exactly what non-alc beers offer.
Let’s do a quick comparison, shall we? Let’s compare Parc Pils, our non-alcoholic pilsner, with Heineken, another type of lager beer. Since a pilsner is a type of lager, it’s flavour profile isn’t much different from a lager like a Heineken. In a standard 350ml bottle of Heineken, you’d be looking at about 150 calories. Alternatively, each serving of our 375ml cans of Parc contain 56 calories. That’s about a third of the calories!
Not only do non-alc beers beat their alcoholic counterparts on calories, they also beat their non-alcoholic counterparts! Your classic non-alcoholic drink options like a lemon, lime and bitters, or a coke, will generally have far more calories than a non-alcoholic beer. You’d actually be looking at very similar calories to the full-strength beer for a lemon, lime and bitters, or a coke. A lemon, lime, and bitters could have somewhere between 100-150 calories a serve and a standard 375ml coke can will set you back 140 calories. If you’re looking for lower calories in your drinks, don’t be fooled by thinking you’ll avoid the calories by avoiding the alcohol. The way non-alcoholic beers are brewed means that there’s very little fat in the products, resulting in far fewer calories. All-in-all, the non-alc beer is your healthy alternative when looking for low-calorie options.
Although most non-alc beers are much lower in calories than their alcoholic counterparts, they often contain incredibly high levels of sugar. When you compare the sugar content of most non-alc beers, you won’t see much difference compared to a soft drink or other alcoholic drink. Some other non-alc beer brands add in artificial sweeteners to boost the flavours of their beers. However, when non-alc beer is brewed, naturally most of the sugar gets fermented out of the final product. That’s the case with Parc Pils. We wanted to chase the crisp, dry taste of a classic Pilsner and knew that adding any sweetener would give a strange artificial taste that we so desperately wanted to avoid.
So, although we can say that non-alcoholic beers overall definitely have an advantage over full-strength beers health-wise, it’s not always the case that any non-alc beer will be an overall healthy drink in itself. Checking the nutritional info of different non-alc brands will give you some insight into how closely they’re trying to stick to the natural brewing process. Or, you could just skip that research and stick with Parc ;) Either way, there are plenty of health reasons to opt for a non-alcoholic beer and fear beer belly no more.
(images from unsplash)