How Bad Is Beer for Your Diet?

Having a beer on occasion won't ruin your diet, but regularly overindulging might lead to weight gain. It could increase your risk for other health problems as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend drinking no more than a moderate amount, which is one drink per day for women and two for men.

Calorie Content

Beer is a source of empty calories, because it doesn't provide a significant amount of any vitamins or minerals. Alcohol is also high in calories, with each gram providing 7 calories. This means it is more energy-dense than carbohydrates or protein, which contain only 4 calories per gram. Non-alcoholic beer, which gets its calories mainly from carbohydrates, is the lowest in calories, with about 72 per 12-ounce can. Light beer has about 105 calories per serving, and lager is the next lowest in calories, with approximately 120. Regular beer has 145 calories per 12-ounce serving on average, and stout beer is the highest in calories with about 190 per serving. These calories can add up if you drink multiple beers in a day, making it hard to stay within your daily calorie budget to avoid weight gain.

Beer and Weight Gain

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Moderate beer consumption for a month didn't increase weight gain compared to abstaining from beer in a study published in "Nutricion Hospitalaria" in 2007. A longer, 8 1/2-year study published in the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in September 2009 did find that drinking beer can lead to weight gain, however. Those who drank more than 34 ounces per day of beer were more likely to gain weight than those who drank little or no beer.

Beer and Abdominal Obesity

Studies show mixed results on whether beer increases abdominal obesity, according to a February 2013 review article published in "Nutrition Reviews." Drinking more than 17 ounces of beer per day may make you more likely to gain weight in this area. Abdominal obesity is associated with more health risks than other types of obesity, potentially increasing your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to research conducted by the American Cancer Society.

Alcohol Health Risks

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Drinking too much alcohol of any type can have risks. Drinking too much in one sitting, sometimes called binge drinking, increases your risk of suffering from violence or accidents, participating in risky behaviors and alcohol poisoning. Long-term excessive alcohol use can increase your risk for heart problems, depression, cancer and neurological problems, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.