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Updated on July 31, 2023
3 min read

Why Does Beer Make You Fat & How Can You Prevent it?

Beer is an alcoholic drink made from yeast-fermented malt and flavored with hops. There are various types of beers, some lighter than others.

Does Beer Make You Gain Weight?

While drinking any kind of beer in moderation may not necessarily make you gain weight, heavy beer consumption can cause belly fat. Any alcohol intake may be a risk factor for obesity in some people.14

Sticking to lighter beers or cutting back on your beer consumption is best to prevent weight gain. You can also abstain from drinking alcohol altogether.8

Drinking in moderation refers to at most two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Even less beer is better for the body. 5,6

Beer Nutrition Facts

Here are some quick nutritional facts about beer:

BeerCaloriesAlcohol Content
12-ounce light beer103 calories4.2%
Regular 12-ounce beer153 calories5%
Beer with a higher alcohol content (craft beer)170 to 350 calories10 to 15%
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5 Ways Beer Can Cause Weight Gain (According to Science)

Here’s how drinking too much beer can ultimately lead to weight gain down the line:

1. Accumulation of Excess Calories

Beer has calories, and consuming too many calories can cause weight gain. While some beers are lighter than others, even light beers typically contain at least 100 calories, if not more.

These calories are additive to your regular nutritional intake, and the more beers you drink, the more calories you add.4

2. Experiencing Poor Quality Sleep

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It slows down your brain activity. So, you may fall asleep faster, but you will likely have poorer quality sleep and less of it.1

Drinking too much beer can make it more difficult to stay asleep and experience deep sleep. Greater alcohol intake is linked to sleeping less than six hours per night.15

Sleep deprivation reduces the amount of leptin in your body. Leptin is the hormone that tells you when to stop eating. Sleeping less is associated with eating more, causing weight gain.2,12

3. Hormone Changes

Drinking beer can throw your hormones for a loop. In turn, hormonal imbalances can affect your weight.

Chronic beer consumption disrupts the connections between your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems, causing hormonal disturbances that can take a physiological and behavioral toll on you.10

Some effects of hormonal disturbances include:

  • Stress
  • Thyroid problems
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Appetite changes
  • Satiety
  • Weight control

These, and more, are linked to weight issues.10,11

4. Eating More Than Necessary

Drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages reduces your logical decision-making processes. It makes you likely to act in ways you wouldn’t if not drinking.

The immediate gratification of eating is more likely to be indulged rather than suppressed. Eating more than necessary may lead to weight gain.

5. Disrupted Physical Activities

Drinking too much beer causes a hangover, affecting productivity. You are less likely to engage in physical activities and more likely to make poor dietary decisions. Both of these can lead to weight gain.9

Physically active people are less likely to be drinkers. Exercising also helps problem drinkers because it tends to light up the same reward center in the brain as drinking alcohol.9

How to Prevent & Get Rid of a Beer Belly 

Here are some tips to prevent or get rid of a beer belly and lose weight:

  • Drink beer in moderation and less frequently
  • Choose light beers or lower-calorie drinks
  • Stop drinking alcoholic beverages altogether
  • Get proper sleep
  • Exercise for at least 150 minutes every week
  • Practice self-care

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, know that resources are available to help. Contact rehabilitation centers, look for support groups, or contact a mental health professional to discuss other treatment options.13

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Summary

Beer won't necessarily make you fat, but drinking too much can lead to weight gain. It also influences your dietary decisions and exercise routine. Avoiding or reducing your beer consumption is recommended to prevent alcohol-related weight gain.

Updated on July 31, 2023
14 sources cited
Updated on July 31, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Alcohol and Sleep.” Sleep Foundation, 2021.
  2. Beccuti G, and Pannain S. “Sleep and Obesity.” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2011.
  3. Cains S, et al. “Agrp Neuron Activity Is Required for Alcohol-Induced Overeating.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 2017.
  4. Calorie Count - Alcoholic Beverages: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  5. Palmer BF, Clegg DJ. “The Sexual Dimorphism of Obesity.” Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, U.S. National Library of Medicine. 
  6. Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation.” Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation - MyHealthfinder.
  7. Facts about Moderate Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020.
  8. Kase et al. “The Relationship of Alcohol Use to Weight Loss in the Context of Behavioral Weight Loss Treatment.” Appetite, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2016.
  9. Leasure et al. “Exercise and Alcohol Consumption: What We Know, What We Need to Know, and Why It Is Important.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, Frontiers Media S.A., 2015.
  10. Rachdaoui N and Sarkar DK. “Effects of Alcohol on the Endocrine System.” Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2013.
  11. Schwarz et al. “A Review of Weight Control Strategies and Their Effects on the Regulation of Hormonal Balance.” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2011.
  12. Sleep.” The Nutrition Source, 2021.
  13. Support Strategies for Quitting - Rethinking Drinking - NIAAA.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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