I’ll be the first dietitian to say calorie budgets are somewhat arbitrary — the body doesn’t utilize the same amount of energy (or calories) in the same way every day. There are so many nuances to how the body uses energy; even some we probably still don’t understand. That being said, the calories in foods and beverages can give us a ballpark idea of how much we are consuming from day to day and can pinpoint choices that we may want to change. Alcoholic beverages are a good example, in that they can be sneaky in terms of sugar content and energy density from the alcohol and other ingredients. Beer is no exception, but there are some great options to fit into any eating plan if you want them to.
OTHER NOTES ON BEER AND CALORIES
If you want a good fall beer, it’s going to have calories. Seasonal beers are less likely to be made in “light” versions (which, let’s be honest, sometimes compromises flavor), but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid them like the plague. It does mean limiting your imbibing to one or two beers is probably a good idea. If you do that responsibly, it’s likely not going to impact your health goals. One thing I look for when it comes to beer is the alcohol by volume number (ABV). Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, and these are what I’d call “non-nutritive calories,” meaning they contain no nutritional value (so, no vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, etc.) The lower the ABV, the fewer calories a beer is likely to have and the easier it will be to drink for those with lower alcohol tolerances. All of the beers below have an ABV of 5.5% or less.
SAM ADAMS JACK-O PUMPKIN ALE
The new Jack-O Pumpkin Ale from Sam Adams has notes of fresh citrus and pumpkin pie and is a perfect accompaniment for a casual burger with sweet potato fries or some apple cider donuts.
Each 12-ounce bottle contains 150 calories and is 4.4% ABV.
SIERRE NEVADA OKTOBERFEST
I would be remiss not to include an Oktoberfest in this list, and this one is a smooth lager with flavors of caramel and graham cracker. It pairs well with a delicious soft pretzel topped with mustard or cheese.
Each 12-ounce can contains 190 calories and is 5.5% ABV.
BROOKLYN BREWERY POST ROAD PUMPKIN ALE
Warm and crisp, Brooklyn Brewery’s fall favorite has a hint of spice and is made with real Dickenson pumpkins. Its crispness makes it a nice pairing with mac and cheese or roasted meats.
Each 12-ounce bottle contains 165 calories and is 5% ABV.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ARTICLE > An RDs advice on choosing the best fall beers (while keeping your health goals intact!) via @MyFitnessPal. #MyFitnessPal
LAGUNITAS DAYTIME IPA
This is a year-round beer that’s great for fall when you’re looking for something with a little less alcohol and fewer calories compared to the options above. Notes of citrus and tropical fruits, with a eucalyptus aroma, add to the crispness of this beer, which can go with just about any meal or snack.
Each 12-ounce can contains just 98 calories and is 4% ABV.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If fall beers are your thing, and you drink responsibly, there are lots to choose from and enjoy. Taking into account the flavors you’re looking for, as well as personal preference and ABV is more useful than thinking only about calories — especially if you’re trying to move away from diet-culture-fueled behaviors, which can leave you feeling unsatisfied and increase the risk of bingeing. Just as with food, there is a healthy balance to strike between choosing a beer you’ll enjoy and taking care of yourself.
Unlock an experience that’s like having a dietitian, trainer and coach — right at your fingertips. Go Premium for expert guidance and exclusive tools that will help you reach your personal health goals.