If you're watching your waistline, don't forget about liquid calories and carbohydrates from your drinks. All beer has carbohydrates -- the average amount depends on the type of beer you prefer. Lighter beers may have significantly fewer carbohydrates than full-bodied types of beer. Keep your carbs, as well as calories, to a minimum by opting for light or ultra-light varieties of this frosty-cold beverage.
Light beer has around 100 calories per 12-ounce can. Many varieties of light beer average less than 6 grams of carbohydrates from a 12-ounce serving. Ultra-light beer shaves off minimal calories, but cuts the carbohydrate content by more than half. You'll wind up with a minimal 2.5 grams of carbs from the same serving size of ultra-light beer.
Generally the more calories in beer, the more carbohydrates you'll get. So if you prefer full-calorie lagers and ales, you'll get more carbohydrates than their lighter counterparts. Regular beer has 50 percent more calories and an average of double the carbs of light beer, amounting to roughly 150 total calories and around 12.5 grams of carbohydrates.
Dark stout beer is in a category of its own. The average carbs, as well as calories, in dark beers fall right in between the amount in light and full-calorie beers. A 12-ounce glass of stout draft beer has approximately 125 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates.
Most of the calories in beers come from alcohol. However, since non-alcoholic beer is manufactured to taste like beer without providing alcohol, most of the calories come from carbohydrates. A 12-ounce bottle of non-alcoholic beer has about 130 calories and a whopping 28.5 grams of carbohydrates -- more than double the carbs from regular beer and greater than quadruple the amount of carbs you get from light beer. If you're really watching carbs and don't want the alcohol, you might be better off ordering a juice spritzer or diet soda.
Carbs Per Day
One too many beers can quickly take up a big portion of your carb allotment for the entire day. You need between 45 and 65 percent calories from carbohydrates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains. So if you usually follow an 1,800-calorie-per-day diet, you can have somewhere around 810 to 1,170 calories from carbs. Convert calories to grams by dividing by 4, since carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. This amounts to 202 to 292 grams of carbs per day.
If you have four regular beers while you're out on the town, you'll wind up consuming around 50 grams of carbs, taking up as much as 25 percent of your total carb allotment for the entire day.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Carbohydrates
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Alcoholic Beverage, Beer, Light
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Alcoholic Beverage, Beer, Regular, All
- Guinness: Calorie Guide
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Alcoholic Beverage, Beer, Light, Michelob Ultra
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Malt Beverage, Includes Non-Alcoholic Beer
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.