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How Much Sugar Is in Beer? Beer Sugar Content Explained

If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your figure, you’re probably following a healthy diet. Of course, there are plenty of temptations to cheat on that diet — particularly when you’re out with friends and feel like cracking open a cold beer. But how much sugar is in beer? Read on to find out more.

Does beer have sugar? 

The simple answer is no, beer does not contain sugar. This is surprising to many people because beer has a reputation as a beverage that will pack on the pounds and stretch out your waistline, creating the dreaded beer belly. But if we look at how the drink is made, you’ll understand why beer’s sugar content is nonexistent. 

Beer is made from water, grain, hops, and yeast. The grain — which is usually malted barley — is the source of the sugar. On its own, it’s quite sweet. This is where the yeast comes in; these microorganisms enable the fermentation of the sugars in the malted barley, forming alcohol. The hops add the bitterness that is characteristic of beer. 

So, does beer have sugar in it? This process shows us that the sugar in beer is actually turned into alcohol. So beer doesn’t have sugar exactly, but it does have carbohydrates.

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What has more sugar, beer or wine?

If you’re considering another alcoholic beverage to replace beer, wine might be at the top of your list. If so, you might be wondering how the amount of sugar in wine compares to beer sugar.

While we’ve already established that beer doesn’t contain sugar, the same can’t be said for wine. A single serving of standard table wine has just over a gram of sugar in it. However, there are many varieties of wines, so their sugar levels vary. The sweeter the wine, the greater the sugar content.

If we look at the way wine is made, this disparity in sugar levels makes more sense. Wineries make wine by fermenting grapes. If the skins are left on, we get red wine. White wine is the result when they only ferment the grape juice. This fermentation process will use most of the sugar present in the grapes.

However, some wines are much sweeter than others. This is because the winemaker can add sugar to change the taste of the wine. Dessert wines, for example, contain eight grams of sugar in a single serving. Similarly, a white Zinfandel Rosé can clock in at five grams of sugar per serving.

So if you’re comparing how much sugar is in a can of beer versus a glass of wine, you’ll find the beer has less sugar.

While the sugar content in beer is zero, other alcoholic drinks can contain a lot of sugar, especially mixed drinks and liqueurs. The former includes popular choices like daiquiris, margaritas, and piña coladas. Some mixed drinks even have soda added to them, which can affect your teeth. As a result, mixed drinks can contain as much as 30 grams of sugar in just one serving. The liqueurs also contain sugar added by the distiller to enhance the flavor and taste.

Consuming sugar in large quantities can easily lead to weight gain, which can lead to certain medical conditions. Many people tend to enjoy several drinks in a sitting, consuming large amounts of sugar without even realizing it.

This high intake of sugar can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. People with this condition have blood sugar levels that are too high for their insulin production to control. The development or worsening of this kind of diabetes is one of the most serious dangers of consuming too much sugar.

Can you drink beer while dieting?

Sure, you can, but should you? Generally, the purpose of a diet is to cut the calories you’re consuming. Earlier, we discussed the amount of sugar in beer and found that this alcoholic beverage contains none — but that doesn’t mean it’s low in calories.

The reality is that beer contains quite a few calories, owing to its large amount of carbohydrates. Beer contains a relatively small percentage of alcohol because not all the carbohydrates are fermented. In contrast, liquors like vodka and gin contain no sugar and fewer carbohydrates because almost all of them are fermented.

If you’re watching your calorie intake, it’s important to factor in liquid calories. In fact, drinking a few beers a day can add hundreds of unnecessary calories.

Some people practice certain diets to support different goals and needs besides weight loss. It’s important to follow a healthy, balanced diet when you’re pregnant. However, pregnancy usually brings cravings for certain foods. Alcohol isn’t good for a developing baby, so it’s best not to drink beer during pregnancy — or any other alcoholic drink.

Interestingly, some studies have shown contradictory information regarding moderate alcohol intake and periods. Several studies found no definite connection between moderate alcohol intake and the regularity of a person’s cycle. However, clear research has indicated that binge drinking and chronic alcohol abuse can interfere with a cycle’s regularity. For these reasons, along with others, some people choose to avoid alcohol entirely.

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Amerine, Maynard A. “Wine.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 12 Nov. 2020, www.britannica.com/topic/wine.

“Liqueur.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/liqueur.

Thomas, Alan T. “Distilled spirit.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/distilled-spirit/Producing-the-mash.

Schliep, Karen C et al. “Alcohol intake, reproductive hormones, and menstrual cycle function: a prospective cohort study.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 102,4 (2015): 933-42. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.102160

Lyngsø, J et al. “Moderate alcohol intake and menstrual cycle characteristics.” Human reproduction (Oxford, England) vol. 29,2 (2014): 351-8. doi:10.1093/humrep/det417

Bae, J., Park, S. & Kwon, JW. “Factors associated with menstrual cycle irregularity and menopause.” BMC Women's Health 18, 36 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-018-0528-x

Mello, N K. “Effects of alcohol abuse on reproductive function in women.” Recent developments in alcoholism : an official publication of the American Medical Society on Alcoholism, the Research Society on Alcoholism, and the National Council on Alcoholism vol. 6 (1988): 253-76. doi:10.1007/978-1-4615-7718-8_14

Hahn, Kristen A et al. “Correlates of menstrual cycle characteristics among nulliparous Danish women.” Clinical epidemiology vol. 5 311-9. 19 Aug. 2013, doi:10.2147/CLEP.S46712

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