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The Low Down on Low Carb Beers

The Low Down on Low Carb Beers

Posted - Feb. 9, 2004 at 3:13 p.m.



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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingWith more and more Americans crazy about low carb, American beer makers hope to tap into a brand new market. On the healthbeat, Dr. Kim Mulvihill gives us the low-down on how those low carb brews stack up.

Michael Poley, Annheuser-Busch Spokesman: "It's been very popular and has exceeded our sales estimates by about three times."

The low carb diet trend has scored big with consumers. Roughly thirty million Americans now follow a version of the diet. But if pasta, potatoes and bread are out -- how can beer be in?

Beer's always been high in carbohydrates. The question is, how many carbs and calories are in these low carb beers?

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, a specialty beer, contains 12 carbs and 200 calories. Corona Extra Premium beer has 13.9 carbs and 148 calories. And the new "low carb" Michelob Ultra packs just 2.6 carbs - - and 95 calories. However, before you go out and buy a six pack, dreaming about six-pack abs…

Jo Ann Hattner, American Dietetic Association: “Buyer beware, this may cause some weight gain.”

Jo Ann Hattner is with the American American Dietetic Association. She says the key to weight loss and beer drinking is portion size.

Jo Ann Hattner, R.D.: “It's like the fat free craze. Remember we weren't eating cookies and then we had fat free cookies, and we ate and ate and ate fat free cookies, and nobody lost any weight."

And beware of what goes with beer.

Sharon Walsh: “Mostly when I have beer, I have hot chicken wings or French fries.

Anthony Navarrette: “Hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches.”

But how do low carb beers taste compared to light or premium brews? We asked a few locals at grumpy's pub.

Sharon Walsh: “I liked the low carb, but I liked the premium beer better.”

Anthony Navarrette: “I’d have to say I prefer the light beer itself.

What's really new may be the marketing. The difference between low carb and light beer is tiny. Michelob Ultra -a low carb- has 2.6 carbs and 95 calories. Miller Light has 3.2 carbs and 96 calories.

And as with any treat, you have to be careful in how often you splurge. Per serving, beer has more carbohydrates than either wine or distilled spirits; distilled spirits have zero carbs.

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