There are few things greater than cracking open an ice-cold beer after a long day. For most, drinking a beer or two is enough to make you feel as though you're carrying a beer baby. On the other hand, at least the bloat as an effect of the alcohol makes it easy to cut off after a few drinks. It turns out that beverages like beer and soda water contain carbon dioxide gas that releases into our bodies as we consume it. If so, is this to blame for the bloating we experience?
Inflammation from Alcohol
When we drink alcohol, it can easily irritate the stomach lining (better known as Gastritis). Together, it causes inflammation, then leading to feeling bloated. It can cause an excess of gas in the body, burping, and mild discomfort such as cramps. Nutritionist Bhuvan Rastogi states, "Alcohol is inflammatory in large quantities and this is aggravated even more because it's usually coupled with an increase in foods which cause gas, like sugar and carbonated drinks."
The Beer Belly is Real
As Rastogi claims, bloating isn't the only thing we need to worry about when drinking. Most of us are familiar with the associated weight gain of alcohol after having one too many and finding ourselves elbow-deep in whatever snack we can find. All alcohol, no matter the type, can be calorie-heavy, and those calories add up quickly. They typically range from 70 calories for a shot of liquor and can add up to several hundred calories for those who enjoy their fancy (often sugar-packed) cocktails. When looking at beer, wine, and hard liquor altogether, beer has the most calories out of the three, making it easier to gain weight.
Dehydration and Bloating Don't Mix
We have all been told that avoiding a hangover means drinking water before, during, and after drinking alcohol. Bloating is a topic that is hardly talked about, as too often, our dreadful hangover symptoms are the only thing that we can process as we come to in the morning. Not drinking enough water can cause an increase in the production of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), causing us to retain water and bloat. Retaining water also causes swelling, typically in the hands, feet, and face. To avoid bloating and swelling, maintaining adequate hydration is a must. Drinking at least eight glasses of water each day is optimal, but be sure to factor in any alcoholic beverages you plan to consume, drinking water throughout the duration.
So, Does Beer Really Cause Bloating?
Beer is, unfortunately, one of the worst options for trying to avoid bloating. As delicious as it is, the carbonation from carbon dioxide levels is bound to make anyone feel like they just ate a three-course dinner after a couple of drinks. Those looking to enjoy a cold one while limiting bloat can look at these charts to see what beer types have lower carbon dioxide levels. For those looking to avoid bloating and lose weight, it might be best to avoid beer altogether. Calories from a beer can add up quickly (even with the lighter options), and aside from the bloating, it will cause weight gain. As far as dehydration and beer, it doesn't make a difference in what type of alcohol it is. When we drink alcohol, we become dehydrated, retaining water, making us bloat and look puffy.
As much as we want to avoid the beer bloat, most will not stop drinking beer altogether, but there are some actions we can take to decrease it. Depending on the quantity and how often one drinks, limiting the alcohol intake may minimize bloat if not get rid of it altogether. Also, consuming enough water daily and even more when we drink will decrease both bloating and retention by maintaining hydration in the body. Try to avoid sparkling water, though, or any other carbonated beverages, as it contains carbon dioxide and will cause an increase in bloating that we're trying to avoid. Try not to swallow too much air as it can cause painful gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. The University of Michigan Health suggests chewing foods slowly and thoroughly and not drinking through a straw. Following these tips will help us reduce bloating, not only when we crack open a cold one, but throughout the day overall.