Beer and wine both have a lot of different effects on the body, both positive and negative. On the positive side, a lot of research on red wine (and some on beer and white wine) indicates that one drink a day can help protect against stroke, coronary artery disease, dementia, and other diseases. Indeed, some studies suggest that drinking in moderation can actually help deflate a beer belly and there are even healthy beers out there that are fine to drink even if you’re on a diet. Yes, there are plenty of low calorie beers out there.
See, in a study of 8,000 people, Texas Tech University researchers determined that those who downed a daily drink were 54 percent less likely to have a weight problem than teetotalers. Between one and two drinks a day results in a 41 percent risk reduction. But that’s where the trend ends. Consumption of three or more daily drinks increases your risk of obesity, says the study. So if you can limit yourself to one or two a day, then you can get the health benefits without too many extra calories—if you choose wisely. Here’s a rundown of what, exactly, you’re really getting each time you reach for a cold one, as we ranked the healthiest beers you can sip on.
Below, we listed beers from worst to best, based on calories and carbohydrate content—the two major nutritional factors at play when analyzing alcohol.
First, the worst beers.
Bud Light Straw-Ber-Ita
What do get when you mix a strawberry margarita with a Bud Light Lime? A sugar-packed party in a cup that will cost you nearly 200 calories for a tiny 8-ounce serving. If you’re planning to have more than one drink (which, let’’ be honest, you likely are), don’t make this one of them.
Michelob Honey Lager
The honey sweetens the beer but sours the carb count. See what else is on tap that could better fit your calorie budget.
Guinness Extra Stout
This beer is simply full of extra calories. So opt for Guinness Draught instead. You’ll no doubt be pleasantly surprised where it falls on this list. (Hint: Keep scrolling.)
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
If this beer flows down your throat like water, save it for a special occasion when it’s okay to indulge. (Don’t even think about driving.) And of course, if you do drink more than you should, at least make sure you’re working those extra calories off with regular exercise.
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
If you love Sam but are worried about your waistline, you’re better off drinking this brand’s light variety.
Blue Moon Belgian White
This brew’s calorie-count isn’t outrageous, but it’s not going to help you lose your beer belly.
This one’s borderline. Drink two and you’re consuming more calories than a jelly-filled donut from Dunkin’ Donuts!
While this is a popular beer, the calorie count is rather high, especially since there’s a good chance you’re going to have a few of these.
Red Stripe Jamaican Lager
Deceiving little guy, isn’t it? Just because it comes in a shorter bottle doesn’t mean it has fewer calories.
RELATED: Learn how to fire up your metabolism and lose weight the smart way.
Dos means two. Let that be your reminder of just how much you’re consuming when you’re sipping on one of these.
Extra what? Extra flavor? Extra smooth? Or is it extra calories? Don’t be fooled by its “light” taste.
A good beer with dinner. But remember: Three good beers with dinner and you’ve downed yourself well, another dinner.
Have just one, maybe two. After all, there’s no way around it: Once you start to pound this beer, that’s exactly what you’ll end up with: more pounds.
No doubt about it, this domestic is a classic, but it’s a bit higher in calories than we’d like to see.
This pale lager isn’t the worst thing in the cooler, but there are a number of better beers to choose from.
Another very recognizable brand of beer, but still, pretty high in calories. There are much better options!
Miller High Life
The High Life isn’t too bad for you—so long as you know when to call it quits—which, in this case, should be after one brewski.
This beer is a favorite in Eastern Pennsylvania, where it’s brewed.
And now, the best beers.
Bud Light Platinum
Bud Light Platinum is more potent than the average American brew and has fewer calories, too.
Rolling Rock Premium
Tastes like summer. Stick to this and you won’t grow out of your swimsuit.
Although it’s not super low-cal, downing a can or two of this brew won’t totally derail your weight loss efforts.
Perhaps the most surprising beer on this list. The great taste of Guinness but with a calorie-count in the range of a light beer.
Sam Adams Light
Think of it as a good beer’s thinner brother.
If you’re looking for an American-style lager that won’t break the calorie bank, cracking open a can of Busch isn’t a bad bet.
Ah. Refreshing, isn’t it? Keep it away from the beer bong and you’ll be just fine. And in case you were wondering, both men and women experience “beer goggles.”
It falls just above the 100-calorie mark, making it competitive with the top light beers. Don’t obsess over the details at this point: Just choose the one you like best.
Short on cash? Keystone light is one of the cheapest beers out there—and, lucky for you, it’s also one of the lowest-calorie brews on the market.
Select this beer if you’re a Bud drinker but want a brew that’s lighter in calories than the original.
Yuengling Lager Light
This beer goes down smooth, and with 43 percent fewer calories than regular Yuengling Lager.
Every bar has Miller Lite on tap for a reason. When in doubt, here’s your order.
No frills here. Just a good beer that won’t fill you out.
Light, crisp, refreshing and low-calorie. What more could you ask for?
Popping open a Natty Light may make you feel like you’re back in college, but don’t let that steer you away. Sipping the low-cal brew in lieu of your heavier go-tos may help you fit into your frat-days jeans again, too.
You’ve seen the commercials, so you probably always wondered, “is Michelob Ultra good?” In terms of nutrition, the answer is, “yes!” Michelob Ultra doesn’t claim our top spot because the brand has associated itself with running, cycling and living an active healthy lifestyle. It’s our #1 best beer to drink on a diet because it does all that and is lower in carbs than its closest competitor—and tastes great, too. It’s the #1 Best Light Beer in America.