Now that it’s officially fall, it’s time to swap out your usual summer brew for a hard cider. Unless, of course, you’ve resolved to shed a few pounds.
“Cider and beer are relatively equal in calories, with nearly 100 percent of those calories coming from carbohydrates,” says Albert Matheny, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab and advisor to Promix Nutrition. However, he points out that ciders tend to have much higher sugar content compared to beer—which is probably why they taste so good!
A quick brewing lesson: While beer is made by fermenting complex carbohydrates such as barley into alcohol, cider is made by fermenting fruits such as apples and pears, which are naturally higher in sugar. “All of the carbohydrates can be converted into alcohol, or some of the carbohydrates can remain as simple sugars, with only some being converted to alcohol,” Matheny explains. So, yeah, fermented fruit isn’t going to be as weight-loss friendly as a whole pear.
All sugar aside, though, it’s important to remember that any alcohol not only slashes inhibitions, but also spikes appetite. Just three boozey beverages can slash your body’s levels of leptin (a hormone that keeps you feeling full) by 30 percent, according to one Alcohol & Alcoholism study.
But while hard cider isn’t necessarily your biggest weight-loss ally, deprivation won’t do your weight-loss attempts any good, either, and can lead to yo-yoing. Besides, who wants to go through fall without tasting one of its best flavors? Try to cap cider intake at one or two drinks per day, one or two nights per week.
Meanwhile, try to stick with ciders that are lower in alcohol content—4.5 to 5.5 percent alcohol instead of 7 to 10 percent, Matheny says. By choosing a cider that’s lower in alcohol content, you can save anywhere from 25 to 75 calories per bevvie, which can really add up quick when you’re trying to lose weight. When in doubt, always remember: The higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories. (One gram of alcohol packs seven calories.) “A cider can be very low in sugar, but it will be higher in alcohol because more of the sugars have been converted to alcohol,” Matheny says.
And although alcohol companies do have to show their alcohol content on their label, they don’t have to share full nutritional info, so it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what you’re drinking. So, with Matheny’s help, we’ve done the work for you. Here, the tastiest ciders with the fewest calories and sugar. Cheers to fall!
You’ll get crisp apple flavor with a touch of raspberry sweetness in this semi-sweet pick.
NUTRITION (per serving): 120 calories / 12g sugar / 4 percent alcohol
This cider, made with bittersweet apples, is for those who prefer a drier flavor.
NUTRITION (per serving): 160 calories / 9g sugar / 5.5 percent alcohol
Several different apple varieties make up this cider, striking a balance between sweet and sour.
NUTRITION (per serving): 170 calories / 19g sugar / 5 percent alcohol
This one blends three types of apples to create a crisp and refreshing finish.
NUTRITION (per serving): 180 calories / 15g sugar / 4.5 percent alcohol
Get that fresh, tart green apple taste with hints of melon and kiwi.
NUTRITION (per serving): 190 calories / 21g sugar / 5 percent alcohol
Originally written for Women’s Health