The 12 best low-carb and non-alcoholic beers

These alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are low in carbs but don’t taste watered down and won’t spike blood glucose.

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If you’re trying to eat carbs in a healthy way, chances are you’ve already cut back on refined grains and desserts high in added sugars. These are smart steps, but are you overlooking liquid carbs, like beer? That cold, refreshing brew can contain almost as many carbs as a slice of white bread, with 12 grams per 12-ounce pour.

What’s more, excessive alcohol use can take a toll on metabolic health by promoting inflammation and insulin resistance. It can also raise the risk for conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Fortunately, the market has exploded with low-carb and non-alcoholic beer options from both mainstream and craft brewers. According to one industry estimate, sales for non-alcoholic beers rose from $18 to $21 million over the past five years. Gone are the days of watered-down light beers; now, you can raise a glass to the shelves full of delicious options that are less harmful to your metabolic health.

Read on to learn how you can spot a better-for-you brew, plus 12 of our favorite options.

What to Look for in a Low-Carb Beer

Beer is typically made from four main ingredients: water, hops, malt, and yeast. Hops are a flower that adds that bitter flavor, while malt is short for a malted grain. The majority of beer’s carbs come from this grain, which is typically barley or wheat. During the brewing process, yeast ferments the malt, hop, and water mixture to create an alcoholic beer.

Creating a low-carb beer involves chemistry. Adding certain enzymes can further break down the malt’s carbs into simple sugars. During fermentation, yeast turns these sugars into alcohol or carbonation

But not all low-carb beers are the best for your metabolic health. Consider the following guidelines when shopping for a brew.

1. Don’t rely on the packaging. “Light” doesn’t necessarily mean low in carbs. According to the FDA, light products are those that contain at least one-third fewer calories than the regular version. But this guideline doesn’t apply to alcoholic beverages: For example, one “platinum light” beer contains only 8 fewer calories than its regular counterpart.

A “low-carb” label is a better bet, to a degree. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau rules that products with this claim contain no more than 7 grams of carbs per serving. However, some low-carb beers contain 2 grams of carbs or less, while others clock in with 6 grams. To avoid excess carbs, examine the carb content on the nutrition facts label.

2. Review the alcohol content. Research shows that the alcohol in low-carb beers affects the body at the same rate as the alcohol in regular beers. Most brews contain 5 to 6 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), which means that 5 to 6 percent of the drink is alcohol. Non-alcoholic beers can contain up to 0.5 percent ABV, while alcohol-free beverages don’t have any alcohol at all.

3. If you’re choosing non-alcoholic beer, look for low-carb versions. There are different ways to brew a non-alcoholic beverage: Some companies stop the fermentation process early, while others distill the beer to remove the alcohol. Neither process affects the carb content. Some alcohol-free beers may contain as much as 28 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving. When shopping for a non-alcoholic brew, be sure to pick one that’s also low in carbs.

4. Keep tabs on the serving size. The standard serving of a 5% ABV beer is 12 ounces. Although some research recommends no alcohol consumption for maximum health benefit, other studies suggest that light to moderate alcohol consumption may have a mildly protective effect on metabolic health. A moderate amount of alcohol is no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks or less daily for men. As a rule, if you choose to drink alcohol, doing so in moderation is best.

12 Low-Carb Beers to Try

Thanks to the growing popularity of low-carb beers, there’s no shortage of options. But some taste watered down, while others are surprisingly high in carbs. The following brews will quench your thirst without wreaking havoc on your blood sugar.

Kona Light Blonde Ale

With only 4 grams of carbs per serving, this light beer has a refreshing, summery taste year-round. It’s made with pale and caramel malts and features hints of mango.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 99 calories, 4 g carbs, 4.2% alcohol content.
Price: $9.99* for six bottles

Blue Moon LightSky Citrus Wheat

This classic wheat beer gets a low-carb makeover, with only 3.6 grams per can. It’s brewed with tangerine peel for a citrusy punch. There’s also a tropical version made with orange and pineapple.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 95 calories, 3.6 g carbs, 4% alcohol content.
Price: $18.99 for 12 cans

Dogfish Head Slightly Mighty Lo-Cal IPA

This hoppy beer is brewed with monk fruit to add sweetness and complexity without extra calories or carbs.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 95 calories, 3.6 g carbs, 4% alcohol content.
Price: $20.99 for 12 cans

Shiner Ruby Redbird

This Texas brewery infuses this lightly malty lager with ginger and red grapefruit for a spicy kick.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 95 calories, 3.1 g carbs, 4% alcohol content.
Price: $9.99 for six bottles

Lagunitas DayTime

Beer enthusiasts give this light IPA an 88/100 score, praising its citrusy, hoppy flavor and fizzy, medium-bodied mouthfeel.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 98 calories, 3 g carbs, 4.0% alcohol content.
Price: $10.99 for 6cans

Corona Premier

If you’re a fan of the classic Mexican lager, you’ll enjoy this low-carb version. With only 2.6 grams of carbs per bottle, it has half the carbs of the light version. Add a squeeze of lime, and you can easily mistake it for the original, which has 11 more grams of carbs.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 90 calories, 2.6 g carbs, 4.0% alcohol content.
Price: $17.99 for 12 bottles

Michelob Ultra Pure Gold

Made by the company who created one of the first low-carb beers, this version is the first USDA-certified organic beer that’s available nationwide.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 85 calories, 2.5 g carbs, 3.8% alcohol content.
Price: $9.99 for six bottles

Budweiser Select 55

You can’t go much lower in carbs than this golden lager, which contains only 55 calories and 1.9 grams of carbs. If you’re in need of something fuller-bodied, choose Budweiser Select, which has 99 calories and 3.1 grams of carbs.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 55 calories, 1.9 g carbs, 2.4% alcohol content.
Price: $28.99 for 30 cans

Want a non-alcohol, low-carb beverage?

Partake Pale

This light, malty, amber beer has notes of orange and pine—for 4 grams of carbs and zero alcohol.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 10 calories, 5 g carbs, <0.5% alcohol content.
Price: $27.99 for 12 cans

Surreal Brewing Company Natural Bridges Kölsch Style

Kölsch beers are a blend of lager and ale brewing styles, resulting in a light, crisp-tasting brew with a clean finish. This Kölsch has a malty flavor with notes of honeydew.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 17 calories, 2.8 g carbs, <0.5% alcohol content.
Price: $25.98 for 12 cans

Athletic Brewing Co Lite

This classic light beer is low-carb and non-alcoholic—and it won a gold medal at the World Beer Awards.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 25 calories, 5 g carbs, < 0.5% alcohol content.
Price: $11.99 for six cans

Brewdog Non-Alcoholic Punk AF

This hoppy beer is brewed with monk fruit, so it has slightly sweet notes of tropical fruit and pine for only 2.3 grams of carbs.

Per serving (12 fluid ounces): 20 calories, 2.3 g carbs, <0.5% alcohol content. Price: $10.39 for six cans

*The prices in this article reflect those listed by the retailer at the time of publication. Prices and local store availability may vary.

Levels has no affiliation or sponsorship with any food brand mentioned here or elsewhere, and we receive no revenue if you buy through any of these links.

 

 

 



See how low-carb beer affects your metabolic health

The best way to understand how alcohol and low-carb drinks like these can impact your blood sugar is with a continuous glucose monitor and an app like Levels to help you understand your data. Levels members get access to the most advanced CGMs and personalized guidance to build healthy, sustainable habits. Click here to learn more about Levels.