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It isn’t just the beer that contributes to beer bellies. It could also be the extra calories, fat and unhealthy eating choices that may come with moderate drinking says WSJ.com.

A recent study found that men consume an additional 433 calories (equivalent to a McDonald’s double cheeseburger) on days they drink a moderate amount of alcohol. About 61% of the caloric increase comes from the alcohol itself. Men also report eating higher amounts of saturated fats and meat, and less fruit and milk, on those days than on days when they aren’t drinking, the study showed.

But other studies have pointed to a different trend. Moderate drinkers gain less weight over time than either heavy drinkers or people who abstain from alcohol, particularly women, this research has shown. Moderate drinking is considered having about two drinks a day for men and one for women.

“People who gain the least weight are moderate drinkers, regardless of [alcoholic] beverage choice,” said Erik Rimm, an associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the 2010 review of alcohol in the federal dietary guidelines. The weight-gain difference is modest, and “starting to drink is not a weight-loss diet,” he said.

See all the findings on WSJ.com >>

Beer photo via Shutterstock

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