Beer and the belly
Here’s what sometimes happens: People drink a lot of beer in their youth, they begin to pack on a ‘midsection trophy’, and when they grow older, they blame it on age. But the rest of us look at them and blame it on the beer. A lot of beer drinkers have big bellies, there’s no question about that. But there is no real proven specific connection between beer and your stomach. Beer just contains a lot of calories, and since it is not as strong as hard liquor, we tend to drink too much at once. So it’s back to the caloric content. And since our bodies choose where to store the fat from tons of calorie consumption, it could choose to store it in our midsections. Also, beer does contain some gas, which causes bloating just like it does with soda. Calories and carbonation; it is as simple as that.
Now, if you do participate in some form of exercise, chances are that you have a lower risk of getting that midsection trophy. But in the end, it all depends on how many beers you regularly consume versus how many calories you regularly burn. The average beer contains about 140 calories. With this, I don’t mean the phenomenally large bottles I see in some stores, but the regular size of a 12 fl oz bottle of beer.
Health risks of the beer belly
However, even with the knowledge that beer bellies are not classified as physically appealing, some men (sorry to pick on you boys, but you are the greatest offenders) may say, “What if I don’t care? What’s wrong with having a beer belly anyway?” There are actually a few health risks specifically connected to the beer belly. Extra fat in the hips is generally considered safer than extra fat in the belly when we consider health risks. Calculated using a measuring tape, women with a waist size of more than 35 inches, and men with a waist size of more than 40 inches are considered a much higher health risk than people with smaller bellies. In Japan, because they had associated waist size to a lot of health risks, they started measuring the sizes of their citizens, and mandating corporations to ensure that their employees with larger waist sizes follow a recommended diet program to reduce their waist size, or get fined. That’s a little extreme, but you get how important it is to recognize that a bigger belly has associated risks.
People with beer bellies tend to have a higher risk of contracting obesity and heart-related health conditions such as the following:
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Heart disease
What you can do about it now
No excuses. You can lose that belly fat if you try. Unfortunately, our bodies are not programmed to lose weight only in one spot when we exercise, but we can always work out our whole bodies, and hope that we’ll lose the belly fat first. If you have a beer belly, and the rest of your body is not considered overweight, you may be lucky and lose the belly fat first. So what specifically can you do? First, reduce your beer consumption and in turn, your overall daily calorie consumption would go down too. Start eating healthier options that contain fewer calories, but make sure you are consuming enough to still be physically active and perform your daily functions. So don’t starve your body of the energy it needs. Second, you have to exercise. To lose the gut, you need to engage in cardiovascular exercises like running, cycling, aerobics, or my personal favorite, swimming. In addition to cardiovascular exercises, do some weight lifting and strength training exercises like sit-ups, push-ups (yes, push-ups are good for your abs too), and leg raises.
But beer bellies can be hard to lose sometimes, so be patient, stick to the plan, and you’ll notice the difference in time!
For health tips, catch me on twitter @eightsnweights.