Ah, beer bellies. Proof that no matter how much you love beer, it won’t love you back quite the same way. Just like the mullet is the signature hairstyle for “business at the front, party at the back”, things with your bod might be relatively unassuming from the waist up, (or hips down), but it’s that tell-tale mid-section that gives away your passion for a cold one.
Why is a beer belly of concern? Apart from perhaps aesthetic reasons, it is generally a sign you’re not in optimal health. A beer belly can also increase your risk of type 2 (lifestyle) diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and a range of other health concerns.
It is something that many enthusiastic beer supporters can relate to in some form or another, and if you do want to shift that unforgiving beer gut, these tips can steer you in the right direction. Many of these changes come with additional benefits, such as increased energy levels and less strain on your joints.
SO, IS BEER REALLY THE “BAD GUY”?
In fairness, it’s not all beer’s fault. Excess belly fat comes from too many calories of any kind, but of course most beers are high in calories, which we know converts to fat. Sometimes, beer is just an accomplice – you’re enjoying a juicy burger or delicious pizza, and a glass of cold beer is there to accompany the food.
Studies have been conducted that reveal that beer can interfere with burning fat, because your body gives its attention to working on breaking down alcohol before your fat gets burned.
Research also indicates that men are more predisposed to store weight in their mid-section than women. Over time, as hormones levels decrease and metabolism slows, it is easier to pack on the belly weight. Beer can also reduce testosterone levels, which has been linked to an accumulation of excess weight around the abdominal area.
In a nutshell, beer isn’t the only culprit involved in a beer belly, but it’s definitely a contributing factor.
HOW TO GET RID OF (OR AT LEAST REDUCE) A BEER BELLY
- Find an alternative to beer, one that loves you back!
We know the enjoyment of beer is multi-faceted – it’s not just the distinct and flavourful taste, but also the association it has with socialising alongside friends.
You can still have all that with a low calorie or non-alcoholic beer instead. Most alcohol beers contain 150 calories or more, whereas if you opt for the right low fat beer or alcohol-free beer you can reduce this to around 80-90 calories.
To get some perspective; a Mars Bar is 136 calories, so around the same as a single alcoholic beer, and a McDonald’s Big Mac is 244. By the time you’ve downed a few you’ve almost had a second (or third) dinner. Yikes!
Plus, if you do go down the non-alcoholic beer route, you’ll notice that the taste is still there, and technological advancements how this beverage is crafted mean it’s tastier than ever. You can also farewell other beer side effects such as a hang-over, mental “fog” and so on!
- Make some lifestyle changes
It will come as no surprise that a healthy, balanced diet with regular exercise is your best approach to banish a beer belly (and keep it off for good). Below is a suggested approach – but always consult your healthcare professional based on your personal circumstances!
Beer Belly Exercise Tips:
- Combining strength/conditioning and cardio exercises is the most effective exercise mix for losing belly fat
- Start with 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week, and work up to longer, more frequent sessions (e.g.) 40-60 minute sessions up to 5 days a week
- One of the most effective fat burning approaches is high intensity training with brief rest periods
- If you don’t like gyms, try outdoor group training, or incorporate more fitness into your usual routine – go for long walks around your neighbourhood, find a Youtube video with some quick and easy exercises and do them at home in the morning before work or at lunch time
Beer Belly Dietary Suggestions:
- All things in moderation reins true here! Still give yourself the treats you love (such as beer but in a low-calorie or alcohol-free form). Portion control is helpful too; 6 slices of pizza become 3, and 2 scoops of ice-cream are replaced with 1 scoop of calorie reduced gelato or sorbet
- When dining out or ordering takeaway, order an entrée size instead of a main. Or, take food to go and keep it as a second meal during the week. We’re conditioned to think we need to eat everything on our plate but this isn’t true, don’t be afraid to leave food unfinished if it’s a large portion!
- Make “smart swaps” – a slice of chocolate cake becomes a few pieces of dark chocolate (which is antioxidant rich), a bacon and egg roll becomes a protein rich egg white omelette with ham
- Fitness tracking devices/watches like Fitbit or Garmin etc. are a good way to motivate and keep yourself accountable and set and extend your goals because you can see them in real time (such as total steps)
There is also a helpful (free) app we love called MyFitnessPal (but there are other similar ones that are great too). The MyFitnessPal app suggests a daily calorie intake based off details like your height, weight and fitness goals.
You input your meals each day which is such a useful (and at times surprising) way to see how many calories are in some of the things we eat (and it makes you think twice before you go for a second can of coke)!
- Don’t fall for fads or quick fixes
The internet and social media are littered with quick fixes claiming you can swap your 6 pack of beer for a 6 pack of abs in a matter of weeks. From drinking a concoction of Cajun pepper and lemon water, to protein shakes, waist trainers, and more. One way to be mindful of these suggestions is to consider this: if things were that easy, we’d all be walking around with muscular physiques and svelte silhouettes!
The truth is, most things worth their weight (pardon the pun) take time and effort to achieve, and banishing a beer belly is no exception. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
The good news is hard belly fat is classified as “visceral fat” and this type tends to break first or faster than other kinds. That means that when you do start to lose weight, it should be noticeable around your stomach first!
For the best chance at success, mentally dedicate the time. Then, start with small, achievable changes and goals from those outlined above;
- Reduce portion sizes and replace unhealthy foods with better options
- Switch to a low calorie, non-alcoholic beer
- Introduce exercise slowly and build up to a more frequent training regime
We hope these tips have helped. If you’re looking to make a bigger lifestyle change and want to know more about the range of benefits that are associated with non-alcoholic beer, click here!