But beer does add calories to your day, and often times your drinking shenanigans involve eating more high calorie foods, which can turn into a beer belly.
Since beer alone isn’t the only culprit to a growing gut, you need a combination of certain diet adjustments and exercises to see a change.
If you’re ready to blast your beer gut, here’s how.
Carrying excess weight around your stomach can hurt your health thanks to visceral fat, which is the unhealthy fat.
But contrary to the name “beer belly,” it takes more than beer to make your waist circumference increase. Three major factors can affect the weight in your mid-region.
1. Alcohol intake
Beer alone doesn’t create a beer belly, it’s the high calorie content of alcohol itself. One study found that beer drinking itself is not linked with changes in waist circumference or waist-hip ratio. But it does add more calories to your day (which is the reason behind weight gain).
2. High calorie foods
Pizza, nachos, burgers — all delicious foods that tend to pair well with a nice cold mug of beer. Usually, it’s a combination of these high calorie foods with high calorie drinks that makes your waist grow.
But a study looked at how macronutrient-accompanying foods impacted energy intake and weight gain. The results found that greater consumption of high fat and high simple sugar foods created overeating and weight gain.
3. Where your body stores fat
Men and women typically store weight differently, and sorry dudes, you’re more likely to be carrying around extra weight in your stomach region. Women tend to gain weight in their hips and thighs due to hormones driving fat storage down to the lower body.
Sure don’t, but you should be aware of the quality and quantity of what you drink.
The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that if you choose to drink alcohol, be moderate about it. This means having up to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. One alcoholic drink could be:
Remember, takes more than reducing the amount of beer you drink to see progress. Lifestyle changes including diet and exercise are more important than cutting out beer completely. These healthy habits can help you reduce and burn calories to promote weight loss.
Thirsty for more tips?
- Choose your beer wisely. Often darker beer (like stouts and lagers) are going to contain more calories and carbs than if you choose a light beer.
- Be wary of mixed drinks. Cocktails are usually made with juices or other sugar-containing mixers that will quickly add to your daily calories. If you want to go the liquor route, ask for clear mixers like seltzer water or club soda.
- Tonic water does have sugar. Tonic water is clear, but don’t let it fool you. It contains a similar amount of sugar that you’d get from a soda.
Instead of focusing on targeted fat loss (which isn’t a thing), think about overall fat loss. As you lose body weight with healthy habits, your beer belly will likely shrink.
Here are some key dietary tricks to help wittle your waistline.
1. Reduce your calories
Counting calories can be a pain, but it’s a basic weight loss principle that you have to burn more calories than you take in to lose weight. It takes burning about 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat.
So, making minor caloric changes in your diet (paired with exercise) can help you create a calorie deficit to shed belly fat.
But cutting calories doesn’t mean you should be feeling hungry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that people get full from the amount of food they eat and not the number of calories they take in.
So, it’s more important to limit high calorie foods that don’t do much for you nutritionally (like fried foods and higher sugar foods) than counting calories.
2. Eat whole foods
Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins. These foods are loaded with important nutrients like fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants.
Processed foods may be convenient, but they are also typically packed full of sugars, enriched flour, and saturated fat which can make it challenging to lose that belly weight.
3. Cut down portions
According to the CDC, when faced with larger portions, people tend to unintentionally consume more calories. Just eating smaller portions can make a big difference in calorie count.
If you still want to treat ‘yo self to a beer and a snack every so often, try cutting down your portions. Split those late-night nachos with a friend or just eat one slice of pizza with your brewsky. You can also ask for a to-go box to wrap up half your food or use smaller plates at home.
As nice as it would be to target your beer belly directly, that’s just not the case. You can do crunches and sit-ups to firm your muscles in your abdomen, but it takes more to see an actual decrease in fat.
Increasing exercise is important when seeking weight loss. Here are some tips.
1. Sneak in daily movement
Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away when going to the store, or even take short breaks at work to get a walk in. They may not seem like “exercise,” but the truth is that they burn calories too. Adding those little changes each day can result in more calories burned over time.
2. Exercise more often
According to the CDC, you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity into your week, plus 2 days of strength training. Moderate-intense activities could include:
- brisk walking
- light bicycling
- push-mowing the lawn
- playing doubles in tennis
Those 150 minutes don’t need to be all done at once. It could be 30 minutes per day for 5 days per week. Try whatever balance works best for you.
Want to kick it up a notch?
For optimal results, include another 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. This could include:
- playing basketball, soccer, or tennis singles
- fast bicycling
3. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT is a broad term for exercises that involve short periods of intense exercise alternated with recovery periods. It’s also a time-efficient way to get an exercise in, as HIIT workouts usually last around 10 to 30 minutes.
Adding HIIT to your routine can help reduce that fat lingering around your middle. A research review found that HIIT significantly reduced total abdominal and visceral fat mass in both men and women.
The timeframe on losing weight really depends on you and your body. If you’re consistent with making changes to your diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices, you should see results.
Healthy weight loss involves losing about 1 to 2 pounds per week. The CDC emphasizes that individuals seeking weight loss at this gradual pace are more likely to keep it off for the long term.
Healthy weight loss isn’t a “diet” or a “program,” it’s something that should be ongoing and part of your long-term habits.
If you’re seeking to camouflage your beer belly as you make lifestyle changes to reduce it, here are some simple tips:
- Avoid tight clothing that can accentuate the belly area. Instead, opt for loose flowy blouses or button up shirts.
- If you want to wear stripes, wear them vertically. Horizontal stripes on shirts tends to widen you.
- Lighter shirts and darker pants can give you a proportioned look, but overall darker clothes in general make extra weight less noticeable.
- Avoid tucking in shirts, similar to wearing tight clothing, it can make a beer belly stand out more.
- Choose tailored, high rise pants, or jeans vs. low rise.
A beer belly on its own isn’t a condition that creates a need to see a doctor. It’s when complications arise from carrying around excess weight that requires medical attention. Certain conditions can arise from carrying visceral fat such as:
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- joint problems
It’s also possible that extra weight in your belly isn’t even a beer belly at all. Your abdomen can swell up for reasons such as:
- irritable bowel syndrome
- lactose intolerance, or other food allergy/sensitivity
- blockage in your GI tract
If you find that your bloated belly comes along with pain or changes in your bathroom trips, see a doctor ASAP.
You can still enjoy that nice, cold mug of beer in moderation without rocking a beer belly. All you need to do is focus on other aspects of your diet and lifestyle, by adding in more fat-burning exercises and choosing foods that are less calorie-dense.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, work with a personal trainer and a dietitian who can assist you in making these lifestyle changes to say sayonara beer gut!