Sharing a cold glass of your favorite pint after a hard week is one of the most common ways for people to unwind. Getting older slows down our metabolism, which may lead one to ask how to get rid of beer belly when the pounds start to reveal themselves along the waistline.
An expanded gut is the sign that a healthy diet, lifestyle and consistent exercise routine are taking a backseat to a social life or relaxing with substances that can be very damaging on our health both short and long term.
Kicking back to enjoy a cold brew with friends doesn’t have to become a threat to our health, but when taken to excess the problems can quickly multiply.
The science behind why fat builds up in our abdominal area isn’t complicated: we are taking in more calories than we are burning.
Alcoholic drinks are empty calories, meaning that there are no essential vitamins or minerals that our bodies can use as fuel or nutrition.
Besides that, our liver needs to spend energy breaking down the alcohol, which further slows down the metabolic process. Thus, the excess calories from the drinks aren’t getting burned, but instead are getting stored as fat.
The fat around our gut is called visceral fat, and can become dangerous because it is metabolically active, meaning that it directly interacts with our endocrine system and can throw our hormones into disarray.
A critical but indirect cause of extra visceral fat from drinking alcohol is caused by the short term spike in appetite. When people become inebriated they tend to chow down on greasy and unhealthy foods: burgers and french fries, pizza, hot wings, deep fried cheese curds, etc.
Those cold brews are contributing to higher empty calorie intake, but the customary bar food, or whatever else we happen to fill up on after a night of drinking, are major contributors to gaining weight.
Plus, a hangover will definitely reduce the motivation to jump out of bed for your early morning exercise routine.
How to get rid beer belly
There are many tips and tricks in order to get rid of the extra visceral fat from drinking alcohol that don’t necessarily mean you have to give up drinking altogether, but that is certainly one place to start.
Avoid binge drinking
It is an unfortunate cultural turn of events that the word “binge” has become more commonly used in the context of watching an entire online series of many episodes in one or two nights.
But binging behavior is especially harmful in the context of drinking alcohol, and should be considered a vice in any situation. Binging on alcohol is drinking many drinks very quickly, which leads to fast intoxication and thus even worse decision making.
Keeping calm, drinking slowly, and avoiding taking shots, are all behaviors to prioritize if you spend a night out with friends.
Cut your portions in half
Instead of a three drink limit, cut back to just two or even one. Self-control is a challenge in and of itself, but not drinking to excess is a key thing to take stock of.
This can also be applied to what you eat when out drinking. Your eyes may be bulging out of their sockets for that extra slice of pizza, but you aren’t accurately listening to your stomach saying you are probably already full.
Eat a healthy and filling meal before drinking
When we fill up before we drink, the food in our stomach will absorb the alcohol and we won’t become intoxicated quickly. Once intoxicated, our inhibition goes down and we’re far more likely to indulge in unhealthy foods.
So eating plenty of carbs before consuming alcohol is a way to curb your appetite before hunger cravings can get the best of our decision making.
If you don’t have enough time for a full meal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with banana slices are a quick, filling and delicious alternative that can also help reduce your potential hangover.
Get plenty of fiber
Eating foods rich in fiber, such as pears, avocados, strawberries, raspberries and apples, help absorb water in the gut and flush it out in our waste. Psyllium is a common fibrous laxative that can be added to any drink that greatly improves overall digestion.
Improving our digestion efficiency helps prevent getting backed up metabolically, causing the body to burn more fats instead of storing them.
What causes beer belly
The more conscious we are of our intake of alcohol, and taking gradual steps to control its consumption, is the key first step to take to avoid gaining weight around the midsection.
The most common cause for visceral fat weight gain can be boiled down to self-control, both with alcohol consumption as well as the food we eat while drinking alcohol. If these are not in check, a viscous cycle of unhealthy eating and drinking can rear its ugly head.
Beer belly woman
Women are a bit different when it comes to gaining weight from an alcohol related lifestyle. Women store excess fat below the waist around the hips and thighs.
This is because during childbirth having some fat cushioning in these areas eases the birthing process. But taken to excess, visceral fat in the thighs and hips can be just as damaging to a woman’s health as the gut.
This doesn’t mean women won’t also gain fat around the abdominal section. Depending on the person’s natural body type and DNA, they may actually be lighter around the thighs but a heavier midsection, or vice versa.
Beer belly man
Men will rarely build up visceral fat around the hips and thighs like women, so they are especially at risk for a rounded midsection, or a “keg stomach” as it is sometimes referred to.
Men are also much more likely to engage in riskier behavior than women, which can mean a lack of balance in decision making, or a lifestyle that is high-pressure and stressful which can make them more susceptible to wanting something like a cold drink to calm them down.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that many blue collar workers - construction workers, plumbers, police officers, detectives, electricians - will crowd bars after a long day of work because the stress of their jobs can make them want to drink.
And since women are much more likely to take on high-stress jobs that were more common to men in the past, they can also be faced with this dilemma of wanting to drink after work to “take the edge off.”
Accumulating visceral fat around the midsection or below the waist has drastically increased in the past 50 to 60 years, likely due to the major changes in less physical work, an economy and culture of instant gratification, and the tendency for escapism from the stress of daily life.
More people are obese than at any other time in history, and over-consumption of alcohol has a direct linkage to this trend.
Taking stock of these risks and realities is critically important if you want to know how to get rid of beer belly, and prioritizing self-control when drinking is the first step to take.