What You Need to Know About Beer Bellies

Is there any beverage that’s more versatile than beer? The malted barley brew can provide a way to bond with buddies, celebrate victories, mourn defeats, and is almost a prerequisite for watching sports.

However, if your waistline has started to expand into the stereotypical beer belly zone, you may be looking with disdain at that pint in your hand.

It’s commonly assumed that there is a direct correlation between the amount of beer men consume and the size of their beer bellies, but how accurate is this perception? We’ve investigated the connection between beer and beer bellies, so read on to learn the truth.

Is there really a link between beer and beer bellies?

An Overview of Beer Bellies

To be as succinct as possible, beer bellies are and are not a direct result of too much beer.

Despite the common ”beer belly” moniker, excess belly flab is not always caused by swigging too many pints of liquid bread. Beer, at around 140 calories per 12-ounce bottle, is high in calories and frequent imbibing can result in the extra calories that lead to a distended waistline. So, in this case, there is a link. However, like fat that appears in other areas of the body, it has more to do with how many overall calories you consume versus how many you’re burning through regular exercise. Your body can’t tell the difference between beer-related calories and extra calories from any other food. So, the answer is also, no.

Why Is Fat Deposited in the Belly?

Calories certainly hold part of the answer, but so does age: metabolism slows down after the age of 35, so you may find that the further the calendar advances, the more trouble you have keeping a trim figure. Another part of the reason has to do with your gender. While most women tend to keep their extra flab on their hips, thighs and buttocks, men commonly store fat around the waist. So combine your age and gender with an excess of calories, and the result can be a charming pot belly.

Is Belly Fat a Health Risk?

Not only is it an unattractive accessory, belly fat — or visceral fat — is now getting extra attention as one of the riskiest kinds of extra flab a person can sport. People with excess belly fat have a tendency to develop nasty conditions such as insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol over and above the already increased risk a person receives from other forms of obesity.

How Much Belly Fat is Too Much?

So, how do you know if your spare tire is overinflated? Use a measuring tape. Keeping in mind that every body is different, a general guideline some doctors use for men is a maximum waist measurement of 40 inches. Anything over that and your chances of developing nasty health problems will escalate. To see how you compare, wrap a tape measure around the area above your hipbone. Make sure the tape is level all the way around your midsection, hold it snug, breathe out, and see what the damage is.

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How to Get Rid of a Beer Belly

So you’ve had a few too many pints and chicken wings over the years, which has led to unwanted belly bulge. How do you undo the damage you’ve wreaked on your waistline and get rid of that beer belly once and for all?

For starters, it isn’t going to be easy. Visceral fat is stubborn and it will take some hard work to make it go away. Your best bet is to use a multi-pronged attack: consume fewer calories (including those brewskies) and start moving your body. Fat-burning, or aerobic, exercise is going to be your biggest ally in the war against the beer belly. Run, walk, swim, bike, play sports — you can do nearly anything as long as you’re building up a sweat. Try to exercise five times a week for at least 30 minutes each session.

It’s always a good idea to augment fat-burning exercise with strength training, but start slowly and give your muscles a day or two of rest between weight training. Also, no matter what those late-night infomercials tell you, there’s no way to spot-train a beer belly into submission. No amount of sit-ups is going to give you washboard abs if your stomach is buried under a layer of fat — your muscles will be getting stronger, but they will also be invisible because they’re covered by flab.

Beer or Bust

Beer belly, pot belly, muffin top, love handles; you can use whichever cutesy nickname you like to describe that paunch around your middle, but it all boils down to the same unpleasant reality known as belly fat.

If you’re one of the lucky men who have danced through life paunch free so far, don’t think you’re safe from developing a beer belly. The best way to prevent flab from making a home on your waistline is to live as if you’re trying to get rid of it. Eat healthy foods, stay active and when you indulge in alcohol, do so in moderation. This should go a long way toward making sure the dreaded beer belly stays far away from you.