Does beer cause belly fat or is it a myth?
I got asked this question on my blog the other day about switching to alcohol free with the intention in their mind of “does beer cause belly fat”?
Its comes up a lot to be fair!
Now going alcohol free is just one of the answers and to be honest and I would be doing an injustice to you if I sold that as a lie and I said that would solve the complete issue.
It can help but its a much bigger story and more complex than that.
Don’t you wish things were more simple sometimes!
I think beer and belly fat is one of those urban myths that has come down over the ages. You know those sayings that catch a wind and keep flying. So a “beer belly” is not a good look and that the beer your drinking is the only thing to blame!
That is just half of the story and if anyone tells you anything else they are making it up! Does beer cause belly fat well yes along with everything else but it has its role!
So you may be shoving down your throat lots of pizzas and ice cream at different times of the day but no its the beer that makes that belly happen.
I remember it was one of the reasons my dad switched to whiskey as my mum said “you are getting a beer belly Dennis you need to come off the beer!”
My Dad was called Dennis and my Mum is called Glenys which is more odd than beer causing a beer belly to be honest.
So if it is not the beer totally what is it and what about the hard belly that you might then get. That’s muscle right ?
No sorry but that even more bad news!
So is it a myth or truth?
Having a beer belly is one of the reasons people tell me they want to shift to alcohol free to try and get rid of it. It is usually said in the same sentence as “I are going to start doing some sit ups”!
Days and nights watching YouTube videos with some fitness trainer is not going to get us anywhere. By all means hire on one but I have heard too many stories from personal trainers of people doing a 45-minute work out only to head to the pub with a gym bag and go for a pizza or curry afterwards.
That’s the reality so little steps are always worth making and in my view achieve more than just going for the whole slog!
So a beer belly is when our gut or waistline starts to pop over the belt and yes we can’t actually see the belt!
Some people refer to it as a “SpareTyre” or “Beer Gut” but whatever we call it is just fat around our waist that we don’t need.
Its not healthy and can be a sign we are heading towards diabetes or a heart condition. You don’t have to be a doctor to recognize that.
And while it’s not a byproduct of beer alone, any alcohol doesn’t help the cause. In fact while alcohol free drinks can help we are also talking about food, sugar, fats, pizza you name it they all add up.
So is a beer belly not really a beer belly?
Actually you are spot on which is why switching to alcohol free beer is not always the answer. It’s simple – calories in and calories out.
However, here is the thing: by cutting out the alcohol you drastically improve your health and other related diseases. It’s just one of the components.
Let’s imagine if you over eat, any of the calories you don’t consume just get converted to fat. So regardless if it is wine, beer, tonic or even alcohol free drinks, too many calories and we will put on weight.
It’s really that simple.
However, you will have heard of the somewhat controversial low carb diet and it does seem that certain foods spike your blood sugar more. If you are drinking lots of alcohol low carb is not a good idea as the alcohol goes straight into the system and your blood.
As I know from getting liver disease and being low carb, a balanced diet is definitely the way to go. If you have got out of drinking alcohol that is a different story and it can be a good tool in the diet kit of parts.
Now beer can contain over 150 calories so that is really where it gets its name from. It is very full of beer belly inducing ingredients but so is pizza and so is lots of cream cakes. Beer belly gets its name from men drinking 12 pints down the pub and of course their belly getting larger is a good ad for a “how to get a beer belly!”
It is a bit more difficult to eat 12 burgers or 12 pizzas as they fill you up.
Calories in and calories out is the way to think about it despite all the fad diets that exist and trust me I tried a lot out while still being on the wine! If you can take out the heavy carbs and reduce your alcohol then you are onto a winner so some of these low carb approaches can work but they don’t mix well with alcohol.
The alcohol goes straight into your system.
Is it a man thing?
I hate to say it but just as men and women can consume alcohol levels differently due to their physical make up they can also store fat differently as well. I have heard more men being talked about as having “a beer belly” than women and there seems to be a good reason for that.
So yes your genetics is involved in most things and our body reacts to these things differently.
Of course, it is dangerous to generalize but medical experts agree that females in general have fat that instead of heading to the stomach can lean more to the thighs, bum and arms.
I recently wrote about BAC so blood alcohol level and it’s true that there is a gender difference here as well. Of course regardless of our sex we all have different body types and genetics so its best not to generalize but its important to be aware of it.
As we know age plays a role so as we age our hormones change and even females are more likely to start to store fat in the middle part of our bodies (so the stomach) but its just not talked about as much.
Is having a so called “beer belly” rushing our health out the door?
I am afraid it can be true and this is even more stark when we have been drinking lots of alcohol as well.
The doctor on my liver ward would say that alcohol combined with being over weight especially around our midsection regardless of sex can lead to such health issues as
- Type 2 diabetes,
- Hypertension, heart disease,
- High cholesterol,
- Erectile dysfunction,
- Fatty liver disease,
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Metabolic syndrome
- Earlier death rate
If that is not enough to put you off a high calorie diet with alcohol I don’t know what will!
If you have not read my story by way ( and why would you ) I at one point I had 48 hours to live with liver disease but with no beer belly and I was average weight. In fact, I walked 10,000 steps a day.
I was just a social wine drinker. Imagine if I had been over weight with a beer belly as they call it.
I bet my chances would not have been even 48 hours, I bet I would not have even been writing this blog as we speak.
Despite that the worst thing you can do is tell people what to do. In my experience they normally do the opposite. So my whole point of the blog is to highlight the danger of alcohol and also just point out we do have options.
Its why I am not a fan of Dry January as it is followed by a massive binge drinking session for many. It was my most read article on twitter this year so clearly its struck a chord.
What about firm fat?
There was a guy in Spain around the hotel pool who loved his beer belly and good for him. One day however he walked up to me and thumped it hard and said “pure muscle that”. Of course, it was not but I just smiled as I was hardly a muscle god myself !
Without worrying, you even further the hard fat is found around our organs can be even more dangerous and mean you are at a higher risk of health problems.
A beer belly that is made up of firm fat is generally called “visceral fat”
So imagine for a moment this fat is around your organs and your stomach inside your abdomen. It basically pushes your abs out so your beer belly becomes even harder and effectively more dangerous!
So don’t try and pass off your hard beer belly as a good thing as it’s not!
How do I lose the beer belly ?
Reducing your alcohol level with all those calories might even be more beneficial for your health than doing sit ups or crunches every day. The fact is they are not going to be able to move the fat. Its about calories and exercise.
Given the amount of so called calories in alcohol its well worth reducing your consumption.
Start by reducing your alcohol intake by taking action, most people don’t
At the blog we recommend “Reduce your alcohol drinking in 7 days” as a great way to start, just can click my affiliate link and support the blog. Just click the picture below to find out more :
Remember it is not just the beer but if you are consuming too many calories reducing your alcohol intake will have enormous benefits and it will be easier on your liver and as someone with liver disease trust me you don’t want to go there.
Switching to 10,000 steps a day and going alcohol free can also really help. For example if you are a beer drinker many of the alcohol free beers have slightly less in calories but they do contain some.
They are not diet drinks!
The good news is by cutting down your alcohol intake and combining it with watching the calories you will notice your beer belly becomes the first sign that things are changing.
Its the nuts really….
Remember when we drink alcohol we become more dehydrated so we drink more alcohol. Of course, we think we are hungry so we reach for the nuts, snack or kebabs and before you know it we have consumed even more.
Maybe that is why it is called a “beer belly” as the more we drink the more we eat. Just think about it, we are thirsty so we eat some nuts, they are salty so we drink some more beer then on the way home we stop off at the local takeaway and then we are still thirsty so grab another beer.
Its all a cycle !
Sometimes a big glass of water is all we need. Less alcohol and more water is a big but good first step. If you are ready to reduce your alcohol intake at home or after working one of my recommended programmes is below and as had national press coverage.
“Reduce your alcohol drinking in 7 days” is a great way to start, just can click my affiliate link and support the blog here. The full details of the programme are listed. Just click here to get access.
What’s your view?
I would love to know what you think about does beer cause belly fat ? Did you get rid of your beer belly and if you did how did you do it? Do you like alcohol free drinks and would you make the switch?
Did you think beer by itself just caused a beer belly or did you know it was about calories in calories out. I love hearing your views and I always get back to you.