Have you ever noticed that every time you binge eat or indulge in food and drinks, the first body part to speak of your indulgence is your tummy? Our waistlines do a good job of warning us when we have been overdoing the eating game when it comes to weight gain. Ever wondered why is it so? What is the special connection between belly fat and weight gain? If you’ve found yourself racking your brains over this, don’t worry we are here to help you lose your belly fat and also understand the semantics behind it. Read on to find out more about beer belly and ways to get rid of it.
What Is A Beer Belly?
Turns out, a beer belly is not just a clever way of saying that you have a protruding stomach. It has been observed that people (mostly men) who are habitual beer drinkers have a tendency to grow a paunch as they grow older. And it is not just beer drinkers who are seen with a paunch, sometimes it’s teetotallers too. In that case, how do you determine if you have a beer belly? Well, if your belly circumference is more than 35 inches (in case of women) or 40 inches (in case of men), then you have a belly that is too big.
What Causes A Beer Belly?
Though it is called a beer belly, it’s not necessarily caused by alcohol. The main culprit is too many calories and too little physical activity. These calories can come from anywhere — alcohol, large portions of food, sugary drinks, processed food, etc. However, belly fat has a distinct relationship with alcohol. It has been found that those who frequently consume alcohol are more likely to develop a ‘pot belly’. The reason is that, when you consume alcohol your liver starts burning alcohol instead of fat (2).
Of all the alcoholic beverages, beer gets a bad name because it is the easiest to overdo it with a beer. Though a beer or two after work seems like a harmless way to unwind, a beer packs in quite a punch calorie-wise. An average 350 ml bottle of beer contains about 150 calories (3). And since you are drinking it, it doesn’t really make you feel full, so one beer easily becomes two. Plus, alcohol also increases your appetite, so you gorge on food as well (4). This just adds on to your total calorie intake.
Why Does The Extra Fat Get Stored In The Belly?
We all know that extra calories get stored in the body as fat, but where that fat gets stored in the body is influenced by factors such as age, sex, and hormones. Have you ever noticed that men and women have a tendency to gain weight over particular areas of their bodies? Well, this is because our fat storage patterns change after puberty. Women have more subcutaneous fat i.e. fat stored immediately under the skin, and it gets stored in their arms, buttocks, and thighs while men tend to accumulate fat around their bellies.
Age is also a factor because as we grow older, our calorie requirements tend to go down; we also become less active and therefore gain weight more easily. Hormones also play a role in fat storage, because as we grow older, our hormone levels decline, and we become more likely to store fat around our waist.
Dangers of Having A Beer Belly
Sporting a beer belly doesn’t just mean that you have some extra padding around your tummy. It just means that you might have something called visceral fat. Visceral fat envelops your organs and spells trouble for your health. A large amount of visceral fat puts you at the risk of cardiovascular diseases, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and many such critical ailments .
Must-Follow Steps To Get Rid Of Beer Belly
Now that we have explained in detail the meaning and dangers of having a beer belly, let’s look at some ways to combat it.
- Exercise: There is no way to get rid of the beer belly without exercising. Remember, if you lose weight, the first place it becomes visible is on your tummy. Make exercise a part of your routine. Jogging, brisk walking anything that gets your heart rate up and works up a sweat, works. Try to do it at least five days a week. An active lifestyle is the way to go if you want to get rid of the pot belly.
- Diet: Let’s eliminate the main culprit, shall we? In order to remove the visceral fat around your tummy remove all forms of alcohol from your diet. If you can’t do so, then switch to a light beer or any other alcoholic beverage which contains lesser calories. Also, try to include as much fiber as you can in your diet. Opt for a well-balanced diet with plant-based foods and lean sources of animal protein such as fish.
- Eliminate Sugar: A part of eating right also includes steering away from high-fat, highly processed foods that add to the belly fat problem. Swap high-sugar foods in your diets with the ones which have natural sugar and high fiber.
- Sleep: Getting a good night’s sleep is also a factor that affects the visceral fat in your body. A study shows that those who got an adequate amount of sleep (6–7 hours) every night, gained less visceral fat over a period of 5 years than those who slept for less than 5 hours or more than 8 hours every night.
If a bulging waistline has been giving you sleepless nights, you just need to follow these simple steps to get back in shape and lead a healthier and more active life. If you have any other suggestions or tips to deal with the beer belly, share them in the comments.