Beer bellies are common, occurring in both men and women, often around the age that metabolism rate drops. This causes fat to collect from a calorie surplus, often around the midsection, and often as a result of a few too many brews. While beer is not the sole culprit of the beer belly, if you suspect that your love of hoppy, malty, yeasty delicious beers might be the cause of your expanding waist-line, you can plan for how to cut the fat by changing your habits. Learn more about the calories in those beers you drink and learn how to changing your drinking and eating habits, introduce exercise into the equation, and start losing pounds the safe way. See Step 1 for more information.
Changing Your Drinking Habits
Avoid binge drinking. Best way to avoid putting on weight from beer? Avoid drinking too much of it. Aside from the long-term and short-term effects of consuming the alcohol in beer, the empty calories (between 150 and 200 calories per 12 oz bottle) will start to add up. If you’re regularly drinking several average-strength beers in a night, think of it as an extra Big Mac or two on top of everything else you ate in the day, leading to weight gain. When you drink to excess, your liver goes into overdrive to process the alcohol from those delicious beers you consumed, filtering the alcohol, which acts as a toxin. Because of this, the liver becomes less efficient, and is less able to process fat into energy, meaning more of it will stick around your midsection. Combine this with a drop in metabolism as you age and you get a beer belly.
Decide how much is too much for you. The answer will be different for everyone. It’s important to find your resting caloric intake number and start counting calories if you want to lose weight. Include any beers you drink in that amount to determine how much beer will be too much.
For most people, between 1700 and 2000 calories a day is a normal intake. To lose weight, that number can be safely dropped to around 1500 calories for most people, if you eat a modest, healthy diet, or can hover around 1700 with a sufficient amount of exercise. A couple of beers that keep your daily total within that range should be fine.
Talk to a weight-loss professional or your primary care physician to find out how much to drop your caloric intake to lose the amount of weight you need to lose. It’s not appropriate for everyone to eat fewer calories.
Learn the rough calorie estimates of different alcoholic drinks. If you want to lose the beer belly, it’s important to start thinking about those beers as the calorie bombs that they are. Alcohol is, in addition to all it’s wonderful qualities as a social lubricant, a huge source of empty calories, especially when drinking to excess. Learn to count the calories in those beers and bourbons and you’ll be in better shape.
Beers can have anywhere between 100-300 calories per 12 oz. serving, depending on the style and brand. Dark beers like stouts and porters, and beers with higher alcohol contents, have substantially more calories than lighter beers. Newer light beers can have as few as 50 or 60 calories, but this also comes with a drop in alcohol content, meaning that some people might drink more in the long run, negating the calorie benefit. Wines can have about the same amount of alcohol as a beer, between 160 and 200 per serving.
Spirits usually have around 100 calories per a 1.5 oz. serving. Things like barrel-aged scotches will have a higher calorie count (closer to 200 for the same amount) because of the increase in fats and esters as a result of the more complicated aging process. This has nothing to do with the color of the spirit, but rather the distillation. Chill-filtered spirits have fewer calories, and less flavor. Mixed drinks will vary from drink to drink, but including soda or energy drinks with spirits is usually the highest-calorie drink available at the bar.
Switch to low-calorie beer and only have a few. If you love beer, you don’t have to stop drinking it entirely to start losing that gut. Losing weight and exercising, changing your drinking and eating habits is the way to go, not abandoning your drink of choice. Light beers are usually between 80 and 100 calories per 12 oz. serving, making them easily amenable to most weight-loss regimens.
Keep track of the calories, not the number of bottles. If you’re a regular beer drinker, you may find that the low alcohol content in light beers means you can and want to drink more of them, which can negate the low calories. Don’t over drink just because you’re drinking Bud Lite.
Alternatively, you can keep drinking your high-alcohol or high-calorie beer and make it an occasional special treat, limiting it to one. It doesn’t have to be a rule that you drink swill just because you want to lose weight. It might be more satisfying to have an Oatmeal Stout or a Chocolate Bock every now and then if you want, as long as you’re aware of the calorie count and keep it in balance.
Stay hydrated by drinking water when you’re drinking beer. One good way to drink fewer calories and promote healthier digestion and metabolism is to stay hydrated, drinking at least one glass of water per beer. This will have the added benefit of filling you up, making it less likely that you’ll want to drink more beers. This can be a good tactic both for drinking less, and easing the impact of the beer you do drink.
Take in fewer calories throughout the day. If you want to shed some pounds, you need to change your eating habits and focus on counting calories, to make your workouts more effective in burning away that belly fat that’s giving you fits. One of the easiest ways to do this is obviously to cut out the extra beers and the empty calories associated with them.
Men should mostly take in no fewer than 1500 calories in a given day, and women should take in no fewer than 1200 calories in a given day, for healthy weight loss. Don’t drop off your calorie intake too much, and keep the amount of calories you take in from alcohol very low.
Develop a “calorie cap” on alcohol consumed in a specific week. Stop drinking that week after you’ve reached your calorie cap on beer. If you’re dropping your daily total of calories to between 1500 and 1700 calories per day, no more than 100 or 200 of those calories should be coming from beer. It might be appropriate to give yourself a 1000 calories per week, or no more than 5 light beers to lose weight in a steady fashion.
Changing Your Eating Habits
Eat something healthy before you drink. If you’re going to go out for a round of beers with friends, make sure you eat something first, that will be both substantial and healthy. Lean meats, whole grains, and nutritious vegetables are an essential part of any good weight-loss regimen, as well as effective at helping to metabolize the beer you consume. If you’re full, you’ll also be less likely to drink more and eat unhealthy bar food.
Never drink on an empty stomach. The toxic impact of alcohol is increased if there’s nothing else going through your digestive tract. Plus, the hangovers are way worse. Always eat something before you have beer.
Eating healthy food before you have a couple drinks will also help you avoid the temptation of late night bad food cravings. The Drunk Munchies are a major cause of beer bellies, so if you want to avoid the gut, you also need to avoid the midnight fourth meal.
Always eat breakfast. Many dieters make the mistake of skipping breakfast when they’re trying to lose weight, but the truth is that eating within an hour or so of waking up helps to jump-start your metabolism, helping to keep your blood-sugar levels constant throughout the rest of the day, making exercise more effective and making you more energetic.
Try and eat at a regular time each day, starting the morning with a breakfast high in fiber, with whole grains, fresh fruits, and healthy protein like eggs or peanut butter. Try and avoid processed sugars and cereals, as well as starting the day with refined carbs.
Commit to a change in diet. Focus on consuming less high-calorie fatty food, the type of which you find in bars and the type of which we all find ourselves craving after a few brews. Hot wings, pizza, and burgers are all fatty, caloric bombs. Replace these types of meals with lean meats, fish, and fresh vegetables as much as possible. Avoid fried foods, cheesy meals, and red meat as much as possible.
When you’re drinking, it’s often tempting to have some snacks. Instead of reaching for the easily-available bar food, though, take some unsalted nuts, or fresh fruit with you to the bar, or keep carrot sticks available at home, to avoid the salty chips and fatty cheese sticks that you might normally gravitate toward.
Replace animal proteins with other sources of protein. Legumes, beans, lentils, and nuts will help to keep you full, provide you with the protein necessary to stay healthy and energetic, and will help you lose weight more quickly than if your diet consists largely of meat, eggs, and dairy, helping to cleanse your kidneys and liver, as well as upping your metabolism.
Eat cruciferous vegetables to detox your liver and promote healthy kidney function. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and other hearty green vegetables are excellent foods to introduce into your beer-belly-reduction diet. Aside from providing an excellent supply of fiber and micronutrients, these super foods help to cleanse these organs that bear the brunt of the alcohol you consume.
The kidneys and liver work hard to process the alcohol from your system, and treating them right will help keep your metabolism up, helping you lose weight much more quickly. Eating these foods on a regular basis and cutting the alcohol from your diet will have that belly dropping inches much more quickly.
Avoid saturated fats and processed foods. Refined sugars, carbs, and fatty snacks are the enemy of your waistline. High in calories and in calories from fat, these will make it very difficult to lose that beer belly, even if you’re consuming fewer calories from beer. Foods to avoid:
Potato chips and snack crackers
Bacon, sausage, and burgers
Muffins and pastries
Aim for 30-45 minutes of exercise five times a week. In addition to reducing your caloric intake, an essential part of losing that beer gut is increasing your output with exercise. Simply put, you need to burn more calories than you take in, if you want to shed pounds. The best way to do this is by starting slow and building up as you become more capable.
Break up your routine throughout the week. Come up with a 15 or 20 minute stretching routine that you can do every day, working in some core-strengthening planks and squats, then alternate strength training and cardio workouts each day to shake things up a bit.
Start at your own pace. You don’t have to jump straight into an expensive gym membership to start trimming the inches off your belt-line. With the right commitment and motivation, you can find activities you enjoy that will get you exercising the right way, before moving on to the possibility of more comprehensive fitness regimens. Consider starting to exercise by: Walking. Consider getting a pedometer to track your steps throughout the day, and try and get as close as possible to 10,000–which is easier than you think. Instead of driving a mile or two to the store, walk instead, or go on a few walks a day to break up the routine and get out of the house. Walk at a good clip, slightly faster than you would normally walk. Try and break a sweat.
Stretching and calisthenics. Weight loss doesn’t’ have to mean complicated equipment at the gym. Start around the house with simple exercises that will get you moving, jumping rope, doing pull-ups, sit-ups, and push-ups, using your own body as resistance.
Shooting the basketball or playing a sport you enjoy. It’s easier to get moving with friends. Get up with some of your beer-drinking buddies to lose a few pounds together, shooting hoops at the park, or playing some pick-up soccer a few times a week for an hour. If it’s fun, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Strengthen your core muscles with exercise. If you want to lose your gut, target your abdominal muscles and your core muscle group in your exercise routine. Building these muscles up while simultaneously losing weight is the best way to get rid of the beery belly.
Work out your core at home with sit-ups and planks. Start slow, aiming for a three or four sets of 30-50 sit-ups, and five 30-second planks over the course of a half hour. Then, increase the speed of the activity to add a little cardio into the mix. You’ll be building your core and losing weight.
Consider taking a yoga, pilates, or other core-building exercise program at a local gym or studio. These can be excellent ways to strengthen your core muscles and lose weight under the guidance of pros.
Some people have the misconception that drinking lots of beer and eating lots of calories won’t matter as long as you work out your abs. Not true. Building core muscle will strengthen your abdominals, but it won’t eliminate your belly fat right away, and might even make your belly look bigger as you’re building the muscles. Eating fewer calories and losing a few pounds is the only way to get rid of that gut.
Find a cardiovascular exercise you enjoy. Aside from strength training, cardio exercise will help you lose weight and is essential to overall health. This tends to be unpopular, especially for those of us who prefer the quiet contemplation of a good bar over the gym, but finding something you enjoy doing to get your cardio out of the way will help it stick.
Try biking around. Bicycle lanes and bike shops are increasingly common all around the world, making cycling culture popular, healthy, and cool. Get yourself a good quality road bike and meet up with friends to cruise around after dinner. You’ll get your blood pumping and your waistline slimming.
Get out in the woods and hike. Going on long, contemplative hikes is an excellent idea for the exercise-averse. Hoofing around on the power of your legs and getting up close and personal with nature is the best way for many to exercise.
Try swimming. Getting in the water and paddling around is a great and fun way to exercise. It’s a calorie-burning workout that many people don’t even think of as a chore. You don’t even have to swim laps: treading water at a leisurely pace can burn as many as 200 calories in an hour.
Take the time to relax. It’s not just alcohol that’s responsible for your belt line. Cortisol, a hormone your body produces in response to stress, can also cause weight gain, specifically around the belly area. If you’re feeling stressed, it’s important to take time out to relax as a way of shrinking your belt line.
Make sure you get enough healthy, restful sleep each night, between 7-8 hours. Being rested throughout the day is an important part of staying stress-free.
Many people use beers as a relaxation routine, but try switching to herbal tea or even just sitting in meditative reflection instead of drinking to relax. You might be surprised at how much more relaxing the alternatives can be.
Work a beer into your exercise routine, if it works for you. Can beer an exercise really go together? Sure! As long as you keep under your calorie cap, treat yourself to a brew as a reward for a good exercise routine. It’ll taste that much better, knowing that it’s not contributing to your beer gut. Try riding your bike to the brewery a few miles away, then biking home. Have a beer after a mile swim, or go out for a round after your basketball game with your buddies. Stay aware of the calories, and you’ll be in good shape.
Prepare for the long haul. It can take several months of consistent work, dieting, and exercise, to eliminate a sizable beer gut. You should aim to lose no more than about a half a pound to a pound per week, meaning that it can take a while before you’ll notice results. It’s about consistency, not speed. Start cutting calories, exercising, and watching your drinking, and it’ll happen.
How to Lose a Beer Belly
How to Lose Weight on the Bottom Part of Your Body
How to Motivate Yourself to Lose Weight
How to Lose Weight With a Math Based Diet
It’s always better to not drink. However you cut the calories, the calories in beer are still empty calories, offering you little to nothing in the way of nutrition. In general, it’s better to cut them out entirely, though you can still live a happy and healthy life with a few beers.
Always talk to your doctor before cutting your calories significantly. Ask your general care physician to recommend a dietician and plan for a healthy weight loss regimen together.
Sources and Citations
Cite error: tags exist, but no tag was found