It turns out that the role of beer in the devel­op­ment of a beer bel­ly is slight­ly exag­ger­at­ed.

Beer is often asso­ci­at­ed with increased body fat, espe­cial­ly in the abdom­i­nal area. This phe­nom­e­non was even giv­en a spe­cial name — “beer bel­ly.” But does drink­ing alco­hol real­ly make your bel­ly grow? And how is a beer bel­ly dif­fer­ent from any oth­er bel­ly? It’s time to answer these ques­tions.

What is beer?

Beer is an alco­holic bev­er­age made from grain such as bar­ley, wheat or rye fer­ment­ed with yeast. It’s fla­vored with hops, which are great for beer because they’re quite bit­ter and bal­ance out the sweet­ness of the sug­ar in the beans. Some beers are also fla­vored with fruits or herbs and spices.

The strength of beer depends on the amount of alco­hol. The alco­hol con­tent of beer is typ­i­cal­ly 4–6 per­cent. How­ev­er, this indi­ca­tor may vary depend­ing on the type of drink.

(Read also: 5 pros and 3 cons of giv­ing up alco­hol.)

Nutritional value of beer

The nutri­tion­al val­ue of dif­fer­ent beers may vary. Here is the aver­age nutri­ent con­tent of one glass (350 mil­li­liters) of four per­cent ABV beer:

  • Calo­rie con­tent: 153 kcal
  • Alco­hol: 14 grams.
  • Car­bo­hy­drates: 13 grams
  • Pro­tein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams

Beer also con­tains small amounts of trace ele­ments — sodi­um, potas­si­um and mag­ne­sium. How­ev­er, you should not con­sid­er the intox­i­cat­ing drink as a source of these nutri­ents, since you need to try hard to meet your dai­ly needs with its help.

It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that beer with a high­er alco­hol con­tent has more calo­ries, since alco­hol pro­vides about 7 kcal per gram. This is more than car­bo­hy­drates and pro­teins (4 kcal per gram), but low­er than fats (9 kcal per gram).

How does beer lead to obesity?

As you know, obe­si­ty devel­ops when a per­son con­sumes more calo­ries from food than he expends. At the same time, it is not so impor­tant which foods these calo­ries come from. And the so-called beer bel­ly is no excep­tion. A study con­duct­ed in 2011 proves that drink­ing large amounts of alco­hol influ­ences weight gain.

Beer increas­es calo­rie intake. On a gram-by-gram basis, beer con­tains about the same amount of calo­ries as soft drinks, mak­ing it an easy way to add calo­ries to your diet. A 2010 study shows that ener­gy con­sumed in the form of alco­hol com­ple­ments ener­gy obtained from oth­er food sources, result­ing in short-term pas­sive ener­gy expen­di­ture when drink­ing alco­hol. In addi­tion, drink­ing alco­hol can increase your appetite, lead­ing to overeat­ing. Thus, drink­ing beer reg­u­lar­ly can add a sig­nif­i­cant amount of calo­ries to your diet.

Beer can slow down fat burn­ing. Drink­ing alco­hol can pre­vent your body from burn­ing fat. This hap­pens because your body pri­or­i­tizes break­ing down alco­hol over oth­er fuel sources, includ­ing stored fat. There­fore, reg­u­lar alco­hol con­sump­tion may well slow down your weight loss process, or even add extra pounds to you.

(Read also: How alco­hol pre­vents you from los­ing weight.)

Does beer really make your belly grow?

It is believed that fat around the bel­ly is the most dan­ger­ous for health. Sci­en­tists call this type of fat vis­cer­al. Vis­cer­al fat can increase the risk of dis­eases such as meta­bol­ic syn­drome, type 2 dia­betes, heart dis­ease and can­cer. Even peo­ple of nor­mal weight have an increased risk of health prob­lems if they have a lot of bel­ly fat.

Research shows that high con­sump­tion of alco­hol and drinks such as beer is asso­ci­at­ed with an increased risk of gain­ing bel­ly fat. But it’s notable that some stud­ies have sug­gest­ed that drink­ing beer in mod­er­a­tion (less than 500 mil­li­liters per day) may not have as much of a risk.

How­ev­er, oth­er fac­tors may also con­tribute to this dif­fer­ence. For exam­ple, peo­ple who drink in mod­er­a­tion may also lead health­i­er lives than those who con­sume more beer. A study pub­lished in the jour­nal Nutri­ents proves that drink­ing beer does not affect your fig­ure if a per­son reg­u­lar­ly engages in intense exer­cise.

Most stud­ies show that beer con­sump­tion is asso­ci­at­ed with both increased waist cir­cum­fer­ence and increased body weight. That is, alco­hol does not so much increase the size of the abdomen, but sim­ply makes a per­son fat­ter in gen­er­al.

How to get rid of beer belly?

There are no secret tech­niques. The best way to get rid of a beer bel­ly is through a healthy diet and exer­cise. If you drink a lot, you should con­sid­er lim­it­ing your alco­hol intake or quit­ting it com­plete­ly.

There is no per­fect diet for reduc­ing bel­ly fat. Here any hypocaloric diet can help. But we still rec­om­mend choos­ing a bal­anced diet based on whole nutri­tious foods — such a diet has more health ben­e­fits.

Exer­cise is also an effec­tive way to lose bel­ly fat as it increas­es your ener­gy expen­di­ture and stim­u­lates skele­tal mus­cle growth. Don’t lim­it your­self to just car­dio train­ing. Remem­ber that strength train­ing has many ben­e­fits in terms of weight loss.

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