Battling the Beer Gut

It’s no secret that beer isn’t the friendliest to your waistline. Aside from being high in calories, something that encourages you to eat more, and causing hangovers that will often keep you from getting back on track the following morning; beer also can contribute to bloating – which creates more of a visual appearance of a belly, but also causes a whole array of issues in your internal gut. I know I’ve just bashed on beer quite a bit, but I’m not promoting that you stop drinking it all together. I’m here to lay out some of the issues that can arise from consumption of beer and some of the things I do to combat that. So, let’s start with the high caloric value:

 

Calories: When consuming a pint-sized craft beer, the number of calories in that beverage can be pretty high. In general, such beers can range from about 200-400 calories. Obviously ever beer differs and, if you want to know the specific number, you will have to do some research on the individual beer of consumption.

To put that in perspective, it is recommended that you eat somewhere between 2,000-2,500 calories a day to maintain your current weight (the numbers alter for various reasons). If you’re eating a 2,000-calorie daily diet, that allows you about 667 calories per meal. If you are drinking a 300 calorie beer, that takes up about half of an entire meal. So, if you are trying to lose or maintain your current weight, be mindful of these numbers. Choose beers that have lower caloric value – typically light, mass-produced beers like a Bud Light (183 calories per pint). Or, if you’d like to treat yourself to an IPA, make sure to keep the calories in your other meals a little smaller to combat that. And, if you drink a craft beer or two one day, and go over your caloric limit, just make sure to give yourself a boozy break the next day.

 

Promotes Snacking: We’ve all been there, you head home after a long night of drinking and either make that infamous, drunken taco bell run or hit up Papa John’s for their late-night pizza deals. Your stomach is full, but your brain is so buzzed that you stuff your face with all that crap. And I’m not judging, in fact, I’m getting hungry thinking about a Cheesy Potato Burrito and some garlic bread with Papa’s famous garlic dip!

The issue is that on topof drinking your calories, you’re also adding unhealthy, junk food with a high caloric value to that mess already going on inside your stomach. Even if you ultimately throw everything up, one hour after that food or booze hits your tongue, the calories are already absorbed by your body and that trip to the toilet won’t help you much. My advice is to plan ahead. Give yourself some restrictions that don’t allow you to add those extra snacks. Only bring a certain amount of cash out with you, so that you won’t even be able to afford a late-night burrito. Throw a bag of chips in your purse or pocket so that you’ll get your fix of that junk food craving, but won’t be able to go overboard. Do whatever works for you – just plan ahead. And, if all else fails and you end up greeting the Papa John’s driver when you get home, just go with moderation. Eat one slice of pizza instead of the entire pie (guilty!).

 

Hangovers: Hangovers are a nasty thing that no one enjoys. Everyone’s method of handling or avoiding a hangover will be a bit different – but there are some tips that can definitely ease the hangover or help you avoid it entirely. There is the obvious method of not drinking enough to cause a hangover, but sometimes we want to have a good time and that doesn’t always work. If I’ve had a lot to drink, I make sure to pop some ibuprofen and chug some water before I go to bed. For the most part, it works every time! You can also make sure to hydrate yourself while drinking. Try to do the one water for every beer trick and see if that helps! It may also be good to keep a note, in your phone, of the beers you drank on the nights before you wake up with a bad hangover. See if there is some sort of trend that tends to cause worse hangovers than others.

Having a hangover is not fun, but on top of feeling like crap, it can contribute to a continuation of the bad habits from the previous night. I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungover, there’s not a chance I’m doing anything productive, working out, or eating healthy for, most likely, the entire day. So, if you’re trying to minimize beer’s impact on your waistline, try to avoid getting a hangover so that you can get right back on track the morning after your night of drinking.

 

I’ve developed some other habits to help keep the beers coming and the weight going, but this advice will work differently for everyone. Some of the things I include in my routine are:

  1. Regular exercise: I try to workout at least 5 days a week and include a variety of cardio and strength training. Exercise will help you burn off some of the extra calories you may have earned with beer.
  2. No alcohol on weekdays: I try to avoid any alcohol on Mondays-Thursdays to limit my weekly consumption and help keep me on track for my early-morning workouts. It doesn’t have to be weekdays, though, just try to make sure there are at least 2-3 days a week where you don’t drink at all.
  3. Healthy eating: make sure you are healthy meals as often as possible. This will help you lose weight, promote healthy habits which may curb the desire to drink as often, and, sometimes, leave a little more room for beer if you choose to that day.
  4. DRINK WATER: ‘nuff said. You should be drinking half of your body weight, in ounces, each day. Water helps your body in more ways than I can describe in one post. Not to mention, beer is a diuretic – which means that you will become dehydrated from drinking it and water, obviously, helps fight that!

 

Drink in moderation and find what works for you. The one last point I will make, though, is that, for adults, “moderation” is considered one drink, daily, for women and two drinks, daily, for men. I can’t remember the specifics on that, but I do know that men’s and women’s bodies process alcohol differently, hence the difference in numbers. I do, also, believe those numbers are in reference to light beers, so keep that in mind as well. Beer is an amazing beverage, but sometimes the tastiest things aren’t the healthiest. Just keep your gut, liver, and overall health in mind when consuming this beverage and your waistline and future body will thank you!

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