Gut-check time! You may joke among your beer drinking buddies “why get a six-pack when you can settle for a keg instead”, but deep down we know you’re not proud of it.
You don’t like the way it looks, it’s a turn-off with the ladies, it zaps your sex-drive, your clothes don’t fit and it’s linked to a host of life-threatening diseases like diabetes, stroke and high cholesterol – just to name a few.
In reality, that beer belly of yours is poisoning your body and decreasing your quality of life. But enough scary stuff, it’s clear that by landing on this page you’re motivated to make the change. First, here’s the lowdown on beer-belly physiology, including what causes it and why.
What causes it? You’d be mistaken for thinking beer alone causes a beer belly, but that’s not the whole story. The real culprit is excess calories. Food, alcohol, sugary drinks and super-size portions can all contribute to a ballooning belly. Beer, however, delivers a killer blow by inhibiting the liver’s ability to burn fat. And with each glass delivering 150 calories (not too mention the snacks on-hand at the bar), it’s easy to end up with serious calorie overload.
Why the belly? You can thank your genetics and masculinity for that. Unlike women who store fat on their hips/bum, men are genetically predisposed to store excess fat in their belly. Getting older is also bad news for your belly thanks to a natural drop-off in fat-burning hormones like testosterone and a decrease in activity levels.
But it’s not all bad news, transforming that keg into a six pack is easy with the right tools. Below I’ve broken down your beer-belly action plan into a trifecta of simple strategies and lifestyle components. Get each of one right and that beer gut won’t stand a chance. In the meantime we trust you’ll lay of the beer, or at least substitute in a lighter alternative.
Gut Punch #1: Mind Gains
A simple scale is the key to fat loss. Balance the two sides of the scale and your body-fat percentage stays the same. A swing to right hand-side where you expend more calories than you take in through your diet will cause your body to seek out and burn fat while the flip side will cause you start piling on the pounds.
But before you slap a padlock on your fridge and wear-out your runners, consider this. The ticket to permanent gut reduction doesn’t start with starving yourself. While you may lose weight at first, fasting actually decreases the activity of the enzymes that release fat from the cells. What’s more, the only thing you’ll lose with of endless bouts of long, boring cardio is your motivation.
Gut punch #2: Get moving
Getting active plays a pivotal role in whipping your belly into shape. But, it doesn’t have to involve the mind-numbing thought of grinding away on the treadmill for hours. If you’re just starting out, the main goal is just to get moving a few times a week. Get out and go for a walk, hit the beach, the park – anything that gets your heart pumping. This will give your metabolism a healthy boost and help burn off the booze. Keep it up and you’ll quickly gain confidence and improve your fitness level. From there, you can then add in more advanced principles, like interval training, to accelerate your results. You can tap into these benefits any way you want – cycling, jogging, skipping – whatever your style.
Gut punch #3: Hit the weights
Your muscles are your body’s own built-in natural fat burners, so take advantage of them by pumping some iron. If the only curls you’ve done recently is with a beer can in your hand, don’t worry. You don’t need to lift heavy or get caught-up in fancy techniques to reap the benefits. All you need is a pair of adjustable dumbbells, even your own body-weight will do.
To get the most bang for you buck, don’t bother with ab exercises, like the crunch. Stick with compound, multi-joint exercises, including press up’s, dips, squats, lunges, pull up’s and chest presses. These exercises use large amounts of muscle, which helps burn more belly fat both during and after your workout and stimulate the production of testosterone and human growth hormone – 2 potent fat burners. Aim for a couple of 1/2hr workout sessions a week to start out before gradually increasing intensity, frequency and exercise difficulty.
Beer belly couch-blaster workout: Exercise burns calories and increases lean muscle mass which increases your resting metabolic rate. But who’s got time the time? After all, working out is hard and who wouldn’t rather spend time chilling out watching TV at home.
Well, now you can do both! Here’s a creative 15 minute full body workout from Peter Carvell that you can do from your couch at home. There’s never been a better excuse to watch the game. Simply use halftime as your workout-window, grab some healthy fat burning snacks and watch your belly shrink!
You can do the workout as often as you like, though if you’re just starting out 2-3 times a week is great. If you struggle to keep pace, simply adjust the difficulty by decreasing the number of sets and reps and increasing the rest period. Finally, if you struggle with any of the movements, use easier variations (i.e. for the elevated, single-leg push-up, just perform a standard push-up off the floor).
Gut Punch #4: Eat right
If you follow to the principles above but remain a few cans shy of a six-pack, the choices you make inside and outside the kitchen may be sabotaging your success. To help you get your diet on track, just follow this advice; you’ll quickly discover that everything else is just details.
Instead of giving you the usual riff about counting calories, one of the fastest ways to lose fat is to cut back (not out) on sugar. Excess sugar makes you fat, plain and simple, so steer clear of the usual suspects – processed goods, soda/energy drinks and alcohol. The leftovers from this sugar embargo – lean meats, fresh fruits & vegetables, whole grain bread, rice & high fiber cereals – should form the backbone of your eating plan.
What’s more, with these natural, healthy food sources, you’ll quickly discover that cooking for yourself not only provides the self assurance of using fresh & healthy ingredients, but the gateway to keeping your gut in check – for good.
Don’t cut the fat: Not only is enforcing a total fat restriction in your diet impractical, it’s the fastest way to deflate your motivation. After all, fat keeps you feeling full and adds flavor. Remember, your body doesn’t discriminate between high fat & low fat diets, rather it focuses on total caloric intake and stores/burns fat accordingly.
So while this doesn’t give you the excuse to fill up on fast-food every night of the week, it does leave you free to splurge occasionally and enjoy the healthy fats found in natural oils (olive & avocado) and protein sources (meat, fish and dairy).