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Yes we love our beer: We watch football matches with it. We bond over it. We celebrate and mourn with it. But that doesn’t give us an excuse to start blaming the golden brew when we wake with a belly the morning after guzzling one can too many. Our experts take give their take on the myths surrounding beer and the dreaded beer-belly.
Beer is fattening: True
By drinking just one can of beer, you may be gulping down up to 560 calories – comparable to eating a plate of chicken rice, says an expert. With a bottle, you get close to 1000 calories. So – yes, you can fault beer for being fattening.
Beer makes us fat: Both true and false
Interestingly, there’s research that says beer can limit the fat burning capacity of our bodies. The more alcohol you drink, the more your liver has to detoxify. As the organ also plays a part in sugar and fat metabolism, too much alcohol hinders those functions, and in the long term may cause you to pile on the kilos
But don’t rush to pin all the blame on the beverage. Ultimately, we’ll gain weight if we take in more than what we burn – beer or no beer. Truth is – our bodies aren’t able to tell the difference between calories from beer and calories from other food, says Dr Roger Tian, Consultant, Changi Sports Medicine Centre, Changi General Hospital. And because each drinking session entails more than one can – or bottle – we’re potentially guzzling thousands of calories. Not forgetting the calories from the pretzels and other bar-snacks. And those from the dinner we had earlier – you get our drift.
Beer goes straight to the belly: False
Not beer, but all the calories which we don’t burn up from our diet in general. These are stored as fats and deposited in all parts of the body. Admittedly for men, there is a tendency for fats to be deposited around the belly (as opposed to buttocks and thighs for women), says Dr Tian. This situation worsens as we age because our metabolism decreases naturally. And we can expect those fat deposits, and our bellies, to grow if we don’t exercise enough or continue to maintain a high-fat, high-calorie diet.
Belly-fat is associated with health problems: True
Men with a large waist circumference – or high waist-to-hip ratio – are at higher risk of developing health problems such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, says Dr Tian. And if that is not bad enough, fats contain enzymes which convert testosterone – man juice – into oestrogen-like substances, warns Dr Tian. Because oestrogen is a female hormone, excessive levels of it can cause a man to develop feminine characteristics.
The fats may also affect your erections. If large amounts of fat are deposited on the walls of blood vessels connected to the penis, blood flow to the love muscle may be reduced – resulting in erectile dysfunction.
A beer-belly is difficult to remove: True
Visceral fat – located in the abdomen – is very stubborn. Ab-specific exercises like crunches won’t work because they only strengthen the abs but don’t burn off the flab. The only way to burn off such fats is a commitment to a healthy diet and exercise, says Ben Salter, Fitness Manager at Pure Fitness.
Sulaiman Ismail, strongman trainer and founder of SG Titans shares these diet tips:
- Limit your carbohydrate-intake. Sixty per cent of your total carb-intake should come from fresh fruits and vegetables. The remainder should come from natural and slow-digesting sources like sweet potatoes.
- Up your intake of protein. Go for unprocessed foods such as chicken and broccoli
- Up your intake of foods such as salmon and unprocessed nuts and seeds. They are rich in healthy dietary fats such as omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats
- Abstaining from beer is preferable to imbibing if you are trying to maintain a lean machine!
A combination of these exercises will burn off the excess calories and help to reduce the size of the beer-belly.
a) Cardio and endurance work such as running, swimming and cycling to burn off the excess calories.
Here’s a sample track workout session:
- 50m x 2 sets
- 100m x 2 sets
- 200m x 2 sets (reversing the order is also a good way to do it).
Or try this hill workout:
- Run hard for 10 to 15 seconds on a steep incline, then walk or slow jog back down.
- Do this for six to eight sets and jog for a minute in between sprints. Stairs work just as well for this.
b) Muscle building exercises with big compound movements as they burn a lot of calories. Get your gut-busting workout here.