Getting Rid of a Beer Belly

As men get older (and sometimes before they get older), weight tends to accumulate around the middle. Stomach obesity is common among men and is often referred to as a 'beer belly'. Before men age, weight creeps on around the middle and before they quite know how it has happened, they're comparing beer guts with their mates.

Waist Circumference MeasurementCredit: Wikimedia

Getting rid of a beer belly is not easy. The human body is programmed to protect its current weight. To change this, you need to out-smart your body's programming.

Here are some tips to help you lose that beer gut.

Exercise every day. This is essential if you are in earnest about losing your belly. Exercise will burn fat while keeping your muscle tone. Humans seem to be intent on engineering movement out of our daily lives. Cars, lifts, escalators – all mean we have less need to move. If you want to be more active you will probably need to plan. The age-old advice of taking the stairs instead of the lift, getting off the bus a stop before you need to and walking the rest of the way, are all helpful.

Aim for 30 minutes of moderately intensive aerobic exercise five days a week. Brisk walking, cycling or swimming are all suitable. If your time is really limited, up the intensity and do two half-hour vigorous sessions a week instead. Jogging, tennis or a gym circuit are options at this level.

Learn a bit about calories. 2081 calories daily (8799 kilojoules) is a good target for men wanting to get rid of a belly. It depends a little on your height, age and weight so check with your doctor if you are unsure. Don't do anything that seems a bit drastic without checking with your doctor anyway.

The labelling system on foodstuffs often gives the DI or daily intake. This is based on 2081 calories. So a label may state one serve is 10% DI or 10% of the recommended daily calorie intake. Look for main meals of 25% DI and snacks less than 10%DI.

Eat breakfast. Research has shown that, on average, men who don't eat breakfast have bigger bellies. Miss breakfast and ten to one, by afternoon you'll be craving for a hit of sugar by lunchtime. Breakfast needn't take forever to make – or to eat. Try a smoothie with low-fat milk, low-fat yoghurt and fruit, or muesli with low-fat milk and fruit, instant porridge with banana, baked beans or boiled eggs on wholegrain toast. Even healthier is home-made muesli with a mix of oats, wheatgerm, some type of bran, almonds, sultanas, dried apricots and sunflower seeds.

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Eat vegetables. They have little in the way of calories, are cheap to buy and chock full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Half fill your plate with vegies (but not potato. Potato goes in the same category as pasta, noodles, rice and bread and should take a quarter of the plate.). Try to have a range of vegetables in all colours. At the end of a meal, if you're still hungry, eat more vegies.

Add protein. There should be some protein in all your meals. Proteins help build muscle and maintain strength. They keep your stomach occupied and help reduce pangs of hunger. However protein powders and drinks probably aren't necessary. Add eggs, legumes, low-fat milk or yoghurt at breakfast. For lunch and dinner, lean meat, fish, eggs, chickens and legumes will add extra protein while snacks can include low-fat yoghurt, unsalted nuts or hummous.

Watch the snacks. If you're not really hungry, drink water or a diet drink. It is a really bad habit to eat if you're not even hungry. Think of snacks as top-ups of the healthy main-meal foods. Choose between fruit (but not fruit juice), low-fat yoghurt, unsalted nuts, plain popcorn or wholegrain toast.

Steer clear of sugar- or fat-laden treats. Foods that come into this category include cakes, muffins, biscuits, chocolate, cream, butter, sour cream, anything deep fried, anything salty that comes in a packet, soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit juice and iced tea.

Build muscle. If you've got a bit of muscle, you can afford to eat a little more as muscle burns fuel quicker even when the body is at rest. Strength or resistance training will build muscle so lunges, squats, push-ups, sit-ups, weight machines, work with resistance bands or fitness balls will all help. Be sure your technique is sound and gradually build up the length and number of sessions, always leaving at least a day between sessions so muscles can recover.

Save mealtimes for eating. Sit down and enjoy your meal – without turning on the TV. Eat slowly and actually taste what you're eating. Then you won't get to the end of the meal and wonder if you've actually eaten at all.

Finally, alcohol is a rich fuel source. A 375 gram can of beer is about the equivalent of two slices of bread. It is recommended that men limit alcohol consumption to two standard drinks a day. This equates to 1 ½ cans of beer, a medium glass of wine or two nips of spirits. In addition, two alcohol-free days a week are recommended.

If you are positive about getting rid of a beer belly, it can be done. These tips will help.