The Beer Belly Myth – Fact or Fiction?
Beer has been a part of the world we live in since it was first brewed in 2050 BC in the ancient Sumerian city of Umma, which is now modern day Iraq. Since then this malt based beverage has evolved into that frothy goodness that goes into your pint glass today.
A common topic of discussion that beer aficionados are subjected to is the one that revolves around the belly – The Beer Belly.
People from all walks of life are quick to come to a conclusion that Beer causes is the reason many of us seem to carry a “barrel” around our waistlines. The image that comes to mind is a middle aged man caressing his pint of beer whilst patting his protruding belly and smirking at you. Is this phenomenon restricted to the male species or do women who drink beer also suffer from the same condition? Why is it that nobody talks about a Wine or Whisky Belly?
To find out, we need to know what beer is made up of, how many calories an average pint of Beer contains and finally alcoholic content. We then need to understand how the alcohol and the calories affect the body after beer is consumed.
All Beer is made of up of four basic ingredients – Malt (typically malted Barley or some type of grain), Water, Yeast, Water and Hops. The Malts contain the sugars the yeast feeds on to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. The Hops add bitterness to the beer and the rest of its composition is water. Beers typically tend to be 95% water and most bottled lagers contain on average 5% alcohol.
According to the good folks at WebMD (1) – a typical beer contains 150 calories. From research we know that main source of calories in any alcoholic beverage is from alcohol. When you drink, the liver burns off alcohol instead of fat. This body ends up storing this fat. If that’s the case then logic would dictate that wines, whiskies and cocktails due to their higher percentage of alcohol would contain more damaging calories when compared to beer but we forget the following:
- Despite having a lower percentage of alcohol by volume, your intake of beer per sitting or pint is much higher than a wine, whisky or cocktail. Beer drinkers typically tend to enjoy more than one pint per sitting. Remember 150 calories per beer vs around 100 per glass of wine or whisky (single shot). (2)
- Beer tends to be consumed with high calorie finger food or pub fare – pizzas, nachos, wings and so forth. These calories all add up.
- Men tend to store extra fat calories around their waists whilst women store this in their arms, thighs, gluts and to some extend their waists. This is even more pronounced as we age.
So is the Beer really giving you that protruding gut? It is not the beer causing your belly – the caloric overload from several beers and the calorie rich food you pair with you beer is to blame. Drinking in moderation coupled with food with a low caloric intake will ensure you don’t have to keep upgrading your wardrobe every few months. There really is wisdom in the “Drink Responsibly” statement which has become somewhat cliché.
If you’re wondering, I’ve always been a husky fella!
Cheers and Stay Frothy!
JJ The Keg
(1) – http://goo.gl/Iqy5It
(2) – http://goo.gl/XclBPH
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