Americans love beer, and the love only seems to be increasing. Indeed, overall alcohol consumption has been rising for decades, but beer remains the favorite with more than 40% of all alcohol consumed. Yet all this beer is harming our health; excessive beer consumption can and often does lead to a variety of negative health problems, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and, of course, obesity. In fact, getting rid of the so-called “beer belly” is one of the main reasons Americans decide to lose weight.
The colloquial term beer belly (or beer gut) is just another way to describe the accumulation of fat tissue in the abdominal region. Contrary to popular belief, however, abdominal obesity (or belly fat) isn’t necessarily a direct result of drinking beer. Rather, it is the long-term effect of consuming calories in excess of what the body needs to function. People can accumulate abdominal fat even if they’ve never had a beer in their life, but the combination of alcohol and carbohydrates in beer makes it more likely to contribute to body weight gain.
Any time food (or beer) is consumed, it begins a long journey through the digestive tract. Food is broken down in the stomach before entering the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream to be utilized by various bodily systems. The main purpose of digestion is to release and use the energy contained in the food, but the body processes carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in slightly different ways. Fat, for instance, is more calorically dense and therefore introduces more calories to your system proportionally than carbs or protein.
The body tends to use energy first from food components that are quicker and easier to digest, so that means that carbohydrates and protein are often the quickest sources of energy. When more calories than necessary are ingested, the body then stores that energy as adipose tissue. Over time, this accumulated tissue becomes more and more visible as fat carried on the body. In men, fat usually builds up around the midsection while in women it usually builds up in the thighs and buttocks. The reason for this is the effect of the hormones testosterone and estrogen (respectively).
Even though body fat may all seem equally unpleasant, regardless of where it appears on the body, there are actually two types of fat that can accumulate in the body: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat, as the name implies, is the fat deposits that sit just under the skin. Generally speaking, this is the type of fat that is visible and that people are most eager to eliminate. Besides being “jiggly” and something many people are ashamed of, this type of fat is mostly cosmetic and thus harmless.
Visceral fat, on the other hand, is typically not visible and is located in the abdominal cavity. This fat is dense and closely packed around and between many vital organs in the abdomen. While people tend to be more focused on losing subcutaneous fat, it’s actually the visceral fat that is linked to poor health outcomes like diabetes and heart disease. Recent research has found that the reason visceral fat is the bigger threat is because those stored fat cells can begin to function as glands that secrete numerous hormones. These hormones can cause inflammation in different body systems as well as vasoconstriction and higher blood pressure.
It goes without saying that it’s easier to create a beer belly than it is to lose it. Many fad diets and exercise programs make exciting claims about being able to burn off belly fat; they even claim that there are certain foods or types of physical activity that can “target” this specific area. The truth is, though, that there is no way to target fat loss in the belly (or any other part of the body); you can do all the push-ups or sit-ups in the world, but that won’t make you lose belly fat any faster.
The only actual way to lose a beer belly and improve your waistline is to change the energy imbalance that originally caused the adipose tissue to accumulate: the amount of calories used by the body vs. the amount of calories ingested. Only when there is a caloric deficit (fewer calories ingested than used) will the body begin the fat-burning process and use the stored energy in fat cells for its many functions. Any diet or exercise plan that claims otherwise is unfortunately just wrong.
How to correct this energy imbalance, of course, is the big question. For beer drinkers, one of the easiest ways to start making a change is by simply reducing the amount of beer they consume. Since Americans drink nearly 25 gallons of beer per capita annually, this is an ideal place to start. In addition to the relatively high number of carbs in beer, the actual alcohol content makes it even more challenging for losing extra weight. This is because, once digested, the alcohol in beer (or any beverage) goes to the liver to be converted to energy before any other components. So the more alcohol you drink, the less other components can be used for quick energy; the net effect is that more fat cells are stored.
Even though so many Americans attempt to lose weight, studies show that most of those people are not very successful at losing weight and keeping it off. Part of the reason it’s so difficult is that the American diet has become more fat and carbohydrate-intensive in the last 50-60 years; the foods that are most convenient for our busy lives tend to be the least healthy. Moreover, punishing exercise regimens are hard to sustain when the pressures and responsibilities of life are imposing.
At True You Weight Loss, we have seen how traditional weight loss methods just don’t work for the vast majority of people. Instead, we offer a series of state-of-the-art medical procedures that can help you get out of the rut of yo-yo dieting. Unlike bariatric surgery, an effective but somewhat risky proposition, our procedures are minimally invasive and require no external incisions. What this means practically is that you can get the weight loss results of surgery without the actual surgery. Below are some of our most popular procedures:
Whether you have a beer belly or you’re just eager to find a new approach to weight loss, True You wants to help. Our highly qualified staff has extensive experience in performing these procedures and helping people finally find the freedom they’ve been waiting for. If you’d like to learn more about what we offer, contact us today to request a consultation.