A beer belly is a term often used to describe a large abdomen. In that connection, it mostly refers to men and usually suggests that the intake of alcohol, specifically beer, is responsible for the way the belly looks. Many distinctive types of research have been carried out which seem to suggest that other factors may add to the intake of beer to make this possible. The peculiar features associated with drinking large amounts of beer can be seen around the world. The tendency increases if you are a man and tending towards middle age and old age. This can also be observed in some women.

However, there are also men, a lot of them, who do not take alcohol of any type, most especially beer but who go on to develop large bellies. The question that this essay will attempt to answer is why. This is of fundamental importance because not all beer drinkers have a pot belly. Why alcohol intake is associated with a pot belly is often noted for the wrong reasons. People who take a lot of beer do not gain abdominal fat because of that per se but because they are consuming too many calories. Such calories can equally come from many other sources like sugary drinks, too much food and too many pastries. The drinks include sodas, fruit juices, chocolate drinks, sweetened yoghurt and ice cream. Pastries include cake, doughnuts, meat-pies and burgers.

These food types have certain things in common and these include refined sugar, lots of dairy condiments and various creams. This is not to mention the high sodium content and the lack of fiber in those foods. As a result, it is not necessarily the beer that causes the increases in the abdominal girth but the amount of calories consumed.

The intake of alcohol may be associated with a larger waist-line because when a person takes alcohol, the liver will use such alcohol as a fuel rather than burn the fat. Beer is also blamed for this increase in calories so often because it is easy to take beer in excess. For those who are used to drinking beer, there is a desire to get high. A large amount of beer has to be taken to obtain the required high.

This is because the alcoholic composition of a typical bottle of beer is so small at about 4-6 per cent that it needs to be taken in multiples to create the desired effect. Such a bottle usually contains about 150 calories of energy and if a man takes 4 bottles, he takes in about 600 calories. At any typical bar or party fried foods, small chops and chicken or turkey wings are available to boost the amount of calories consumed. So also is suya and asun or balango, all of which are certified sources of extra calories.

When an individual consumes more calories that they are able to burn, the excess is stored as fat. Where that fat is stored is dependent on age, hormones and gender. Among boys and girls, the storage of fat is of a similar pattern. With the onset of puberty all that would usually change. In adulthood, the differences are more evident. The women tend to have more fat under the skin than men do and so they generally store such in their arms, thighs and buttocks. A little also goes into the belly. As for men who have less of such fat, the bulk of it is stored in the belly. That kind of beer belly which results is usually more prominent in older people because they are less active, engage in much less exercise than among younger people and also have less need for calories as a result of advancing age.

Maintaining the same pattern of food and drink consumption is therefore a certain way to gain weight. This is aided by the diminishing level of hormones occurring in both sexes as they age. This is so much more prominent therefore in the elderly.

In this article, we have seen what many carbonated drinks and fast foods contain. What does beer contain by comparison? It is an alcoholic beverage made from barley, wheat, sorghum, corn or rye. It is fermented with yeast and flavored with hops. Beer is brewed in five steps and these are:

MALTING: In this stage, the grains are heated, dried and cracked.

MASHING: In this step, the grains are soaked in water to release the sugars they contain and this actually leads to the formation of sugary syrup.

BOILING: In this step of the process, the sugary fluid is boiled and hops are added to give the beer its flavour.

FERMENTATION: In this step of the process, yeast is added to the mixture and the sugary fluid is then fermented to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide.

BOTTLING: The end product, now called a beer is poured into a bottle and left to age.

The strength of any beer depends on the amount of alcohol it contains and the usual alcoholic content ranges from four to six per cent. The more the alcoholic composition of any beer, the more calories it contains and the greater its potential for causing weight gain. The colour also varies from one type of beer to another. The main contents are carbohydrates and alcohol. Proteins form a minute part of beer and so are nutrients like sodium, potassium and magnesium. All these ions are important for carrying out various functions in the body but beer is a poor source of all of them. To get one’s daily requirement of these substances, huge amounts of beer would need to be consumed.

As a result of all these properties, beer is believed to be able to contribute to gaining a pot belly because it prevents the liver from burning fat. It also increases the volume of calories the body takes in. This is a major liability which many people do not realise because the amount of sugar in a bottle of beer is comparable to what is available in a bottle of soft drink. However, the regular intake of moderate quantities of beer which is termed to be anything from two to seven glasses a week at less than 500 milliliters per day, has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the heart and blood vessels.

It is believed to boost the blood levels of “good cholesterol” which is the high density cholesterol as opposed to the other fractions of cholesterol. However, with respect to beer, most studies have shown that drinking beer is linked to weight gain as well as increased abdominal girth and enhanced waist line.  This makes it substantially different from red wine, a regular component of the Mediterranean diet.

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