AskHuyen #4: "Beer Bellies"

A topic/question you want covered by AskHuyen: 

"Beer Bellies"

Details/Specific Questions: 

"What do you like to drink is a common question that comes up amongst my friends and I. I always tell people I like wine and hard alcohol! Sometimes guys have beer bellies and they tell me they love beer. But I wouldn't risk my flat stomach to drink beer. Can you discuss the physique effects of drinking beer and alcohol in general?

I love my figure personally but is it common to gain weight from any type of consistent alcohol consumption? I eat pretty healthy and drink lots of water. I also enjoy working out to the max."


Whether you’re still on Frat Row, feel obligated to attend Team Happy Hours or just have a glass of wine welcoming you home each night, an overwhelming amount of Americans consume alcohol at some point in their lives (87.6% to be specific) The term “beer belly” suggests a perception that certain alcohols put people at a lower risk for weight gain than others. We’ll quickly clarify the concept of general weight gain- noting if the type of alcohol matters, before going into how alcohol may or may not contribute to the dreaded “beer belly". 

What makes you gain weight? Intaking more calories that your body uses. If you have a great work out every day of the week, but binge drink heavily on the weekends; it is still possible to gain weight over time. Even after eating all your fruits and veggies according to your preferred dietary guidelines, you could still literally tip the scale because of those glasses of wine. It boils down to what your net calories look like. To keep this simple, say your calories burned for the day equal 2300, and calories eaten for the same day equal 2300. Now, you come home ready to unwind, sit down in from of the TV, and throw back a few beers. Those excess calories can contribute to weight gain.

Seeing as it’s the calories that determine weight gain, and all alcohol has calories, it doesn’t really matter what type of alcohol you drink. A small shot of some liquors can have the same amount of calories as a bottle of beer. The same goes for certain types of wines. 


Some research suggests beer in particular may be associated with weight gain, because of a socialized link between beer and food, i.e. being the quintessential complement to pizza and hot wings at the upcoming Super Bowl party. This also holds true for many wines, but wine is associated with being more sophisticated and not as connected to deep fried party snacks. The same study looks into the effects of alcohol on activating your appetite, but doesn’t find a clear correlation. 

Overall, light to moderate drinking has not been directly linked to weight gain in your mid-section. Since general nutrition and exercise vary from person to person, what you do outside of the bar will largely determine whether or not you gain weight with alcohol as part of your lifestyle. Frequent heavy drinking on the other hand, not only could give your body more calories than it needs, but does other damage to vital bodily functions such as those of your liver.

So, if you want to maintain both your physique and overall health, keep in mind what your nutrition and physical activity looks like to counter the calories, and potentially long-term detrimental effects of heavy drinking.