Beer Bellies and Fitness Do Not Go Hand-in-Hand

You’re kicking your butt trying to stay fit, working out at the gym, running laps around the track and playing tennis whenever you have the free time. But, what do you do after hours? Kick back with the fellas and throw back a few buds? Wrong answer! If you want to be fit, that is. Everyone knows that beer can lead to a beer belly, but it’s not just the unsightly accumulation of fat that hinders your healthful habits. A spare tire is not only an unattractive accessory, it is also an indicator of poor health and chronic disease. That fat deposit around the waist has been linked to diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. Have you ever seen anyone who seems otherwise fit, but has a very large (pregnant-looking) belly? Well, if they’re not pregnant, I call that a heart attack belly. Avoid it at all costs.

Avoiding the heart attack, sadly, means learning to limit beer and other alcoholic beverages. That’s not to say you can’t have a good time. You just have to learn how to drink in moderation.

Here are a few tips to help you get through your college years without sacrificing your health and body:

  1. Avoid binge drinking – One study found that it isn’t necessarily the amount of times you drink, but the quantity you drink in one sitting that makes you gain weight. So, instead of going out one night and having six drinks, go out two nights and have two beers each night. You can do even more for your health by going out those same two nights and only having one drink (or no drinks), but I think it’s important to set realistic goals. If you’re happy going out and not drinking at all, that’s your best option.
  2. Choose your drinks wisely – Researchers love to debate whether beer or wine is better for your health. Beer actually has more nutrients than wine, including many B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; but I think most experts agree that wine wins this showdown. Red wine contains a specific antioxidant called resveratrol that has been the subject of extensive health studies. It has been shown to reduce heart attack risk and lower cancer rates; but remember, that’s only when wine is consumed in moderation. Generally, wine also has more antioxidants per calorie, which can help keep your waist slim.
  3. Find activities that you can do with your friends that don’t involve drinking. Again, I’m not saying you can’t have fun, but you certainly don’t need to be drinking every night. And when you do drink, since it will be somewhat of a “treat,” you should feel comfortable drinking in moderation. When you’re not working out, you can plan a movie night (no drinks allowed at the theaters), go ice skating or bowling. By finding other things to do, you’ll be gently encouraging your friends to cut back on drinking also. Otherwise, if you become the police officer of beer drinking, your friends will likely just find ways to avoid hanging out with you. With a little gentle nudge in the right direction, you can have fun with your pals without feeling the need to involve alcohol all the time.