Research conducted by OnePoll.com has found that the average Brit will consume an astounding 3.5 million calories worth of alcohol in their lifetime. It’s no wonder so many of us are afflicted by beer bellies!
Although we’re known to give our bulging tummies endearing nicknames like ‘the keg’ and the ‘bread-basket’, belly fat does have a darker side – visceral fat.
Visceral fat is thought to be the most dangerous type of fat for your health, as it is metabolically active, which means it can interfere with your body’s hormones. In turn, this can negatively change the way your body functions, increasing your risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The good news is that just a few changes to your lifestyle can put you on the path to shedding this unwanted fat, and feeling like a healthier version of you!
Speed up your metabolism
Metabolism is the process in which your body converts food into energy, which is then used to perform normal functions such as breathing and digesting food. So, the quicker your metabolism, the quicker you burn energy, and the quicker you’ll shed unwanted fat. The question is, how do you speed it up?
Eating food is actually known to increase your metabolism for a few hours, due to the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process a meal. This is referred to as the thermic effect of food (TEF). Protein causes the largest rise in TEF, increasing our metabolic rate by 15–30%, which is very high compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats. So, to speed up your metabolism, try to incorporate more proteins – meat, fish, beans, legumes, tofu, seeds and nuts are all great sources.
Dial up your exercise
To burn fat properly, speeding up your metabolism isn’t enough – you also need to exercise. You don’t need to be a gym freak though – the NHS advises that aerobic exercise is actually the most effective way to burn calories. By doing just 30 minutes of aerobic activity, five days a week, you can soon find yourself feeling leaner. The best aerobic exercises are walking, cycling and swimming.
If you are inclined to hit the gym, some weight training can go a long way in aiding weight loss, as muscle requires more energy to maintain. By reaching for those dumbbells and getting some regular sets in, you’ll increase your muscle mass, and in turn increase the amount of calories you burn when exercising. Keep up a good exercise regime with a balanced, high-protein diet and you will have a more defined, muscular physique, whilst burning off that belly quicker – win win!
Switch out beer
Despite the name, a beer belly isn’t strictly down to just drinking beer, but it might be worth cutting back a bit if that’s what you enjoy drinking down the pub. A pint of beer can contain as many as 250 calories, which is 10% of a man’s recommended daily calorie intake. Swapping that pint for a gin with a low calorie mixer can save yourself around 150 calories. Plus, if you add a slice of lemon, you will get a nice dose of vitamin C too! If you aren’t a gin fan then it’s worth remembering that other spirits, such as rum, whisky and vodka all have fewer calories than lager and ales.