Something very weird happened with the “beer belly” a couple of years ago – a kind of fortuitous rebranding. For so long, a wobbly tummy had been synonymous with laziness, with debauchery, with men who had little consideration for their own wellbeing (which, in the age of metrosexuality is a cardinal sin). Then along came the “dadbod” (thanks to a pic of the heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio looking slightly chubby), and suddenly, from nowhere, a gentleman’s protruding gut became sexy. A thing that was almost revered in certain circles.
For me, as a beer drinker with a beer belly, this was excellent news. Not normally one to follow the whims of fashion, it was a case of divine serendipity allowing me to stand proudly on a clifftop, with the soft swell of my torso rippling (like a waterbed rather than toned muscles) in the wind, testament to at least ten pints of beer a week - probably more.
"... I embraced my hideous body, and continued with its ruin. Until now."
It didn’t matter that I knew I was in bad shape it was socially acceptable to be a bit fat because you drink too much. From that point I embraced my hideous body, and continued with its ruin. Until now.
See, last year I turned 40. I’ve got one toddler and a heavily pregnant wife, and were my wife and I to stand side by side, our bellies would basically match. This isn’t a good look. In terms of my health, I’m faced with the reality of the situation, and I have two choices. I can stick to my current course and drink my stomach to the point of damn near popping, or I can cut down on drinking and force my “dadbod” to trundle off towards the setting sun while I work for something more streamlined.
"...I want my wife to see me with my clothes off and not have to fight an inner battle to conceal her horror."
Spurred on by Men’s Health Week, I’m opting for the latter. Because the truth is this: I don’t like being tubby. 40 is no age to be tubby, especially in a world where information about healthy living is in abundance. I don’t want to put myself at risk, I don’t want to feel sluggish, I don’t want my kids to have a dad who can’t kick a football about for any great length of time. I want my wife to see me with my clothes off and not have to fight an inner battle to conceal her horror (or, worse, to snort laughter through her nose). Also, have you read the facts about our beer bellies? They’re pretty damning.
The result of drinking highly calorific alcoholic drinks (not just beer either, two glasses of red is the equivalent of a whole burger!) they’re made up of “visceral fat” a cruel, malevolent fat which squeezes your internal organs and releases harmful chemicals into your body. If you keep feeding these wobbly beasts you won’t just expand physically, you will also expand your chances of suffering from cardio-vascular disease, or type-2 diabetes later in life. Two nasty afflictions that anyone would be wise to avoid.
“Studies looking at beer consumption show that waist circumference goes up along with body weight,” says nutritionist Rebecca Pilkington. “So it’s not just on the belly, beer makes people fatter overall. It’s also high in something called ‘phytoestrogen’, which basically mimics the female hormone oestrogen and can lead to increased belly fat, and, in some cases, moobs.”
Moobs. Let’s not even go there.
All I knew was that alcoholic drinks are steeped in “empty calories” (ie. calories with literally no nutritional value), and this wasn’t exactly going to enhance my bikini body.
Yes, it was time to put paid to my long-standing mantras like “one for the road” or “another one for the road” or “okay, just one more”. Instead I decided to follow Pilkington’s sage advice and get rid of this thing once and for all. It’s time to bid farewell to my dadbod.
My cunning plan for getting rid of the beer belly:
- Do some exercise (running is good).
- Get plenty of good quality sleep on your alcohol-free days.
- Eat healthier foods like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts
… then when allowing yourself to drink (moderately) again:
- Keep track of your drinking using the Drinkaware app
- For every beer, have a glass of water to dilute the by-products of alcohol in the stomach.