No one is born with a belly, but after years of weekly beer pong games, late nights at your crew’s favorite dive bar, and endless tailgating parties, your flat stomach may have been replaced with the dreaded beer belly. Each beer you drink is about 150 calories, which adds up quickly after several hours of dedicated drinking. When you drink alcohol your liver prioritizes the burning of alcohol instead of fat, leaving you with some excess pudge around the waistline. Men in particular tend to store excess fat and calories around their belly.
Before you say goodbye to beer (and your social life) give these exercise and eating habits a try.
1. Lift weights
If you have a beer gut it means you are consuming more calories (from beer or food) than you burn. Beat the cycle by hitting the gym. Lifting weights strengthens your muscles and boosts your metabolism. Not only will you look more toned, but with a higher metabolic rate you will actually burn more calories all day long.
2. Monitor your beer consumption
This may not sound like fun, but if you really want to burn off that beer gut, you’re going to have to cut back. Try picking just one day a week to drink beer. By skipping the carb-loaded beverage six days a week, you will cut back on overall calories consumed and can drink to your heart’s desire on the seventh day. Another option is to drink as you regularly do, but to control your consumption by having a glass of water after every beer. This will control the volume of beer you drink while keeping you better hydrated. The more water you drink the less space there will be in your stomach for beer and all the high-calorie foods that usually accompany it.
3. Get in good cardio
If you want to burn off your gut, you’re going to have to do more than go for a 30-minute jog. To combat those beer calories, do anaerobic cardio like sprints or interval training, which involve intense bursts of energy followed by a short rest period. This sort of cardio targets body fat as fuel and is less time-consuming than an hour-long jog or bike ride. If you up the intensity, you can get in a fat-burning workout in a quick 10 to 15 minutes. By making a point to burn more calories than you consume, you will start losing weight.
4. Prioritize sleep
This may literally be the easiest way to beat the bulge. Significant research shows that getting enough sleep will help you beat the temptation of high-carb snacks, which lead to weight gain. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends eight and a half hours of sleep every night for the best results. While this may mean an earlier bedtime and less TV time, adequate sleep will help lower stress and improve your memory in addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight.
5. Avoid junk food
You may be cutting down on calories, but if your diet consists of refined grains and sugars like white bread, crackers, chips, and cookies, you may still have trouble losing weight around your belly. Stomach fat is associated with inflammation, so eating processed foods (which increase inflammation) will hinder your ability to lose the gut. Swap out your packaged foods and snacks for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods contain powerful antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory properties and can actually prevent belly fat.
6. Add more protein
You know refined sugars aren’t helping your gut, but here’s what can aid you in losing that excess belly fat: protein. Healthline notes upping your protein can help calm your cravings and keep you feeling more satisfied throughout the day. It can also give your metabolism a boost, which means you’ll be burning more calories. On top of all this, there’s also evidence to suggest protein can combat belly fat. And it’s not just chicken and beef that should be on your radar — try adding lentils, Greek yogurt, and oats into your meals.