Written by C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD
Science is showing that a “beer belly” isn’t a superficial problem. It’s a major health risk. Centrally placed body fat is unhealthier than body fat that’s evenly distributed or located mainly on the hips and thighs. It greatly increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, and arthritis.
Alcohol and Weight
Ethanol is toxic and has no means of storage in the body, so it cannot be turned into fat. However, beer and other alcoholic beverages do have a direct effect on belly bulge. The body converts alcohol to acetate, which is burned for energy at the expense of carbohydrates, protein, and fats (alcohol provides 7 calories per gram; protein and carbs 4 calories, and fats 9 calories).
Dietary fat or body fat stores are barely used if acetate is available. As long as you’re drinking, you’ll store fat from the foods you eat, and you won’t burn the fat you already wear.
And we all know alcohol stimulates appetites and lessens inhibitions concerning food choices and portion sizes. A diet with regular alcohol consumption and around 30 percent of calories from fat will retain belly fat indefinitely.
An Ideal Diet
Calories matter! Eat too much of anything, and your extra pounds are going nowhere. But no matter what you’ve been told, humans hardly ever turn carbohydrates into fat. We don’t need to—our efficient bodies store 98 percent of excess dietary fat. Basing your diet on lean protein and fruits and vegetables and cutting out fried and “junk” foods is the only swift dietary cure for central obesity.
Maintain a moderate fat intake, though, with high-quality omega-3 fats topping your list. Eat fish and seafood, take fish oil, and switch to oils rich in alpha-linoleic acid (flax, hemp, walnut) for salad dressings.