Alcohol and your waist circumference

There’s a reason why we use the term “beer belly” to describe the protruding abdomen of an avid drinker!

There’s a reason why we use the term “beer belly” to describe the protruding abdomen of an avid drinker!

Studies suggest that alcohol accounts for 4 to 6 percent of all calories consumed in Western countries. And yet, according to a survey conducted in Great Britain, many people are not aware of the relationship between alcohol consumption and putting on the pounds: 40 percent of respondents did not know that alcohol can contribute to weight gain.

While weight gain is a minor risk compared to alcohol-related driving accidents, cancers and cirrhoses, the calorie intake from alcohol consumption takes on greater meaning to individuals who are trying to maintain or reach a healthy body weight.

In Germany, people joke that beer is like liquid bread. The statement is a bit of an exaggeration, but it does hold some truth, since beer is quite high in calories. For example, a regular-size bottle of pale ale (330 ml) contains about 180 calories (a quarter-litre of wine has about 140). If we take into account that adults require approximately 2,000 calories per day on average, we begin to see that having “festive” evenings on a regular basis can soon lead to excess weight.

Other than weight gain, regularly consuming generous amounts of alcohol can also bring about detrimental changes to the metabolism, including an increase in triglycerides and a decrease in insulin sensitivity (which contributes to the onset of diabetes), as well as an increased risk of hypertension. The maximum recommended intake of alcohol is 14 drinks per week for men and 9 per week for women.

If you are trying to lose weight, don’t forget to take your alcohol consumption into account. Why not simply opt for a glass of water? You could add a few slices of lemon to it and voilà – a refreshing beverage for those warm summer nights!

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