Does Drinking Beer Really Make You Gain Weight?
Obesity and alcohol abuse are prevalent public health issues in the United States. Excessive alcohol intake can accumulate calories and may lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Beer, in particular, is heavily associated with weight gain.
While beer may not be the sole contributor to a “beer belly”, beer is associated with a high accumulation of abdominal fat. Weight gain from being a beer drinker poses a risk for several health issues, including metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
How Can Drinking Beer Lead To Weight Gain?
Several factors can impact someone’s daily calorie needs but the average person needs between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day. Weight gain occurs when someone consumes more calories than they burn.
The amount of calories in the average beer is about 150 (while light beer has about 110 calories).
Moderate alcohol consumption is less likely to increase body fat than someone who is drinking excessively. Having multiple beers several times a week can increase calorie intake and may interfere with a healthy diet and exercise.
In addition to high-calorie intake, several other factors may play a role in weight gain.
Metabolism Of Alcohol
Your liver prioritizes the metabolism of alcohol because it views it as a toxic substance. This means other functions of the liver, including metabolizing fat, are delayed until the alcohol is out of your system.
By interfering with fat metabolism, excessive alcohol use can lead to increased fat storage. Increased body fat and excessive alcohol use also increase the risk of dangerous health effects, like fatty liver disease and heart disease.
A healthy diet consists of plenty of nutrients that keep you healthy and give your body energy. A typical healthy diet consists of a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Although beer does contain carbs, it contains almost no nutritional value. You are not likely to feel as satiated as if you were to eat a snack or meal. Alcohol abuse can also lead to low blood sugar, which can increase hunger.
In addition, one of the side-effects of alcohol use is lowered inhibitions. This makes you more likely to overeat, make unhealthy food choices, and take on excess calories.
A healthy diet and exercise play a major role in weight management, weight loss, and overall health. However, people who drink beer excessively are less likely to make healthy food choices and exercise.
According to the National Institutes of Health, heavy drinkers are more likely to consume foods high in unhealthy fats and added sugars. A combination of alcoholic beverages like beer and an unhealthy diet with extra calories may increase the risk of health problems.
Is Beer Belly A Myth Or Reality?
Alcohol affects everyone differently and several factors, including your metabolism, can impact where you gain weight. An excess of calories can lead to abdominal obesity but this is seen more often in men than women.
One serving of beer is about 12 ounces, red wine is about 5 ounces, and hard liquor is just one ounce.
Beer also contains less alcohol per serving than an ounce of hard liquor or wine. Someone who is drinking alcohol excessively is more likely to accumulate calories with beer than with liquor.
Dangers Of Beer Belly
Although a beer belly may not seem like a severe consequence of drinking, belly fat is associated with serious health conditions. Generally, a waistline above 37 inches for men and 31 inches for women pose an increased risk of health problems.
Both alcohol use and obesity are risk factors for serious health problems, including cancer and several diseases.
Heavy drinking and obesity can increase the risk of the following health conditions:
- fatty liver disease
- high blood pressure
- liver cancer
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- high cholesterol
Weight Gain Factors
Alcohol-related weight gain is dependent on several factors, including genetics, metabolism, and gender. Even if someone drinks beer heavily and doesn’t get a beer belly, it doesn’t mean alcohol isn’t negatively impacting their health.
Factors that can affect body weight may include:
- frequency of alcohol use
- how much alcohol consumed
- overall health
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, Ark Behavioral Health can help. Contact us today to speak with a specialist about treatment options.
Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
This page does not provide medical advice.
Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) - Adult Obesity Causes And Consequences
Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) - Alcohol Use And Your Health
Beer And Health - Moderate Consumption As Part Of A Healthy Lifestyle
Harvard Health Publishing - Beer Belly
National Institutes Of Health - Diet Quality Worsens As Alcohol Intake Increases
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