Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website www.lenoreskomal.net.   Read more about this blog.
Posted: June 14th, 2013
Are beer bellies a myth?

We’ve all seen them. Some of us even have one. Protuberances from our midsections that we affectionately pat and call our “beer belly.” But is it true?

No, says recent research from University of California Davis, which throws the theory that beer somehow uniquely targets the gut into question.

First of all, it doesn’t make medical sense, claim researchers. Food and drink don’t automatically distribute their calories in the form of fat to certain areas of the body.

Second of all, people with beer bellies often tend to overeat, too, thus consuming more calories than they burn off.

Thirdly, not all beer drinkers have them. Plenty of non-beer drinking folks sport pot bellies.

Why does beer get the bad rap? Well, some think it’s because beer is so high caloric and so easy to drink, that most people overdo it, thus causing a spike in their caloric intake. It also tends to increase your appetite, which means eating more food and then washing it down with beer. And that’s not even talking about the high caloric bar food that often accompanies it.

Alcohol intake is also associated with bigger waists because when you drink alcohol, the liver burns alcohol instead of fat.

According to WebMD, you see beer bellies most in older people because calorie needs go down as you age and most people become less active. Hormone levels also decline in both men and women as they age, which means more fat is stored around the middle. And for some reason, smokers also deposit more fat in their bellies.

The problem with beer bellies is that the fat is within the abdominal walls, meaning it’s  somewhat hidden and surrounding your organs, which is a bad thing. And the only way to lose it isn’t by doing exercises, because that only tightens the muscles covering your fat. You have to lose weight.

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