Related stories Related stories

home Home > Subscribe to Ratebeer.com Weekly RateBeer Archives > Features

Fitness for Beer Lovers

Tips on how to re-gain (or maintain) your pre-Ratebeer weight
Features June 24, 2002      
Written by AceOfHearts

Mountain View, CALIFORNIA -

<P>As beer lovers, we all have to deal with the increased calories, slower metabolism, and munchies associated with the disregard for what we eat we all suffer from once in a while (I’m not exactly counting calories after drinking a 750 ml of Chimay Blue and a Sam Smith Oatmeal…). But in addition to being a beer geek, I also have the contradictory hobbies of weightlifting and running. Here are a few tips on how to minimize beer-gut. I’m not a doctor or medical student, just a beer and fitness lover reporting on what’s worked for him. A lot of this is just general fitness advice that you could find anywhere, but I’ve made some alcohol-related observations that you probably won’t see elsewhere because most fitness freaks would just tell you to stop drinking.</P>

<P>My promise to you: I will at no point in this document suggest that you drink light beer and I will make no stupid "12 oz hammercurl" jokes.</P>

<P>Section I – Absolute truths</P><DIR>

<P>These are things that you must learn and respect before you can trim back down to pre-Ratebeer levels. You probably don’t want to hear most of them.</P>


<LI>If you’re drinking a six every day, there is really nothing you can do to prevent gaining weight. If you do this and are trim, you’re probably either young and it hasn’t caught up to you yet, or you’re quite genetically blessed (and we all hate you). For the rest of us, these extreme drinking habits might result in less weight gain by following the advice below, but an increase in fat will be inevitable.</LI>

<LI>There’s no easy way out. Don’t waste money on 48-hour miracle diets, electric ab belts, or pills that guarantee results in a week. Use common sense – if there was a magic bullet, everyone would be using it. Nothing biologically prevents there from being one, but it just doesn’t exist right now. Your four easy installments of $29.95 would be far better spent on sixes of Westy-12 and Rochefort-10.</LI>

<LI>You have to get some physical activity to lose the beer-gut. Changing your diet will help to some extent, but exercise is a must. Even if it’s just a one-mile walk for 20 minutes a night after having a Sam Adams seasonal, that’s far better than nothing.</LI>

<LI>You’re getting older. If you’re in your 20’s or 30’s, it won’t be too hard to shed some weight, but if you’re in your 40’s or beyond it will take some considerable effort that should include exercising and cutting back on junk food.</LI>

<LI>It takes commitment to get fit, and it is important to commit to a reasonable program, regardless of the results that you will see. It can be very frustrating to diet and jog for a month and somehow gain 3 pounds, which happens to some people. But keep in mind that working hard will pay off in the long run.</LI></OL>


<P>Section II – Nutritional tips</P>


<LI>Diets are stupid. This is easy to accept. If you cut down on fatty foods and beer for a month and lose 10 pounds, and then you go back to your previous habits, the weight is going to come right back. Doing this repeatedly throughout life puts stress on your heart. The word "diet" implies something that is only followed for a short time, when losing weight requires real commitment.</LI>

<LI>Drink lots of water, because being sufficiently hydrated is conducive to losing fat. I almost always carry around a water bottle. And after a night of drinking, FORCE YOURSELF to down a big glass of water or two before going to bed. As we all know, beer has a dehydrating effect. The rule of thumb is that if your pee is yellow, you should be drinking more. (Water).</LI>

<LI>Hard numbers on the calories in beer are difficult to come by. Some nutritional guides will list "beer" and give a caloric content. This is ridiculous; it’s like saying that "a piece of fruit" had 120 calories or "meat" has 400 calories per pound. The caloric content of beer is largely a function of the alcohol content. A pint of a beer that has 5-6% alcohol will typically have between 175-250 calories, but stouts, Belgians, and barleywines may exceed this. A list of 200 brands and caloric content is at <A HREF="http://www.theraven.com/beer.html">http://www.theraven.com/beer.html</A></LI>

<LI>Meals: NEVER skip breakfast, eating in the morning is like lighting your metabolic fire for the day. Preferably eat breakfast as soon as possible after waking up. In general try to eat 5-6 small meals per day instead of three large ones – evolution didn’t design our metabolism to handle all-you-can-eat buffets. Finally, try not to go to sleep on a full stomach. Related to all this is the fact that binge drinking is worse than a little at a time. Over time I typically average a beer a day, but it’s usually no more than 1-2 pints per night – I don’t often drink 5-6 or more at a time.</LI>

<LI>Beer tends to give you the munchies over time; I know that after a night out I’m a sucker for junk food. French fries, fast food burgers, Velveeta mac-and-cheese -- bring it on. I’ve found that a good way to resist this is to eat something reasonable while you’re drinking. My favorite pub sells a "beer companion", which is a plate of grapes, crackers, meats, and cheeses. This represents some reasonable food to eat, and for me it cuts down on post-drinking hunger. Plus, neutral foods will help cleanse your palate for tasting!</LI>

<LI>Here’s an easy one: don’t skip meals. Starving yourself outright will result in losing more muscle than fat. Consistent small meals are the way to go.</LI>

<LI>Supplements: This could be an entire other document, but most fat-loss pills are crap. One that does seem to be effective is caffeine/ephedrine, which is sold under various names (Ripped Fuel, Xenadrine, Diet Fuel, to name a few). I managed to take my body fat down to 6.5% while using this stuff and I was still drinking on a regular basis! However, these are powerful stimulants, so consult with a doctor first, especially if you have a medical condition that stimulants might agitate (heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.) I’ve noticed that if I take caffeine for workout energy on the day after I stay out drinking, it has no effect except raising my body temperature, even if I’m not hung over. Strange.</LI></OL>

<P>Section III – Exercise tips</P>


<LI>If nothing else, Do SOMETHING. ANYTHING. Getting no physical activity will destroy your metabolism. If your activity is limited to a walk around the neighborhood in the evening, that’s far better than absolutely nothing.</LI>

<LI>Beer is a depressant and it will slow your metabolism. Double whammy, since beer has a lot of mostly non-nutritional calories anyway. To combat this, get some reasonable exercise in the afternoon before a night out drinking. Exercising will raise your metabolism for about 12 hours, in addition to the calories that you burn while working out. Remember to keep your water intake high if you do this!</LI>

<LI>"Spot-reduction" of fat is a myth. In other words, you can do crunches and sit-ups all day and it won’t make your beer gut depart. If anything, it will make it look worse because the abs that you build will just push the layer of fat out more. The way to lose fat is through cardiovascular exercise and overall muscle toning; having more muscle on your body also increases metabolism.</LI>

<LI>Ideal exercise session: Start with eating some carbs. Bread, fruit, or sports drinks are all golden. It should be just enough to get you through a workout, not enough to make you full. Exercise by warming up and stretching, then lifting weights according to a program (this is outside the scope of this document and there are plenty of resources on the web). Follow weightlifting with 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular activity (jogging, biking, etc). End with a high-protein meal.</LI></OL>

<P>This was all some common sense advice regarding exercise, diet, and how it can work with beer drinking. The web is full of fitness resources and there are countless books and publications on the subject, so general information is not hard to find. Good luck and cheers!</P>

<P>Chad (aceofhearts)</P>



No comments added yet

You must be logged in to post comments


Anyone can submit an article to RateBeer. Send your edited, HTML formatted article to our Editor-In-Chief.