Why Do Beer Bellies Happen, and How Do I Get Rid of Mine?


We all know how you got here -- just hanging out for the better part of your teens and 20s, sipping on shandies without a care in the world for what kind of havoc you're wreaking on that little tummy of yours. But then you turned 30, and now your paunch is uncomfortably hanging over your belt buckle, and despite the questionable reassurance of Dad Bod, you've decided that the beer belly’s gotta go. What’s a dude to do?

We asked personal trainer Nathan Pontious, who is trained in mixed martial arts, gymnastics, and hand-to-hand combat from two deployments to Afghanistan in the Marine Corps, to give us the skinny on how to battle the belly.


What’s going on here? How does a beer belly happen? 

Each beer contains, on average, 150 calories, so those calories really rack up. Drinking beer makes your liver work overtime, and then you cannot burn off the calories from the foods you eat. Also, overconsumption of beer normally goes hand-in-hand with a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits. All of those combined are a recipe for a big ol' fat beer belly.

Why does it only happen to my stomach? Why doesn't it affect other body parts?

Belly fat is visceral fat, and it is heavily influenced by the hormone estrogen. Yeah, guys, that's right: estrogen. Drinking a lot of beer will jack up your estrogen levels giving you "bitch tits" and a fat beer gut. As for the females, you have enough estrogen in your body, no need to give it any more.

How can I prevent it?

The obvious way would be to cut back on your crazy drinking. But, if you’re going out for a round of beers with friends, have a healthy meal beforehand. The toxic impact of alcohol is increased if there's no food in your belly. Plus, it will fight off the late-night temptations for junk food. If you are a legit boozehound, and there’s no stopping you, then switch to vodka or tequila.

How can I get rid of it once it’s happened?

Getting rid of a beer belly is as simple as changing up your diet to meat and vegetables, cutting all preservatives, and incorporating high-intensity exercise to your life.

flickr/Christopher Brown

How fast can I develop a beer belly, and how fast can I get rid of it?

It seems as though once men and women reach their mid-30s, a beer gut will just pop up out of nowhere. It develops slowly over time, and then just sort of snowballs out of control. And getting rid of it is no easy task.

A beer belly makes mobility difficult. Going for walks, hikes, or runs with one can lead to insane psoas/back pumps that make you not want to move anymore. Then, any sort of physical therapy is impossible because your massive stomach is now in the way. It takes an immense amount of determination and discipline to get rid of a beer belly, which is difficult, particularly for the lazy people this usually affects.

What's the best way to get rid of a beer belly, but still enjoy a drink once in awhile?

Introduce some high-intensity interval training into your life and eat like a caveman. That beer belly won't survive. Healthy eating habits will also help suppress the late-night drunchies, which, alone is a huge factor to the beer belly. Next, drink vodka or tequila, or a lower-calorie beer. Just be mindful -- if you overindulge in some Red Dogs, just know that you're going to have to hit a workout really hard to burn that off.

What if I have one beer a day? Is that going to cause a beer belly?

One beer a day will NOT give you a beer belly, but that does not mean that you can save up and cash them all in on the weekends.

Let's say I start out skinny, and drink one beer a day, how long will it take?

Starting out skinny and consuming a beer a day is not going to give you any sort of significant weight gain.


Do different types of beers make a difference? IPAs, lagers, shandies, etc.

They most certainly do make a difference -- each one has different contents. Shandies are fruitier and sugary. Sugar is what is making Americans sick and fat. IPAs, on the other hand, can have upwards of 500 whopping cals. Toss back a few of those and you’ll be rocking quite the beer gut in no time. Lagers are equally heavy in calories and sugar, but also trigger a certain chemical that makes midnight cravings for Chips Ahoy! and Big Macs irresistible.

So, like I said before, the best bang for your buck is to drink vodkas and tequilas.

Is there such a thing as a wine belly?

I don't believe that wine will give you a belly. In fact, wine contains resveratrol, which is a chemical that may help burn belly fat and decrease inflammation. Wine also contains antioxidants that promote high levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and prevents heart disease. So, unless you are drinking gallon jugs of Carlo Rossi in one sitting, I think it’s safe to say we’re in the clear.

Can I do crunches every day to work off six beers a night?

Crunches every day certainly aren't going to hurt, so why not just do it? The worst that will happen is you get some nice little muscles on your belly.

What's the difference between a beer belly and a Dad Bod?

Editor's Note: It has come to our attention that Nate's answer comes from this video. We were unaware at publish time.

I’m going to go ahead and dive into the Pits of Hell and try to explain this. Dad Bod is NOT about physical appearance at all. Most girls are not going to say that the guy with the mashed potato body is hotter than the guy who looks like a Greek god. What they are saying is that they are attracted to this fart-sniffing, trust-fund baby for the same reason a lot of people take advice from Elite Daily articles: they’re easy, and they tell you exactly what you want to hear.

Dad Bod is trending because he’s not "obsessed with himself" and he’s not "obsessed with going to the gym." This guy isn’t obsessed with anything! He’s good at nothing, just mediocre at everything, and he doesn’t care enough to do anything with passion.