The Truth about alcohol and Beer Bellies

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So in my line of consultancy, I have come across various people asking me what about beer? what about a little wine? and what if I am just the occasional drinker.
I will first clarify that morally, I do not advocate for any amount of ingestion of alcohol. But then again choices in life are sometimes self made and thus I speak for all when I stipulate the nutritional truth about alcohol.

In the first Place,
Alcohol, also known as ethanol, is made through a process called fermentation. During fermentation, yeast breaks sugar down into ethanol and carbon dioxide. This process is done without any air present, and once complete, the carbon dioxide gas bubbles out into the air, leaving ethanol and water behind. Distilled spirits, such as vodka, rum, gin, and whiskey, are fermented and then distilled to separate the ethanol from the water.
Various sources of sugar are used in these processes, resulting in different forms of alcohol. The sugar from crushed grapes is used to make wine; malted barley is used to make beer; sugar cane or molasses makes rum; grain, potatoes, beets, molasses, and a variety of other plants are used to make vodka.
The technique used to make the beverage will determine the alcohol content. You will see the percentage of alcohol per volume listed on the bottle, as well as the proof of the drink. The proof of a beverage is twice the alcohol content, so a drink with 12% alcohol per volume is 24 proof. Generally, a 12-ounce glass of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, and a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor all contain a ½ ounce of pure alcohol and are considered one drink.

Yes, as a nutritionist I am aware of the various types of alcohol in the market, as it is the truth about all of them is that they improve metabollic/digestion rate but provide empty calories to your body!!

There is a popular belief that pot bellies in men are caused by drinking beer. This is why pot belly is referred to as ‘beer belly’. However, lets evaluate the facts, there are people who do not drink but develop pot belly. At the same time, there are people who are daily drinkers yet are extremely skinny. Therefore we should not generalise beer as a bad evil that impregnates men.

Today I will tackle the beer belly in men:

There are several reasons why beer is blamed for pot bellies in men.
1. The first reason is that beer is high in calories. 1 gram of alcohol contains approximately 7 Calories. This is the second highest number of calories compared to other macronutrients in food. 1 gram of fat contains 9 Calories, 1 gram of carbohydrates contains 4 Calories and 1 gram of protein contains 4 Calories. Calories in beer are referred to as empty calories. This implies that most of these calories end up converted into fat.
A 500 ml beer (approximately 1 pint) which is 5 % v/v alcohol contains approximately 170 Calories. This means that consuming 5 beer bottles of 500 ml gives a total of 850 Calories. These are only derived from beer. When you add the calories from the other foods then you exceed the daily recommended calorie intake.
2. Beer consumption leads to hunger, this can cause a person to eat additional unhealthy foods which are also high in calories such as barbecue meat (commonly referred to as choma), sausages and other fatty foods. Actually, many beer drinkers say that fatty foods reduces the level of drunkenness.
3. Beer also leads to dropping of blood sugars level. This leads to lethargy. Lethargy leads to reduced activity which implies that less calories are burned. The burning of less  calories increases the likely hood of accumulation of fat and hence pot belly.

Men with ‘beer belly’ are at high risk of many healthy problems. These include:

  • Stroke
  • Some types of cancer
  • Abnormal lipids
  • Insulin resistance
  • High triglycerides
  • Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Heart disease
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