How to Avoid Getting a Beer Gut

One of the best ways to maintain a flat tummy is to take steps toward avoiding the dreaded beer gut in the first place. Applying basic common sense should keep you in the slim but so can extra physical activity and mixing up your routine. Whether you're going for six-pack abs or you simply want a flat, lean stomach, stick to these rules and avoid the beer-inspired pouch.


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    Assess your current physical appearance. Are you currently happy with your current physical state or do you need to lose a few (or many) pounds in order to have a beer-gut free body?
    • Determine if you're within normal weight ranges. While the body mass index (BMI) calculator should not be the “end-all, be-all” way to determine if you're fit (because it doesn’t take cardiovascular health or muscle mass into account), it may provide you with a jumping-off point to determine if you need to lose weight. Determining your BMI is done with a mathematical calculation that compares your height to your weight to determine if you are within what is considered to be a healthy weight. Numerous online BMI calculators are available for quick calculation or you can run the numbers yourself (weight in pounds times 703 divided by the square of your height in inches). A BMI reading of 18.6 to 24.9 is considered to be within normal range. See How to calculate your BMI for more details.
    • Clothing fit. Have you had to go up a size or two in pants over the past few years? Does your stomach “muffin-top” over your pants––meaning does it spill over the top of your pants, resembling the top of a muffin? If your stomach seems to be expanding, it may be time to change your diet and exercise routine.
    • Are you comfortable wearing a swimsuit? Do you feel as if your midsection isn’t overly tight or that you're carrying flab in the stomach area? You want to feel confident and good at the beach and a flabby tummy may discourage you from even going.
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    Adhere to a clean diet. One of the best ways to avoid getting a beer gut is to stick to a clean diet. A “clean diet” is one that consists of natural, whole foods that haven’t been overly processed. An example of a clean diet might consist of one serving of steel cut oatmeal for breakfast, baby carrots for a snack, a spinach salad with vinegar and oil dressing for lunch and a piece of grilled fish with steamed vegetables for dinner.
    • Watch portion sizes. Ditch your regular dinner plates and instead use salad plates for your main course. Read labels carefully so you eat exactly one serving.
    • Eat a clean breakfast. Go and read the label of your favorite cereal now. If you see sugar and vegetable oil in the ingredients, start searching for something healthier. Try an egg each morning (Tim Ferris' suggestion), or have oatmeal with slices of fresh fruit. Healthy cereals should be free of sugar and vegetable oils, such as wheat flakes, wheat bran, sugar-free natural granola, amaranth cereals, etc. If your supermarket aisle is lacking, check the health food store. Just remember to read your labels! Cereals can look healthy on the box but still contain sugars, salts and fats.
    • Eat clean fats that don't lay themselves down around your gut. Fats less likely to be stored as body fat include the fats in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), lean meats, seafood, nuts, seeds and avocados. Fats likely to help build a beer gut include deep fried foods, margarine, trans-fats processed products, pastries, doughnuts (sorry!) and many baked goods.
    • Cut down on white carbs (processed carbohydrates). Take the white bread, white pasta, white rice and white flour baked products out of your life. Their refinement and smooth taste is growing your beer gut. Switch to wholegrain bread, brown rice and wholegrain/unrefined flour types. Be aware that your body will burn off stored carbs before stored fat, which can make losing weight harder for you.
    • Include more protein in your diet without making it all you eat. Some people seem to be obsessed with protein-heavy diets at the expense of healthy carbs and fats. It is far better to eat quality protein in small amounts to keep you satiated than to deny yourself the full range of nutrients from all healthy food types. Choose protein from such sources as lean meats, seafood, pulses, unflavored and unsalted dairy products, eggs and moderate amounts of nuts.
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    Consider eating your food “naked.” Sauces often contain a lot of sugar, sodium and additives your body does not need and yet they're a sneaky way to get more calories in unnoticed. If you purchase high quality (and even organic) produce and meats, you may find that the food has great flavor by using only a few spices instead of drowning your food in sauce. Good cooking methods such as broiling, steaming and light sautéing, as well as allowing yourself time to get used to the taste of food without added condiments can help you to wean yourself off such extras.
    • Get used to reading the ingredients. Be savvy about just what those names on the label mean for your stomach. Remember that names can be disguised with all sorts of marketing fluff, so check online if you're not sure what the names for the ingredients mean. For example, if you see a label that includes sucrose, glucose and invert sugar on it, it's just told you that the processor has added sugar (in different forms, but still all sugars) three times to the product during it's manufacturing!
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    Eliminate sugar from your diet. Sugar is one of the biggest culprits to building a gut and it's hidden in almost all of the processed foods and drinks consumed. While kicking the sugar addiction may be difficult, you will eventually find that even fresh fruit tastes sweeter after you’ve eliminated refined white sugar. And as for the beer of the beer gut, it's full of sugar unless you choose a sugar-reduced version. It's liquid sugar and it goes straight to your stomach.
    • Be patient with your taste buds. It takes time to train them to less sugary tastes. Taste buds renew themselves every few weeks, so hang in there for about a month of gradual taste changes and the new ones will be happily trained to accept less sugar (and other additions).
    • Use spices to improve the sweetness of foods. (Using Pico De Gallo on oranges, apples, watermelons and other fruits actually enhances their sweetness and delicious flavors!)
    • Have more real fruit instead of juiced fruit, leather fruits or sugary, processed fruit products.
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    Curb the alcohol intake. A beer gut is so-called because it was first noticed (by lay persons, not just the medical fraternity) in association with those who indulged in regular and high-level beer drinking. Most alcohol is high in calories and all alcohol is empty calories and a potential nutritional thief, meaning, that replacing healthy foods with alcohol deprives your body of essential nutrients. If you're actually on a diet, alcohol should be only a minimal part of it. If you're simply trying to maintain your current healthy weight, alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum.
    • With aging comes less ability to work off that alcohol. If you're young and skinny you might be able to soak it up like a sponge right now but you're laying down the foundations for fattening up later and one day, you'll wake up and notice changes that you don't much like and that are much harder to budge because you don't metabolize or move like you did when younger.
    • Cut out one drink a day from your diet. If you're enjoying three glasses of alcohol a day now, whether it is beer, wine or spirits, choose to only have two. Maybe choose to reduce this to one a day a few weeks later, then reduce it to only one or two drinks a week.
    • If a cocktail is more to your liking, choose a low-carb beer or a vodka and club soda drink––both have less than 100 calories per serving.
    • Drink lots of... water! Water prevents hunger, stops you from eating more than you need, improves your metabolism and can stave off food cravings. Plus, it's good for you.
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    Devote at least 30 to 45 minutes to exercise five or six times per week. Exercise can help tone muscles and kick start your metabolism. Find a workout you enjoy so you don’t dread it every day, and if that means that only walking is your thing, then get walking every day for at least 20 minutes (take your best canine friend along if you have one).
    • Cardio is king. Losing your gut basically means that you need to shed fat and kicking up the cardio workout will help you reach your goal faster. Remember, the best way to get the most from your workout is to push yourself as hard as you can in small intervals. You won’t get a great workout by strolling on the treadmill. Instead try to inject small bursts of energy between slow walks and build up to longer energy bursts.
    • Include two to three weightlifting days or combine cardio and weights for a fat-blasting workout. Muscle has been known to boost the metabolism so adding a few weight days in between cardio can help build lean muscle tissue. In addition to building muscle, a weight routine in between cardio days will mix up the monotony of doing the same workout all week long and allow certain parts of your body to rest while working other areas. Many fitness centers offer weight and cardio combined classes––also numerous fitness experts sell workout routines on DVD.
    • Mix up your workout every few weeks to promote muscle confusion. After a month of doing the same workout, your body may plateau. This means you don’t continue to experience the same results as you did during prior weeks. If this happens, put your current workout on the shelf and try something new. For example, if you’ve been running, try a spin class or the elliptical trainer for a month. Then go back to running again.
    • If you're a walker, try to walk 10,000 steps a day. To know that you're achieving this, get a pedometer or make use of the pedometer tucked into some MP3 players, iPods and similar digital devices. The motivation of the pedometer is an excellent tool of self-discipline and makes walking as personally competitive and fun as any other sort of sporting activity. Try for at least 4,000-6,000 steps uninterrupted, with the rest made up through the day.
    • Don't be a couch slouch. Couch potatoes are infamous for their beer guts precisely because they don't exercise and they eat while watching TV. Inactivity + food = weight gain (aka beer gut). A little slouching now and then is fine; a daily activity it is not.
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    Allow yourself a cheat day or meal once a week. Even the most disciplined person needs a cheat day or meal every once in a while. Allowing yourself to have a cheat meal or day once a week or so, will keep you focused on your diet the rest of the time. It can even show you that you aren’t so keen on sugar or fat anymore if you’ve been sticking to a clean diet because the sudden sweetness will really hit you.
    • Have one cheat meal per week that doesn’t consist of more than 1,000 calories at one sitting. Although a cheat meal or day is fine, don’t go hog wild. Keep an eye on calories, fat and sugar to have some control over your cheat meal.
    • Don’t fall off the wagon completely if you do cheat. For some dieters, if they cheat one time they completely ditch their diet for good. Remember, the idea of the cheat meal or day allows you to leave your regular routine at the door and indulge to break up the monotony of eating clean 24/7. Have your cheat meal, but by all means resume your regular eating patterns the next day.
    • Choose “smart” cheat items. Choose healthy alternatives to “junk” or cheat items. For example, if you crave popcorn, air pop the corn and add non-stick butter spray and light salt instead of going for the movie kind.
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    With a little bit of patience and discipline, your new goal will become your reality!


  • Work a lot of incidental movement into your life, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking instead of driving, cycling instead of catching the bus, etc.
  • Be careful during holiday seasons; these can be times of ballooning weight due to too much food intake.
  • If you're going for ripped abs, avoid spending too much time doing crunches or ab work. If you do push ups and some ab work, it’s more about shedding the fat around the stomach muscles in order to see them pop.


  • Alcohol slows down weight loss. Consume it in moderation.
  • See your doctor before you embark on any new diet and fitness routine.
  • If you have any concerns about your weight or diet, it's important to discuss this with your usual health professional.

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