Preventing a beer belly in old age: an expert explains how it works

Preventing a beer belly in old age: an expert explains how it works
Preventing a beer belly in old age: an expert explains how it works

By Isabel Kilian | Sep 23, 2022 at 4:11 am

It is stubborn and many men’s curse: a beer belly. Women can get it too, and even people who don’t drink beer at all. Once there, it is difficult to get rid of it – especially in old age. But what is the best way to avoid it?

The older you get, the harder it is to get rid of: the beer belly. It is therefore best not to let the unhealthy belly fat develop at all. But what is the best way to prevent a beer belly in old age? What makes it so dangerous for your health and why is it so difficult to get rid of? FITBOOK has worked with specialist for internal medicine, cardiology and sports medicine Prof. Dr. medical Herbert Löllgen asked and received exciting answers. For example, anyone who eats the wrong food can get a beer belly. Excessive beer consumption is therefore not absolutely necessary, despite the common name.

What is a beer belly?

A beer belly is not just a buildup of fat on the abdomen, but also internal abdominal fat — known as visceral fat — that spreads throughout the abdominal cavity and surrounds internal organs such as the liver, intestines, and even the heart. A beer belly can therefore be seriously dangerous for your health, explains Prof. Löllgen FITBOOK. A typical constellation is the apple shape of the body.

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Causes of a beer belly

Beer or alcohol is not the primary cause of a beer belly, it is much more the typical finding of overweight due to excessive food intake, according to Prof. Dr. medical Loellgen. “It is caused by the wrong diet, eating too much throughout the day and sometimes also by drinking (alcoholic) beer. But beer alone does not lead to a beer belly. However, it contains a lot of calories and thus increases weight gain, ”explains the expert.

Also interesting: 14 healthy foods under 25 kilocalories

Wrong diet favors beer belly in old age

However, a beer belly does not develop overnight, but is the result of an unhealthy diet and an unhealthy lifestyle over a longer period of time. It comes insidiously and mainly affects older people because of later metabolic changes.

On the one hand, “beer bellies” consume too little fiber and, on the other hand, too much saturated fat and simple sugars. In addition, sufferers not only eat too much, but also too quickly and at the wrong time, such as late in the evening. Alcohol consumption also favors the development of visceral fat. Not only because of its calories, but also because it stops the fat metabolism and the body is initially busy breaking down the alcohol again. If you keep drinking beer, wine and the like, your body will break down fat less often and store it.

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Belly fat is hormonally active

However, this stored, visceral fat can be extremely damaging to health in the long term. “The tissues in the abdominal fat, which also form in the rest of the abdomen, contain fat cells, as well as various hormones and hormone-like substances that promote both inflammatory processes and the development of diabetes, strokes or heart disease.”

Hormones play a crucial role in this. Because unlike fat on legs or arms, belly fat produces hormones such as estrogen or leptin. The latter actually has the function of curbing the appetite – people with a beer belly, however, have permanently high levels of leptin and are therefore, to a certain extent, resistant to the signals. The result is a constant feeling of hunger.

In addition, the visceral fat initially goes unnoticed and only becomes visible with increasing fat storage or with a beer belly – but then the unhealthy fat has already accumulated in the stomach and wrapped around the organs.

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Difficult to get rid of a beer belly as you get older

This also explains why belly fat is so stubborn. “The only way to get rid of it is by fasting, eating less (considerably) fewer calories a day or a healthy Mediterranean diet and regular physical activity up to and including sport, especially endurance sports,” says the doctor. For those affected, 16:8 intermittent fasting is particularly suitable, in which you only eat within a time window of eight hours, as this is an excellent way to boost your metabolism.

The metabolism is also the culprit, which makes it very difficult to get rid of the beer belly, especially in old age. Both the metabolism and the hormones change and ensure that the basal metabolic rate decreases more and more. It is therefore better if beer drinkers, fast-food lovers & Co. do not allow internal belly fat to develop in the first place and accordingly prevent beer belly in old age.

Also interesting: The ideal mealtime window to lose weight with intermittent fasting

Prevent belly fat in old age

Anyone who is already struggling with a small tummy should pull the ripcord quickly. The following measures can be used to fight belly fat and prevent beer belly in old age:

  • Avoid alcohol at best
  • Change your diet (whole grain products, bulky foods, little sugar, lots of unsaturated fatty acids, lots of fiber)
  • Regular exercise (walking for 150 minutes a week can make a difference)
  • at least seven hours of sleep
  • eat slower
  • Avoid eating late at night

Do you have a fitness or nutrition question? Feel free to send them to us – by email to [email protected] We select the most interesting questions and answer them with the support of our team of experts and the current study situation. We are excited!

The article is in German

Tags: Preventing beer belly age expert explains works

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