How to turn that beer belly into a six pack

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Mareike Bout, the 2008 SA Personal Trainer of the Year and our resident health guru at Mining Family Matters, reckons guys who follow her weight-loss tips will be swapping a beer belly for a six-pack in no time.

1. Aim for a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9

To calculate your BMI, divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in metres) squared. If you have a high percentage of muscle, your BMI might be higher than this without you actually being too fat, so measure your waist circumference to see if you need to lose weight. A waist measurement of 94cm means you are at increased risk of health problems; a measurement of 102cm means you are at a high risk.

2. Listen to your mates

Most blokes don't hold back telling each other that they’ve 'got fat' or developed a beer belly. If your mates start to pay you out, don't take it as a compliment. Instead, take it as an indicator that you need to shift some weight.

3. If you don't like 'diets', don’t go on one

Instead, focus on ways in which you can improve your eating habits – for weight loss that will last. There's less stigma attached to healthy eating and you won't feel as deprived.

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4. If you have a partner, ask for help

Most women will be delighted and only too happy to serve up healthier meals and smaller portions.

5. Get to grips with the basics of healthy eating

Here are a few simple rules:

  • eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains
  • have fish twice a week (including one serve of oily fish like salmon, mackerel or fresh tuna)
  • opt for low-fat dairy products
  • choose lean sources of protein like lean red meat and chicken
  • go for fresh, natural, unprocessed foods
  • eat fewer fried and fatty foods
  • cut back on salt and sugar
  • watch portion sizes
  • don't drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol in a day

6. Don't be fooled by low-carb diets

Large amounts of red meat, eggs, cream, cheese, butter and fried food might seem appealing but diets based on these foods are usually loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat – and men are already at an increased risk of heart disease than women.

Carbs are actually friends to weight loss rather than foes, especially if you opt for whole grains such as brown rice, wholemeal breads and porridge, which will all help to fill you up – and keep you fuller for longer.

7. Eat five portions of fruit & veg each day

Fruit and vegetables in dishes all count towards this target. It's as easy as having a fresh fruit smoothie at breakfast, an apple mid morning, adding a tomato to your sandwich at lunchtime and having lots of onions and mushrooms in a spaghetti bolognese for dinner.

8. Eat fewer takeaways and choose healthily                                                                

For example, if you love burgers, go for a chicken or small burger rather than a double cheeseburger; choose a thin crust Hawaiian pizza rather than stuffed-crust pepperoni; and have steamed rice rather than fried rice.

Eat a healthy, balanced meal before going to the pub so you’ll be less likely to grab a takeaway on the way home. If you don’t have time for a proper meal, opt for a wholemeal sandwich or soup and a roll.

9. Drive to the pub... your mates won’t keep encouraging or forcing you to have beer after beer. All alcohol is packed with calories, but men tend to drink beer and beer tends to be the worst option – and the stronger it is, the more calories it will contain.

Single measures of spirits with low-cal mixers like diet coke or tonic are the best choice with just 50 calories each. And remember, if you’re not drinking, you still need to stick to low-calorie drinks to gain the benefits. A pint of orange juice and lemonade contains around 160 calories while a pint of regular coke contains as many calories as a pint of full-strength beer – around 240!

10. Don’t be afraid to tell a white lie...

...if any of your mates start questioning you about what you’re eating and drinking. If you’re off the booze tell them you’re on antibiotics; if you’re skipping the burger and fries tell them you have high cholesterol and the doctor has told you to cut down on fat; or if you’re eating more wholegrain carbs, fruit or veg tell them you’re in training for a sporting event such as a half marathon or triathlon.

11. Don’t just watch sport...

... from the comfort of your armchair or local pub. Instead, get off your butt and start playing it. Think back to what you loved at school – football, cricket or running, for example – and consider joining a local club. Or have a go at learning a new sport, such as golf – an hour at the driving range might not give you a great cardiovascular workout, but it’ll certainly burn more calories than sitting in front of the TV.

Arrange social events around playing sport, too – for example, get a group of mates together and go for a kick around in the park at the weekend. And if you have a gym membership, make sure you’re using it.

Whatever you do, don’t wait until you’ve been diagnosed with a health problem before you take action! Weight loss will give you more energy and help to improve everything from your health and looks to your confidence and love of life!

Mareike Bout is a qualified and registered personal trainer who specialises in holistic fitness and lifestyle coaching. She is a recognised leader in the industry, receiving the peer-voted South Australia Personal Trainer of the Year award in 2008. She is also a regular guest on Adelaide’s top-rating radio station FIVEaa. Mareike runs her personal training business, One Life Live Well, both online and from a private studio in Adelaide. Services include one-on-one training, outdoor group fitness, lifestyle coaching and weight-loss programs. Individually tailored programs encompass aspects of exercise, nutrition, relaxation, positive thinking, life balance, and goal setting. Her approach is to guide, support and educate her clients so that they posses the tools required to live a life of health, strength and vitality!

Got a question for Mareike? Click here!