Beating the Flab, Cutting the Beer

If you are wanting to get in shape, or transform the beer belly into six-pack abs we've got the tips for you.

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* Loosing the podge/beer belly/man boobs: "There's a myth around spot reduction," says sports dietician Rena Fausett, from Dietitians at Anglesea. "Women want to lose it from their hips and men want to lose it from their stomachs, but it doesn't work like that." Her No 1 tip is reducing alcohol consumption. "It provides a lot of calories per gram -- a beer is the energy equivalent of a peanut butter sandwich."

A regular can of beer (153 calories) is about the same as four Chicken McNuggets (169 calories), and three cans is about the same as a Big Mac (492 calories).

If you sit down, watch the game, and consume about 10 cans of beer over an evening (or weekend), you are eating forty chicken McNuggets or more than three Big Macs. That can't be good for the abdominal six-pack.

A light beer (103 calories) is moderately better, but still not calorie-free.

Fausett says drinking alcohol also tends to make you eat more, as you are often in a social situation. "And it's generally not salad and fruit," she laughs. "It's things like nuts, chips, crackers, cheese. It's the combination of fatty food and alcohol that can give them the beer gut and man boobs. Logical thought and the ability to make wise (food) choices goes out the window."

Les Mills head personal trainer John Gillett says if men who have a beer belly or are feeling too flabby, they're not doing the maths. "They are not burning off the calories they are putting in," says Gillett, a personal trainer for 16 years, who worked with the Chiefs. "It'd be due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise."

* What kind of workouts work, to lose weight: A combination of cardiovascular exercise (such as cycling, running, aerobics or swimming) as well as weight training will help with weight loss, says Gillett. "Weight training is important -- as you put muscle on you not only tone and firm, but if you have more muscles your metabolism increases and you burn calories faster."

After 25, many men find if they are not exercising, they will lose muscle mass/size and put on weight in its place, says Gillett.

How do you start to make a real difference? "Do weight training two to three times a week, and do two or three cardio sessions a week," says Gillett.

Get a heart rate monitor to see how hard you are working -- Polar heart rate monitor watches are reasonably priced options.

If you are doing low-intensity cardio (heart rate at 120-140 beats per minute), each session should be 30 minutes or more, but if you are working harder (150-170bpm), perhaps running, 20 minutes is all you need.

"Within two to four weeks you'll probably start to notice, bring the belt buckle in one notch," says Gillett. "If you are doing a lot of cardio, it happens fast. Generally speaking, you start to see really good results within a 12-week period, but others, with good genetics can see body changes quickly, within four weeks."

* One easy tip: Eat breakfast. "A lot of blue collar workers start early, and have no time for breakfast," says Fausett. "Executives want to get to the office early, and say they have no time. If you miss breakfast, you spend the rest of the day trying to catch up, and often end up eating a whole day's worth of food in the second half of the day."

She recommends eating three medium-sized meals throughout the day, with two small snacks, to keep the metabolism trucking along. "The golden rule is to not leave it longer than four hours," says Fausett. "Spread out the food you would normally eat to smaller portions over the day. Try not to make your dinner late or a big meal. If you eat a large meal two hours before bed, your body can't digest it all and it is more likely to be stored as fat."

* What bloke-friendly food is okay? Meat and three vege is a good choice, as long as portions aren't too big and the cooking method not too greasy. "You could argue that KFC is meat and three vege," says Fausett. "You've got chicken, but it's deep fried, chips, but they are deep fried, and coleslaw and mashed potatoes covered in gravy." For lunch, choose a sandwich or roll and fruit, with water, instead of a pie and chips. For dinner, watch cooking method, portion size and try to include lots of colourful vegetables. Baked beans on toast, a traditional single man's staple, gets the thumbs- up.

* Food for energy and fitness: "Regular eating and good meal portions, every four hours, is the secret to keeping energy up," says Fausett. You'll start to reduce muscle size if you don't provide the body with enough energy. She says you don't have to go overboard on protein -- although helps with building muscles, "your body can only use so much, and what it doesn't use, it stores as extra calories or fat, so don't overdo it."

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