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My Dad Has a Beer Belly — Am I Doomed to Get One Too?

If you follow all of your father’s other lifestyle choices, then yes, duh

The beer belly is a dad trope for a reason. But, you know, someday, you might be a beer-drinking dad yourself. And what then? Will you, despite your best efforts, inevitably grow a comically rotund stomach? 

If you copy all of your father’s other lifestyle choices then… yes, you will probably develop similar physical characteristics. My dad is a hardcore vodka-and-beer alcoholic, now sober. His alcoholism was such that he often weighed less than me, his 5-foot-1 daughter of a healthy weight, because he just wouldn’t eat. 

But, for better or worse, fat storage is determined by sex, so I’m not likely to entirely adopt his skinniness. Female-bodied people tend to store fat in their hips, legs and butts, while male-bodied people tend to store fat in their stomachs. This isn’t set in stone, though — some women have a bit more belly fat, some guys carry around a semi-truck behind them. A lot of that is genetic, so odds are, you carry fat in the same way whichever parent of the same biological sex does. 

Whether or not you will carry fat at all, though, is more determined by your habits. Beer isn’t solely capable of giving you a belly — any calorically dense beverage drunk in excess will do it, as will any other type of overeating. Because your body will process alcohol over fat for energy production, booze does put you at a disadvantage for weight loss, but any type of caloric surplus will lead to fat being stored on the body. 

Storing fat around the stomach specifically, though, is associated with a variety of health problems. Numerous studies have linked excess stomach fat to cancer, heart conditions and other major issues, potentially because of the proximity of the fat to major organs. This is true for any gender, but because men store fat in their stomachs more than women, it’s more of a concern for them. 

So, the reason you want to avoid your dad’s beer belly should be because you want to avoid his health woes, not his appearance. Your father had a beer belly because he consumed more calories than he burned, and because he stored fat in his stomach rather than elsewhere. That’s it! It doesn’t really have anything to do with the beer per se, except for that the beer might have been the source of his caloric surplus. 

If you want to avoid that, just be mindful of calories in and calories out. It can be more challenging to maintain your body weight as you age, but the power is still in your hands. You can even drink beer, so long as it fits within your daily caloric limit. Hypothetically, you could drink exclusively beer and not develop a beer belly, so long as you burned off all the calories you’d consumed. 

I don’t recommend that, but, still.