There are many causes of belly fat and we will be going over each one in this post. Belly fat is a very common problem that affects people of all ages so it’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Sometimes, simply changing your diet and lifestyle can help you get rid of belly fat naturally.
So belly fat is simply fat that is accumulated around the stomach area, it can appear around the upper, lower, or middle section of your stomach. There are two common types of belly fat, visceral and subcutaneous belly fat, this simply means fat that is accumulated around vital organs and outer layer fat.
Top 13 Causes Of Belly Fat + Side Effects
Belly fat is nothing to be afraid of and it’s usually caused by the foods you eat, however, it can also be caused by genetics or hormonal imbalance. Read on to learn more about what’s causing you to gain weight around your belly area plus the dangers and side effects it can have on your health.
1. Hormonal Imbalance
According to Medical News Today, there is a type of belly fat called “hormonal belly fat” which is caused by an imbalance in hormones that are produced by the thyroid glands. These hormones are responsible for regulating metabolism, hunger, stress, and weight gain around the stomach.
People with underactive thyroids, also known as hypothyroidism tend to have more belly fat because the thyroid isn’t producing the right amount of fat-regulating hormones. Also, people with hypothyroidism may have high cortisol levels (stress hormone) which is also a common cause of belly fat.
Other hormones responsible for belly fat are leptin, estrogen, and testosterone, so testing and getting treated for imbalances by a professional is very important.
According to this study, visceral belly fat that is not caused by obesity, hormonal imbalance, or an unhealthy diet may be caused by genetics. Unfortunately, this type of belly fat is harder to get rid of and in most cases, can only be reduced by weight training, cosmetic surgery, or liposuction.
3. Eating The Wrong Foods
Eating foods that are high in fat, carbs, saturated fat, sugar, and white flour can cause visceral belly fat (fat that covers your organs. This type of fat can lead to dangerous health conditions such as fatty liver, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
Some of the best ways to get rid of visceral belly fat naturally are by working out at least 30 minutes every day. Walking, swimming, cycling, strength training, and aerobics. are all great but eventually, you will also need to change your eating habits and switch to a healthy diet.
4. Eating Too Much
Eating a lot of food increases your calorie intake, therefore, it makes you gain weight around the belly area and leads to obesity. That said, if you eat a lot of healthy foods and actually burn those calories by working out, you will be able to increase muscle mass.
In most cases though, people who consume a lot of unhealthy foods tend to have low energy levels, which leads to inactivity resulting in low muscle mass, and a big belly.
5. Low Muscle Mass Around The Stomach
Muscles help burn fat, the more muscle mass you have the more weight you will lose. Having less muscle mass around your stomach area can cause fat storage. This does not mean that you need to have six-pack abs to lose belly fat though.
Simple exercises like aerobics, walking, sit-ups, swimming, yoga, and palates can increase and tone your muscles all over your body.
6. Too Much Stress
Stress is one of the most common causes of belly fat that’s because when you have stress, your cortisol levels go up. Now cortisol, which is a stress hormone can also be caused by hormonal imbalance which is why testing is necessary to determine the cause of high cortisol levels.
You see, when cortisol levels are high, it causes a low metabolic rate plus makes you overeat, and disrupts sleeping patterns. The best way to reduce stress is through lifestyle changes. Walking, dancing, and doing things that make you happy can help as well.
7. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Research shows that people who don’t get enough sleep (up to 8 hours) during the night tend to gain more weight. As for belly fat, the same study shows that those who slept for 4 hours at night gained 9% of subcutaneous belly fat and 11% of visceral belly fat.
Another article published by Medical News Today also stated that getting a well-rested sleep during the night can help you lose water weight. Now it’s over to you, try getting as much sleep as possible to help you get rid of that stubborn belly fat.
8. Smoking Cigarettes
So personally, I have been smoking for years and did not have a clue that smoking causes you to gain belly fat until I read this study. Apparently, smoking increases cortisol levels in the body which is a stress hormone that increases belly fat.
The article also stated the following:
nicotine has an anti-estrogen effect which also favors abdominal fat collection.
Now I know that smoking is a very hard habit to kick but it can be done. I have been trying for the past month to quit. I started with 1 and 1/2 packs per day and now I am down to 12 cigarettes daily. All I did was decreases the amount I smoked by one or 2 cigarettes daily and now, it’s so much easier so try it.
9. Drinking Alcohol
So a lot of people think that drinking alcohol can help with weight loss but that’s only true for heavy drinkers who skip meals and drink a lot. For moderate drinkers though, it’s actually the opposite. This study shows that people who drink moderately tend to be hungry more and crave greasy and fattening foods.
Another reason why drinking leads to belly fat is that it stops your body from burning fat because your liver will see alcohol as a toxin that needs to be eradicated. When your liver starts to focus on getting rid of alcohol toxins, it pushes the fat you consume from foods aside which leads to fat storage and visceral belly fat.
10. Low Protein Diet
Studies show that people who eat a low-protein diet tend to gain weight and belly fat that’s because protein helps keep you full longer during the day and increases muscle mass. Muscles help your body burn more calories even when you are resting.
This study also shows that people who eat quality dietary protein such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds tend to have less abdominal fat. So definitely go ahead and start adding them to your diet.
Another common cause of belly fat is menopause, unfortunately, it’s bound to happen someday to all of us women. What happens is that after menopause, our estrogen level decreases which causes fat storage around the stomach area.
You see, estrogen helps increase our resting metabolic rate which means, it slows down how much weight we gain. When the body stops producing enough estrogen, the body stops using starch and sugar as fuel the right way. This leads to increase fat storage around the belly area and overall weight gain.
The only way to combat menopausal belly fat is by actually taking hormone replacement therapy, exercising regularly, and choosing a healthy diet.
12. Bacteria Overgrowth
According to this article, people who experience bacteria overgrowth in the gut tend to suffer from constipation and weight gain plus belly fat. This is because when there is an overgrowth of yeast or candida in the intestines, you tend to crave more foods that are high in carbs and sugars.
Your energy levels tend to drop which leads to fat storage. You may also know that consuming high amounts of sugars and carbs can lead to fatty liver disease (visceral fat), diabetes, inflammation ( causes of belly fat), and overall weight gain. Watch out for symptoms and get treated right away to reduce belly fat storage.
13. Not Eating Enough Fiber
Did you know that simply eating 30 grams of dietary fiber daily helps you lose weight just like other healthy and effective diet plans? You see, dietary fiber helps keep you feeling full longer during the day, slows down the digestion of carbs and sugar, and aids in weight and belly fat loss.
Dangers & Side Effects Of Belly Fat
Now that we’ve covered the causes of belly fat, it’s time to talk a little about the potential dangers and side effects of belly fat specifically visceral belly fat. You see, subcutaneous belly fat doesn’t really pose a risk to your health, it just makes fitting in your skinny jeans frustrating.
It’s the visceral belly fat that you need to be concerned about because it’s the type of fat that is deep down around your internal organs. This type of fat can be really hard to get rid of and can cause side effects to your overall health. some of these health problems include:
1. Heart Disease
When visceral fat accumulates around your internal organs, it causes inflammation which narrows the blood vessels around your heart. Long-term symptoms may lead to heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke. That is why you see people with very large stomach experience a lot of heart problems.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
Another side effect of visceral belly fat is that it releases higher levels of triglycerides into the bloodstream and causes inflammation. When this happens, your body won’t be able to use the insulin it produces properly. When insulin isn’t processed correctly, glucose starts to build up in the bloodstream.
Having high levels of sugar in the blood can lead to type 2 diabetes so this is definitely a good reason to start getting rid of belly fat asap.
3. High Cholesterol
According to Havard University, visceral fat releases fatty acids into the bloodstream which enter the vein and travel to the liver. When fatty acids reach the liver, they cause the liver to produce blood lipids causing high cholesterol LDL and low HDL levels.
4. Breathing Problems
Another danger of visceral belly fat is that affects your breathing by pressing on your chest wall and diaphragm. This causes your lungs to not fill up with air properly. In almost all cases, simply reducing belly fat can help reduce this pressure and improve your breathing.
5. Liver Problems
Not only does visceral belly fat cause high cholesterol levels, but it also leads to fatty liver disease when left untreated. Fatty liver disease is usually caused by obesity and does not cause harm but having it long-term can lead to liver damage and cirrhosis.
Now you know about the causes of belly fat and all the tools you need to help you get rid of it. Don’t forget to share this post if you found it helpful. I would also love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time, stay awesome mama!