11 Causes Of Belly Fat

Last updated on November 13, 2022

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Also known as abdominal adiposity, belly fat is the excess abdominal fat that causes an increase in the waist size.

Belly fat is something that many people want to reduce. It may not only affect your physical appearance but can also pose health issues.

Carrying too much fat around your belly can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. 

 To reduce this, it wise to understand what causes it first. But before that, let us look at how you can measure belly fat. 

How To Measure Belly Fat

A simple way to tell whether you are carrying excess fat around your abdomen is by measuring your waist's circumference. 

To do this, stand and place your tape measure just above your hip bones. Do this when the stomach is not covered in any cloth.

Run the tape all around, ensuring that it is at the same level. Do not make it too loose or too tight.

If your waist's measurement is more than 89cm or 35 inches, it means that there is too much fat around your belly, and you need to do away with it. 

Causes of Belly Fat

Belly fat does not just settle on your waist. There are so many factors that lead to its accumulation within that area, as discussed below. 

1) Inactivity

One of the main factors making you have belly fat is being sedentary. If you spend most of your time sitting or sleeping, you are very susceptible to running your waistline.

Research indicates that inactivity leads to an increase in visceral fats and overall body weight gain.

When you are seated all day, there are no chances of your body needing more energy or increasing its metabolism to burn fats.

Additionally, eating more calories than you are burning, which happens when you are living a sedentary lifestyle, is disastrous to your belly

Exercising, taking walks, swimming, and doing hikes, among other tasks, are great activities that can help you burn belly fat

2) Alcohol


When consumed moderately, alcohol is not a threat to your waistline. The problem comes when you drink alcohol in large amounts. 

Besides leading to liver diseases, among other problems, excess alcohol reduces the ability of the body to burn fats. As a result, these extra calories are stored around the belly as fat.  

Other studies reveal that drinking a lot of alcohol makes the liver burn alcohol instead of fats. This is what leads to a beer belly.

Another aspect of drinking alcohol that causes an increase in calories in the body is that most people are likely to take one too many in one seating.

Drinking alcohol also involves taking foods or bites that are not always healthy or friendly to your waistline. It increases your appetite, and you end up eating more than you should. 

Even if you do not entirely do away with alcohol, consider reducing the amount that you consume and learn how to get rid of beer belly fat

3) Processed foods 

Processed, packaged, and fried foods are also significant causes of fats accumulation around your belly.

Most of these foods contain trans fats. Trans fats are forms of fats that are made stable through a process known as hydrogenation, making them unhealthy.

Trans fats are used to lengthen the shelf life of most packaged foods. They are not healthy because they contain a lot of calories. Additionally, they cause insulin resistance. 

Fried foods, just like processed foods, also overwhelm the body and take a longer time to digest due to their high-fat content. 

All of these factors lead to the disposition of fats around your belly.

To get a slimmer midsection, it is wise to reduce the consumption of foods such as baked goods, fries, and packaged products. 

Also, consider using healthy oils such as olive and avocado oil. 

4) High sugar intake


Too much sugar intake can also be the reason why you have excess fats around your waist.

Sugar is made up of fructose and glucose. Consuming too much of it affects your metabolism. The liver is usually overloaded with fructose such that it converts fats.

Eventually, this fat is usually deposited in your belly and liver. In severe cases, you might develop insulin resistance. 

Sugars are contained in many foods. The sugar you add to tea, candies, cakes, fruit juices, and soft drinks have lots of sugar.

Packaged foods and refined ones also contain sugar even when their labels indicate they do not. 

Fresh juices also contain lots of sugar. It is best to consume whole fruits instead of blending them. 

It is best to avoid these foods or look for healthier alternatives if you are looking to cut down belly fat and get a smaller waistline. 

5) Stress

stressed woman

High-stress levels are also associated with the accumulation of fats around your stomach.

When you are overly stressed, the adrenal glands release a stress hormone known as cortisol associated with abdominal obesity.

This hormone increases your appetite. That is why some people tend to look for comfort in food when they are stressed.

Studies further reveal that cortisol interferes with fat distribution in the body. Too much cortisol makes fats be stored in the central organs instead of areas like the hips.

You are also likely to reduce your physical activity when stressed. This further increases the chances of you adding extra weight around your stomach. 

To avoid the effects of stress on your abdomen, you must learn how to cope with stress. 

Seeking psychiatric help, exercising, and meditating are ways you can use to reduce stress levels. 

6) Low-protein diets 

Protein is essential in cutting belly fat. When you consume proteins in large amounts, your satiety increases, this means that you will feel full for an extended time. 

Protein also increases your metabolic rate. When your metabolism is high, your body burns fatter, enabling you to get a slimmer waist.

 Protein is also necessary for building muscular tissues in the body.

If your diet does not contain enough protein amounts, you could be missing out on its benefits in helping you cut belly fat and overall body weight. 

Low -protein diet will make you feel hungry, and you will keep on eating unnecessarily and unhealthily. You might end up consuming foods that are not good for losing belly fat.

With a low-protein diet, your body metabolism is not high. Lots of fats will not be burned and will end up being stored around your waistline. 

If your goal is to lose belly fat, fill your diet with a lot of proteins. Fish, seafood, nuts, lean meats, and seeds are excellent sources of protein. 

7) Low-fiber diets


Fiber plays a critical role in burning belly fat. This is the reason why it must be consumed in large amounts.

A fiber-filled diet will increase your satiety, and you will not need to keep on snacking regularly or overeating.

On the contrary, if you are not consuming enough fiber, you will be hungry most of the time. To suppress your hunger, you will keep eating and increase the number of calories that you consume. 

The best sources of fiber that you should consider incorporating into your diet include whole grains and vegetables. 

8) Heredity

Genes also play a significant role in determining fat accumulation around your belly. 

Your genes can determine your waist to hip ratios.

However, this does not mean that you get comfortable with having belly fat. By exercising, embracing a healthy lifestyle, and choosing healthy foods, you can get a slimmer waist. 

9) Too much appetite and cravings


To enhance the burning of your belly fat, you are supposed to consume fewer calories than you burn.

This might be difficult to do, mainly when you have a lot of appetite and cravings. 

Having many appetites can be caused by so many things such as being pregnant, stress, illnesses such as diabetes, among other conditions.

Eating a lot can cause a significant increase in the fats and weight around your stomach. When your cravings are high, you are also likely to eat foods that are not healthy.

To reduce appetite and cravings, you can first seek medical advice. There could be a possibility that you have an underlying condition that makes you eat a lot.

Other ways to reduce appetite and cravings include drinking lots of water and eating high proteins and fiber. 

10) Lack of enough sleep

Sleep deprivation not only makes you cranky but is also not ideal for your waistline.

Lack of sleep makes you hungry by increasing your hunger hormone. You are likely to eat lots of food or even unhealthy foods that can make you gain weight.

If you do not get enough sleep in the right sleeping position, you will also lose mental clarity and impulse control. You might not be in a position to control yourself from eating your cravings, which often are unhealthy foods.

Studies reveal that the need for late-night snacking increases due to sleep deprivation.

11) Menopause


Menopause is also another factor that causes the accumulation of fats around the belly.

As women get older, the metabolism slows down naturally, and body fat may increase if efforts are not made to keep weight gain.

Body fat distribution also changes. Instead of fats being stored in the thighs and hips, most of it ends up being deposited in the belly.

Hormonal fluctuations are also associated with menopause and can lead to weight gain. As a woman grows older, estrogen levels can either increase or decrease, leading to more fat storage within the abdomen area. 

Menopausal women also experience the loss of muscle mass. Consequently, their level of physical activity also decreases. If you are at this stage in life, you might struggle to find the motivation to workout.

Another aspect of menopause that causes weight gain is that it can lead to insulin resistance amongst some women. Insulin resistance makes losing weight, particularly around the mid-section, difficult. 

In spite of all these obstacles, if you are in menopause, ensure to work out and eat healthy as too much belly fat can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

12) Hormonal imbalance

Aside from menopause, you could suffer from hormonal imbalance due to stress, poor feeding habits, thyroid problems, and insufficient sleep, among other conditions. 

When your hormones are not balanced, you also likely to experience increased fats around your stomach leading to hormonal belly fat

To deal with this issue, ensure that your diet is low on carbohydrates and high on proteins. Avoid sugars, cookies, bread, and other refined carbs. 

Instead, focus on eating foods rich in healthy fats, fiber, and proteins such as seafood, vegetables, olives, berries, Greek yogurt, and avocados.

13) Wrong gut bacteria 

There are gut bacteria in our digestive system that help with the digestion of food and protect the gut from infections.

These bacteria are formed based on what you eat. They significantly impact how fat is stored in the body and, therefore, a key determinant in weight gain or weight loss.

An increase in the harmful bacteria in the gut is not suitable for your waistline. They increase fat storage in the stomach.

Luckily, you can increase good bacteria in your digestive system. The best way is by eating healthy foods that contain a lot of fiber.

Some of such foods include wholegrain, legumes, vegetables, fruits, broccoli, chickpeas, and lentils. 

Fermented foods are also ideal for enhancing the good bacteria in the gut. These foods are usually made by converting sugars into organic acids, which are beneficial to your health.

Some of the fermented foods you can consider include yogurt, kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut, among others.


Many factors lead to the accumulation of fats around the belly. The common causes are associated with diets and lifestyle choices.

Knowing the reason why you have belly fat is essential as it can help you come up with practical ways to burn that fat

Belly fat is more than skin deep because it is detrimental to your health. All the more reason why you should focus on dealing with its causes and losing it.

About the author

Nikita Clark

As a personal trainer that specializes in weight loss and body transformation, I know how it feels to be overweight. Just 10 years ago, I could barely walk for two minutes without needing a rest. But I turned my life around and I want to help you do the same.  

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