Fitness & Nutrition

11 Reasons You’re Gaining Belly Fat and What You Can Do to Stop It

TIMEDecember 29, 2021

Our bellies are one of the most noticeable body parts when we gain weight. A tell-tale sign that we have gained some pounds is that we can’t fit in our jeans anymore.

We have some explanations regarding the causes for adding a few inches in the belly when men and women gain weight.

1. Sugary Foods and Beverages

Cakes, candies, frozen yogurt, flavored coffee drinks, sodas and sweet tea are only some of the most popular sugar-sweetened food and beverages. Though it’s hard saying “no” to these tempting foods, they are likely the culprit of your increased belly. Added sugar like high fructose corn syrup gets stored as fat. Make sure to read labels for added sugar and when you have a sweet craving reach for a fresh piece of fruit instead.

2. Alcohol

Alcohol, when consumed in moderate amounts, can have healthful benefits such as lowering your risk of stroke and heart disease. High alcohol intake, on the other hand, can lead to health problems but also an increase belly fat. Alcohol suppresses fat burning, has a lot of sugar, and the excess calories from it are stored as belly fat. This is where the term “beer belly” came from.

3. Trans Fats

Trans fats are unhealthy fats that are usually added to packaged foods to extend their shelf life. Aside from being linked to various diseases like heart disease and insulin resistance, a diet that has high in trans fats can cause excess fat in the stomach. So before you take a mouthful of that muffin, have a second thought and think of your belly.

Epoch Times Photo
Instead of doing cardio, hit the weights first or try high intensity workouts. (Kzenon/istock)

4. Inactivity

Over the past few years, the number of people that are having a sedentary life has been increasing. This is partly due to the popularity of smartphones, high-definition TV and other gadgets that will keep you planted on the couch for hours. People that are less active have a greater chance of having severe abdominal obesity than those that have an active lifestyle. So take the stairs at work, park further away when shopping, and track your steps to keep more active every day.

5. Low-Protein Diets

Healthy food that is rich in protein should be in your diet if you want to prevent weight gain as it increase your metabolism and keeps you feeling full for a long period of time. Low protein diet, however, may cause you to gain belly fat over a period of time. Low protein intake increases the production of neuropeptide Y (NPY) which is a hormone known to increase your appetite and belly fat gain.

6. The Wrong Gut Bacteria

There are millions of bacteria that live in our gut, some of them have health benefits while others cause problems. Having a balance of gut bacteria is important in maintaining overall health. Some research has shown that one of the causes of weight gain and abdominal fat is an imbalance in gut bacteria. Firmicutes is a type of bacteria that is increased by high-calorie food intake and found in greater number in obese people.

7. Stress and Cortisol

Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is necessary for survival. When produced in excess though, it can lead to weight gain, especially in the stomach area. And some people tend to over-eat when they are in a stressful situation, so this is another contributing factor.

8. Low-Fiber Diets

Fiber is important for healthy metabolism and for controlling your weight. Diets that is high in soluble fiber decreases belly fat accumulation while diets that are low in fiber and high in refined carbs do otherwise. Fiber also helps balance the bacteria in your gut mentioned in item #6 above. Fiber feeds the good bacteria.

9. Genetics

Some people gain belly weight because of a genetic predisposition. This is because genes play a huge role in our body’s tendency to store fats. We can make lifestyle choices that determine how our genes express like minimizing sugar, exercising, meditating to relieve stress and eating a lot of whole foods.

10. Not Enough Sleep

Not getting enough sleep leads to weight gain and obesity. Your metabolism slows down when you don’t have a good sleep. Healing and recovery are hampered and people who haven’t slept well tend to go for sugary snacks for an energy boost to make it through the day. Another issue that can affect sleep is sleep apnea. This is a sleeping disorder in which soft tissue is blocking the airway which causes repeated stops of breathing. A study has found that men with this disorder have more belly fat than those without. Visit a sleep clinic to see if this is an issue for you.

11. You’re Doing the Wrong Workout

If you have been spending so much time in the gym but can’t seem to get rid of your belly fat, then you may be doing a wrong workout. Instead of doing cardio, hit the weights first or try high intensity workouts. Metabolism-boosting muscles are important to develop in order to lose fats in stubborn areas like your stomach.

Now that you know some of the reasons why you are gaining belly fat, it’s time to make some lifestyle changes. Having a healthy diet and an active lifestyle are a key to achieving your ideal body and lifelong health.

This article was originally published on

Lisa Roth Collins is a registered holistic nutritionist and also the marketing manager at, which first published this article.