Want to know how to get rid of hormonal belly fat?
Everybody who has belly fat knows not only how unsightly and unattractive it can be but it’s also stubbornly hard it is to get rid of.
Many times you could be doing everything seemingly right with your diet and exercise but the belly fat will refuse to go away. It’s not only frustrating but also can make you feel self-conscious about your physical appearance.
But there is a reason why abdomen fat is so stubborn to get rid of. You might be fighting an uphill battle against your hormones that are causing your stomach fat in the first place.
What you’re eating and the amount matter a lot but if you’ll be fighting a losing battle if your hormones are out of whack. But once you fix your stomach fat-causing hormones your body will quickly shed off these extra inches around your tummy. Here I’ll show you the secret to fixing your hormones so you’ll know how to lose belly fat fast.
What Causes Hormonal Belly Fat?
Your body attempts to maintain a very delicate hormonal balance to make sure everything is running optimally. But for one reason or another, your hormones can get out of sync due to your diet, lack of activity or lifestyle factors. Plus as you age your belly fat burning hormones will also gradually go downhill.
Having stomach fat might not only be physically unsightly but it could very well lead to serious health problems like heart disease, fatty liver disease, and metabolic syndrome (1,2,3). High blood pressure and diabetes are also linked to the hormone cortisol (4,5). Visceral fat is the worse as it surrounds and places pressure on your organs. Subcutaneous belly fat isn’t that bad for your health as it lies right underneath your skin.
People who have a big belly bulge or an apple-shaped body tend to be more likely to have visceral fat (6). But if you can use your fingers to pinch your abdominal fat then you most likely have less dangerous subcutaneous abdomen fat.
Now everybody knows calories and carbs can drastically affect how much weight you gain. But when it comes to stomach fat your hormones are largely to blame. Your hormones control and delegate how much body fat burns and from where. So it makes sense that if your hormones are out of whack then your body is going to stubbornly hold on to excess abdominal fat.
Stressed out Belly
One of the biggest most well known hormonal causes of belly fat is chronically elevated cortisol levels (7). Cortisol is known as the “fight or flight” hormone and can cause a survival instinct in your body (8). This forces your body to store excess fat (usually in the stomach) for future survival needs. When you think about it your ancestors needed to have fat stores in case of future famine. But nowadays with food so readily available, it backfires by forcing your body to store unsightly abdominal fat.
If you’re living a constantly stressed out life then there’s a good chance your cortisol levels are through the roof. Finding ways to lower your stress hormone levels is going to be of the utmost importance to lower the amount of cortisol pumping through your body. I know this is easier said than done but you must start taking steps to lower your cortisol soon. Otherwise, you might never lose your hormonal belly.
If you want to know how to lose fat belly then not getting enough sleep is also a cause of elevated cortisol levels (9). Then next thing you know having elevated cortisol from lack of sleep can harm your thyroid (10). Having worsening thyroid function can also lead to weight gain in the abdominal area (11).
I’d recommend taking some CBD oil if you’re having trouble with your stress hormone levels or getting enough sleep. Study on study has found it to be effective for lower stress and anxiety (12). Plus it’ll help you fall asleep faster and into a deeper REM cycle of sleep (13).
Try to also add in HIIT workouts into your exercise regimen. Now I know it might seem logical to think exercise will only make you more stressed out and tired. But this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Intense exercise will help to raise belly fat burning hormones such as growth hormone and improve insulin sensitivity (14,15).
Insulin Resistance and sugar are the devil
Insulin resistance is another big hormonal cause of stomach fat increases (16). Usually, this is brought on by eating too many foods that spike your blood sugar causing an insulinemic response in your body.
Sugar, refined carbs, fruit juices, high glycemic foods, and processed foods can all cause a bad insulin response in your body. Our bodies are programmed from thousands of years of survival instincts to store belly fat when you eat this kind of food. This helps your body store up extra energy for winter or famine. This would be imperative for your ancestor’s survival.
Insulin is produced in your pancreas and its main job is to move nutrients from the foods you eat into the cells of your fat, muscles, and liver (17). When insulin is released into your body it’s also going to slow down your fat-burning metabolism by not allowing your body to burn off fat for fuel (18).
But by eating too many of the above bad foods your body is gradually going to become insulin resistant. The negative impact of this will be having more trouble burning off fat for energy and instead will promote the storage of belly fat.
Insulin can also negatively impact other fat-burning hormones in your body such as leptin. Leptin is known as the “anti-starvation hormone” and is produced by your fat cells. Researchers now believe leptin resistance to be a driving force of modern-day obesity (19).
Leptin’s job is to tell your brain that you’ve already eaten enough food so it can then readily burn off fat for energy (20). When your body becomes leptin resistant it can cause you to feel hungrier. Plus it’ll lower the amount of fat your body burns off.
Your body will gradually improve insulin and leptin sensitivity when you stop eating the bad foods above. Instead, eat a high protein diet and what you’ll discover in my Food List Cheat Sheet.
Growling Ghrelin Hormones
Now ghrelin is known as your “hunger hormone” and you know when it’s in full effect because you’ll feel hungry (21). Then once you finish eating a full meal these ghrelin levels should go down. This will naturally reduce how hungry you feel.
One of the problems with eating more frequent meals per day is it’ll train your body to feel hungrier more often. Elevated ghrelin levels throughout the day will eventually make you feel a higher frequency of hunger too. But by using Intermittent Fasting you can train your body to feel less hungry more often.
For a long time eating more frequent meals was known to “increase the metabolism” and this is still true to an extent. The problem is these studies is the researchers had controlled meals and calories for the participants could eat. But when you leave people up to their own devices they’re going to overeat on every one of these meals. This causes them to store more and more belly fat (22).
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know if you’re feeling hungrier more often then you’re going to end up overeating. This is a sure-fire recipe to cause more belly fat for you in the long run. So by implementing an Intermittent Fasting plan, you can gradually lower your levels of hunger. It works by training your body to secrete less of this “hunger hormone” known as ghrelin (23).
Beer Bellies & Low Testosterone
As men age their levels of testosterone are also going to go down and down (24). Now, this is considered to be a normal response to the aging process. But diet, lack of exercise and other lifestyle factors can drive testosterone levels down into the dumps.
Studies have found men with lower testosterone levels are more likely to develop belly fat (25). Then this excess belly fat can be converted into estrogen if they’re under high-stress levels. Then next thing you know they’re fighting belly fat caused by both low testosterone and high estrogen levels. But studies have also found belly fat to go down when testosterone was increased (26).
Many men also like to drink a lot of beer but unfortunately, the hops in beer also contain phytoestrogens (27). These phytoestrogens are similar to estrogen. This can cause men to have increases in estrogen which leads to belly fat and man boobs. Plus drinking alcohol itself has been linked in studies to cause increases in abdominal fat as well (28).
Some natural ways to increase your testosterone is to lift weights, lower stress, get enough sleep, take vitamin D3, and get enough minerals such as zinc and magnesium (29,30,31,32,33). If none of these are getting your testosterone levels up high enough then consider talking to your doctor about testosterone replacement therapy as well.
Growth Hormone & DHEA
These are two hormones in your body that can naturally decrease with age but are very important for your overall body appearance.
Human growth hormone (HGH) helps both men and women build more lean muscle (34). And this muscle is important for improving both the fat-burning metabolism as well as controlling your blood sugar and insulin levels (35). When levels of HGH are too low then your body will be more likely to store fat (36). It’ll also be more likely to become “skinny fat” which can lead to a pot belly appearance.
DHEA is made by your adrenal glands and your body converts it to estrogen, testosterone and other hormones. And just as importantly DHEA is responsible for having an active part in how your body burns and stores fat in your belly (37). Studies have found having adequate levels of DHEA can cause your body to burn off excess belly fat and improve insulin sensitivity (38).
Both HGH and DHEA levels naturally decrease as you age so it’s important to increase the amount you have naturally. Intermittent Fasting has been found to boost HGH levels as well as lowering the amount of sugar you consume (39,40). Optimizing your sleep and intense exercise can also lead to improvements in these two vital hormones.
Menopausal Belly Bulge
Weight gain for many women is common with menopause. This is because their bodies become more estrogen dominant (41). This high amount of estrogen leads to more insulin resistance ending with increases in abdominal fat (42).
Even women in perimenopause notice they’ll start gaining weight around their midsection (43). Hormonal fluctuations of estrogen lead to these increases in “unexplained” weight gain. Bad sleep, loss of muscle and worsening insulin sensitivity also lead to weight gain in the abdominal during this time.
Women in menopause also have a worsening fat-burning metabolism so they won’t be burning off as much as fat they used to (44). This is why lowering your calories too much can be worse for the belly. It’ll cause women to lose more muscle plus lower fat-burning metabolism at the same time.
But this doesn’t mean all hope is lost if you’re suffering from menopausal belly fat. Studies have found postmenopausal women on hormonal replacement therapy ended up having a decrease in belly fat (45).
Eating a high protein diet, lots of fiber, drinking weight-loss teas, getting plenty of sleep, lowering stress levels and working out with resistance training are proven ways to decrease the menopausal belly bulge.
How do you get rid of a hormonal belly?
Focus on doing the things that help to reverse the damage caused by out of whack hormones. This includes focusing on your diet, intense workouts, optimizing sleep and lowering high-stress levels. For a complete diet and workout plan to optimize your hormones check out The Flat Belly Formula.
The Last Word
I know it can seem impossible to fight off the causes of a hormonal belly but you can lose it when you focus on what works. Getting to the root cause of your hormonal belly can be difficult to pinpoint but focusing on all of the above will optimize your hormones to burn more belly fat.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much you cut your calories if your hormones are out of whack. This is why the calories you eat aren’t everything when it comes to weight loss especially as you age. There are more underlying reasons such as your hormones that can cause unexplained weight gain and increases in belly fat. You’ll also improve your liver health as well as fight off diabetes.
But just because your hormones are causing you to pack on more belly fat there is still hope. By correcting your out of whack hormones your body will soon respond by melting off that stubborn belly fat. Now it’s time to get your hormones right so you can drop this stomach fat fast.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.