Sometimes eating less does not translate to weight loss. Some people experience the frustrating situation of eating in moderation and still having excess fat. What causes this problem?
Weight gain most often results from overeating, but it can also be caused by a hormonal imbalance.
Hormones are molecules secreted by glands in the endocrine system. The role of hormones is to send information to cells, regulating different functions such as our mood, metabolism, energy levels, fertility, appetite, and more.
Many factors can disrupt hormone levels, cause a disorder, and lead to fat accumulation, especially in the abdominal area.
This article explains how to recognize fat accumulation due to a hormonal imbalance, which hormones are responsible, and how to get rid of hormonal belly fat.
Hormonal belly fat is fat accumulated in the abdomen and around the waistline. Some signs that help distinguish between “normal” and hormonal belly fat include:
Note: Apart from decreased libido caused by hormonal belly fat, there are multiple causes of lowered libido. Check out our article on low sex drive in women to learn more.
Hormonal belly fat is not only difficult to get rid of with calorie-restricted diets and exercise but can also signal a more serious health issue.
The reason hormonal belly fat may be dangerous is that it consists mainly of visceral fat. Unlike subcutaneous fat that is underneath the skin and close to the surface, visceral fat in the abdomen is stored near vital organs (liver, stomach, intestines) and may cause:
Our glands release over 60 hormones to regulate a whole array of bodily functions. When aging, stress, lack of sleep, or medical factors disturb hormonal activity, we can experience an increase in our belly size.
Below we describe the seven hormones that most commonly cause hormonal belly fat when their normal levels are disturbed.
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. The adrenal gland increases the production of cortisol when we feel stress, agitation, panic, or fear. The body goes into “survival mode” in an attempt to protect itself from what it perceives as danger and stores more fat in the abdominal area.
Apart from belly fat, continually high cortisol levels may increase blood pressure, cholesterol, and the chance of heart disease.
Estrogen is the “female” hormone responsible for the development of female characteristics. It is also present in men, but it mostly causes hormonal belly fat in women. It is actually a decrease in the production of estrogen, as seen during the perimenopause and menopause, that causes the accumulation of visceral fat in the abdominal region. Low estrogen levels can lead to other undesired processes, such as sleep issues, brittle bones, facial volume loss, and more.
The role of leptin is to regulate our appetite and metabolism. It sends a message to our bodies when we’ve had enough to eat. However, when the production of leptin is impaired, we don’t feel satiated and continue to eat. Thus, we gain fat in the belly area.
Testosterone is the “male” hormone responsible for the development of male characteristics, though women also produce it. Decreased testosterone levels lead to belly fat accumulating and may also cause erectile dysfunction, depression, decreased libido, loss of body hair, etc.
The pancreas produces insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Increased sugar intake may lead to insulin resistance, which in turn causes leptin resistance, hormonal belly fat, and potentially a whole range of health issues.
Androgens are male hormones, such as testosterone and androstenedione. Women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) experience increased androgen levels, as well as higher insulin production. This hormonal disbalance may cause hormonal belly fat to appear.
Other signs of PCOS include irregular menstrual cycles, thinning hair, hirsutism, and acne.
The thyroid gland produces two hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). They regulate a range of bodily functions, including our metabolism and digestive functions. When the production of T3 and T4 slows down, the metabolic processes also slow down, resulting in weight gain, especially around the belly.
Note: Find out more on what causes hormonal weight gain and how can you deal with this issue.
It is easy to spot the accumulation of fat in the abdominal region and this fat may be caused by a hormonal imbalance.
The following tips may help you address hormonal issues and get rid of excess belly fat.
If you don’t see results from low-calorie diets and regular physical activity, schedule an appointment with a reputable medical provider to check your hormone levels and get appropriate medications.
Our medical professionals at Vibrant Vitality Clinic have vast experience and take a holistic approach to addressing these issues. Our hormone replacement therapies are specially formulated for each patient and take into account both the patient’s hormonal imbalance symptoms and overall health.
High intake of unhealthy sugars may lead to insulin spikes and insulin resistance, causing hormonal belly fat and more serious health issues. Limit or eliminate sugar from your diet.
Calorie-restricted diets are often ineffective when it comes to the quick removal of hormonal belly fat. However, whole, healthy foods may help stabilize hormonal levels, promote overall health, and contribute to weight loss and weight management in the long run.
The best types of food for hormonal imbalance include:
Research shows that regular physical activity has numerous health benefits, including weight management and less risk of cardiovascular disease. For best results, aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week such as brisk walking, aerobics, swimming, bicycling, yoga, or other moderate to vigorous physical activity. It may not decrease your hormonal belly fat quickly, but it will definitely help over time and in combination with other healthy lifestyle habits.
Healthy foods are typically less caloric than “junk” food. However, if you eat in excess, you can still consume more sugars and fat than your body needs, gain weight, and disrupt hormonal levels. Mind your portion size, and don’t overeat.
If you need structured discipline in your eating habits, try intermittent fasting. Research shows it promotes healthy metabolic processes, helps with weight loss, and provides a range of health benefits, including balancing hormones.
One of the most popular free intermittent fasting options is the 16:8 diet, in which you fast for 16 hours and eat for eight hours. Only water and unsweetened tea are allowed during the fasting period.
Excess belly fat can make people feel unattractive and undermine their confidence. If it is caused by a hormonal imbalance, it can also point to an underlying health issue.
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with this medical concern, including hormone replacement therapies and lifestyle changes. Contact the Vibrant Vitality Clinic team to find the best treatment option for your hormonal belly fat.
Make sure to read our article and find out how can hormones help maintain a younger look and what is anti-aging hormone therapy.
4325 E Indian School Rd, Suite 130
Phoenix, AZ 85018
Monday - Friday: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm