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What to know about belly bulges

Weight gain is an easy reason for a belly bulge, but other factors may be present. Some people carry a belly bulge for life while others notice growth over time.

We discuss the various causes of belly bulge in this article, and their treatment or prevention. We also discuss when to see a physician.

Distribution of body fat

Family eating together

If a person is moderately weighty or obese, their body fat may be distributed in a variety of ways.

The majority of belly fat is produced by subcutaneous fat. This sits just below the skin, and is pinchable.

Visceral fat, however, is another kind of belly fat that lies between the organs within the abdominal cavity. It has ties to many disorders, like hypertension , heart disease , and type 2 diabetes, research suggests.

Although the mechanisms of visceral body fat are unclear, one study suggests that a major factor is genetics.

In the United States, weight gain is a significant concern. In 2017-2018, 42.4 percent of U.S. adults were overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC).

Causes of belly bulge

Relatively harmless is a tiny amount of belly fat. The bigger the bulge, however, the greater the risk of serious illness.

A belly bulge may be caused by many variables.

Getting older

A person’s body composition changes as they age, which can lead to a belly bulge.

The reduction in the hormone estrogen during menopause induces an accumulation of body fat in females. Fat tissues generate estrogen, so to create a balance, more is created after menopause.

Hormone progesterone levels also decrease, which can lead to weight gain and bloating in the water.

An inevitable consequence of these hormonal and metabolic changes is the accumulation of belly fat.

Muscle tissue, muscle mass, and the ability to burn calories decline with age for both males and females.

Therefore, if a person continues to eat the same amount of calories every day, fat increases naturally.

Stress

Day-to-day stress in the modern world has a significant influence on the health and well-being of people. It not only mentally affects the body, but also interferes with its capacity to function normally.

The American Institute of Stress estimates that 77% of individuals experience physical signs of stress on a daily basis.

Unwanted belly fat has potential physical side effects. This relates to the cortisol stress hormone, which is produced in the adrenal glands of the body. Cortisol affects the storage of fat around the lower abdomen, while deep inside visceral fat its receptors are discovered.

During exercise, this hormone provides a physical boost. It also causes acute stress, however. It helps regulate mood and motivation while functioning in the brain.

Cortisol also handles how carbohydrates, fats , and proteins are used by the body. This controls blood pressure and can raise the level of blood sugar. Cortisol increases their need to eat sweet or soothing foods and beverages if a person is stressed.

Research suggests that people who are chronically depressed are more vulnerable to a high-fat , high-sugar diet.

Bloating

Also called distension, bloating occurs for many reasons. They include:

Usually, the sensation of pressure or swelling from bloating in the stomach should not be a cause for concern. It could refer to something that an individual has eaten. It should, therefore, pass reasonably quickly.

If bloating persists for an extended time, however, individuals may consider talking to a medical health professional.

Postpartum recovery

In the weeks and months after giving birth, a belly bulge is normal in individuals during postpartum recovery. To return to its usual size, the uterus takes 6–8 weeks.

An individual with concerns about a belly bulge may consider discussing a suitable diet and exercise programme with their doctor.

A symptom of diastasis recti, a disease that affects pregnant and postpartum individuals, can also be a belly bulge. This is a division of the muscles of the rectus abdominis, through which sideways connective tissue weakens and stretches. This contributes to a forward bulge where the muscles split.

Research shows that the symptoms of diastasis recti can be minimized by deep core stability exercises.

Alcohol

Moderation is important , particularly with alcohol, as with many things we consume.

Due to increased calorie intake, consuming too much alcohol can lead to a belly bulge. There are about 150 calories in an average beer.

Alcohol also hinders the burning of fat because the liver prioritizes alcohol burning off.

Over the long term, consuming too much alcohol also destroys liver tissue. Fresh tissue grows in its position when liver tissue is damaged in this way. The replacement tissue does not function as well, however. It does not contain the right enzymes and does not, as a healthy liver does, eliminate toxins and waste.

Food sensitivity or intolerance

Food allergy may be responsible for a regular sensation of bloating or stomach swelling over a long time.

Research suggests that up to 20 percent of the population can be affected by food intolerance. Popular sensitivities and food allergies include:

  • gluten
  • lactose
  • dairy

For guidance on food intolerance, people should consult a medical professional. They can refer them to a nutritionist who can prescribe strategies to reduce the issue, such as keeping a diet diary and using trial and error.

Prevention

With so many belly bulge causes, the goal is to recognise individual causes.

If the belly bulge is caused by obvious problems, such as food sensitivity or intolerance, a person should approach it directly.

The following are other basic treatments:

Diet

To lose weight, maintaining a balanced diet is important.

Junk food and high sugar items should be cut out by individuals, thus focusing on portion control. It is important to consume a selection of nutritious foods in limited quantities.

Lean meats, eggs , and fish provide protein, while healthy carbohydrates are provided by whole grains, potatoes, and berries. Fibrous vegetables can also be eaten by humans, as these help digestion.

Cutting down the intake of alcohol would also help reduce the bulge of the belly.

Exercise

For optimal effect, individuals should combine periodic exercise with a balanced diet.

During the week, an person starting from a sedentary lifestyle may take a few walks.

People should, however, first discuss every new workout regime with a healthcare professional. For someone returning to the gym after being away for a long time, this is extremely important.

Other helpful steps include:

  • moving around at work
  • using a standing workstation
  • taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • walking or biking as much as possible

People may attempt gentle swimming, yoga , tai chi, or pilates if strenuous exercise is too difficult.

Stay hydrated

Every day, people should try to drink about 2 liters of water. Digestion and calorie burning are aided by water.

Dehydration also results in higher levels of cortisol and extra stress. Holding the body and mind in equilibrium helps maintain healthy habits and a routine.

Sleep

A lack of sleep means that the body is unable to function properly, which may lead to extra weight gain.

Following a routine is necessary, as with exercise and diet. Every night, people should try to get eight hours of sleep.

When to see a doctor

As a person ages and his or her body changes, it becomes more and more difficult to keep weight off the belly. A balanced diet and exercise regimen, however, can also produce results in a matter of months.

If a person has put on a large amount of weight, they should speak with a healthcare provider immediately. The faster the evaluation of the problem, the better.

Takeaway

It is important not to ignore a growing belly bulge. For the well-being of a person, a healthy and functional abdomen and stomach area are crucial.

A person should exercise and eat a healthy diet to deal with a belly bulge. They should also consider consulting a medical professional about any concerns.