Lower belly fat affects many people, and recognizing and understanding its causes can help you burn it off. Sometimes hormones can be the culprit for excess belly fat. As we age or experience lifestyle changes, our hormone levels can fluctuate due to several factors, such as menopause or high stress levels, resulting in a hormonal belly.
Fortunately, many tips and treatment options are available to help you get your hormones in check and lose hormonal body fat to achieve your ideal body weight.
What Are the Causes of Hormonal Belly Fat?
So, what exactly is hormonal belly? A hormonal belly is lower abdominal weight gain caused by an imbalance of hormones. Hormones help regulate many bodily functions such as our metabolism, sex drive, hunger and reproductive functions.
An imbalance of your hormones resulting in certain hormone levels being too low or too high can cause excess weight gain in the lower belly. Let’s go over some of the most common causes of hormonal belly fat.
Menopause, also known as the change of life, results in a significant change in hormone levels. It occurs naturally for most women after the age of 45 once their ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone. A woman will have reached menopause if she has not had a period for over a year.
Studies published by the National Institute of Health have shown that menopause and weight gain are related. A significant change in hormone levels, especially the decreased production of the hormone estrogen, can result in excess abdominal fat. And because menopause occurs at a later stage in life, age and altered amounts of exercise and diet changes can also influence how much weight a woman could gain during this time.
2. Slow Thyroid
A thyroid releases hormones responsible for controlling our metabolism, which is how our bodies use energy. Because these hormones are responsible for such a vital process, they can ultimately affect several organs and affect how much energy your body is burning throughout the day.
Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones to meet your body’s needs. Without enough thyroid hormones, many of your body’s functions will slow down. One of those functions includes your body burning energy from the food you are eating at a slower rate, resulting in weight gain, especially in the lower abdomen.
3. Increased or Imbalanced Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a hormone that helps the body manage and respond to stress or danger and plays an essential role in our flight or fight response. When you feel stressed, your adrenal glands will produce more cortisol, which sends signals to your body to store more fat.
Suppose you are dealing with high levels of stress, anxiety or any stress-related disorders. In that case, your body will produce increased amounts of cortisol, and high cortisol levels can lead to excess belly fat and weight gain.
Estrogen is a hormone associated with the reproductive organs and is responsible for sexual characteristics. Estrogen levels can significantly impact how body fat is distributed, which often changes as we age. As we discussed above, menopause will cause estrogen levels to decrease, resulting in weight gain around the abdominal area.
Postmenopausal women will stop producing estrogen in their ovaries and will instead produce it in their body fat in much lower amounts. If your body has low estrogen levels, it could be the cause of your hormonal belly fat.
5. Insulin Resistance
The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which is activated whenever we eat. It is primarily responsible for allowing glucose to enter our cells and give our body energy from the food we eat. It can also help regulate our blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance affects millions of Americans and can also be a cause of hormonal weight gain. If your cells become resistant to insulin, they can’t store glucose like they should, resulting in high blood sugar and affecting your body’s ability to store fat. High insulin levels will signal your body to store more fat, especially around the abdomen. If you have insulin resistance, it could be the culprit of your lower belly fat.
6. High Leptin
High levels of the hormone leptin are also associated with increased weight gain in the lower belly. Fat cells release leptin, which sends signals to your brain that trigger a feeling of fullness after eating, signaling that your body has stored enough fat.
If you are overweight, your body will produce high leptin levels. Too many signals from fat cells can bombard your brain, causing it to get confused and stop responding to the leptin signals. High leptin levels can lead to excess hunger because you don’t feel full, resulting in weight gain.
Signs Your Hormones Are Causing Weight Gain
Several different factors can cause belly fat, including gender, age, dietary habits and amounts of physical exercise and hormonal misfiring. So how can you tell if hormones are the cause of your abdominal weight gain? While you can look out for some signs, it’s important to discuss any of your questions with a doctor to identify the root cause. Sometimes it’s not always so obvious and can vary from person to person.
Here are a few warning signs and symptoms you can look out for to help identify the cause of your belly fat:
You Constantly Feel Stressed or Anxious
If you are currently experiencing an event that is causing you a lot of stress or work in a high-stress career that makes you feel anxious, your body could be producing high levels of the hormone cortisol.
If you are constantly feeling this way, your body will be producing high levels of cortisol to help you manage that stress. As a result, this hormone can signal your body to store more fat, resulting in weight gain, mainly in the abdominal region.
You’re Losing Hair
If you are experiencing an accelerated amount of hair loss with an increase in belly fat, your hormones could be to blame. Various hormones can cause hair loss, including underactive thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones help manage your body’s energy and metabolism, meaning they can affect your body weight if you aren’t producing enough hormones.
Thyroid hormones also work together with several other hormones, proteins and chemical messages in the body. Inadequate levels of thyroid hormones can result in hair loss, fatigue, constipation and weight gain. If you’re experiencing both hair loss and weight gain, an underactive thyroid could be the culprit.
You’re Experiencing New Cravings
Hormones might cause your hormonal belly if you’re experiencing some new cravings that are unusual for you, especially for sugary foods. If you’re finding yourself with a constant sweet tooth, your body might be struggling with insulin resistance.
Due to your cells not properly absorbing insulin, high insulin levels will signal your body to store more fat. Elevated insulin levels can also cause increased amounts of the hormone leptin, which gives you a feeling of fullness after eating. High leptin levels combined with insulin resistance can lead you to start excessively eating sugary foods, resulting in lower belly weight gain over time.
What Causes Hormone Imbalance?
A hormone imbalance can be the root cause of your struggles to get rid of belly fat. Many different factors can cause a hormone imbalance, including your diet, physical exercise routine and even your age and genetics. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of hormone imbalance.
Lack of Sleep
A good night’s sleep is crucial for your body and hormones to relax, repair, and restore themselves for the next day. It’s essential for brain functions that allow you to focus and perform your tasks throughout the day. Missing out on a full night’s rest can create an imbalance of the ghrelin and leptin hormones.
Ghrelin is responsible for making you feel hungry and telling you when to eat, and leptin is responsible for making you feel full after your meal. An imbalance of these two hormones can create an increased appetite, causing you to eat more and never feel full afterward.
Change in Exercise or Diet
Maintaining a moderate level of exercise is vital for many reasons. It can help lower stress, burn calories, build strength and help release tension. If you haven’t exercised in a while, you might find that you have higher stress hormone levels of cortisol.
Cortisol is activated when we feel stressed and sends signals to the body to store more fat. By cutting out exercise, you may develop a hormone imbalance contributing to your lower belly fat. Eating sugary and fatty foods while cutting out the proper nutrients you need can also cause hormone imbalances of ghrelin and leptin, causing you to eat even more.
Age and Genetics
As we age, changes naturally occur in how body systems are controlled, causing some functions to become less sensitive to hormones and changing the amount of hormones our body produces. Our metabolism slows down with age, causing some hormones to slow down, such as our thyroid hormones. Menopause can result in lower levels of the hormone estrogen, and aging can also cause cells to become less sensitive to insulin, creating insulin resistance.
Family history can also play a significant role in whether you might have or develop a hormone imbalance. Knowing your family history and whether a particular type of hormone imbalance runs in your family could help you identify the cause of your lower belly fat.
Tips for How to “Reset” Your Hormones
With today’s modern lifestyle, hormone imbalances are becoming increasingly common due to stress and other factors. Fortunately, you can make some lifestyle adjustments to your everyday routine to help get your hormones back on track. Here are some top tips for how to reduce belly fat and combat hormonal misfiring:
1. Eat Nutritious Meals
Making sure you get enough nutrients is key to leading a healthy lifestyle and can help keep your hormone levels from fluctuating. Ensuring you eat enough protein, fruits and veggies and avoiding high sugar and fatty foods is essential.
Protein influences several hormones that control your appetite and food intake. Making sure you include high-protein foods in your diet can help you avoid overeating. Sugary foods that contain fructose increase insulin levels and promote insulin resistance, so avoiding these foods may be instrumental in getting your hormones on the right track.
2. Engage in Regular Exercise
Creating an exercise routine and sticking with it can be a significant lifestyle change for some and can take some getting used to. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should aim for 150 minutes of weekly, moderate-intensity activity for optimal body function. Exercise is excellent for keeping your hormones in check. If you’re searching for tips on how to lose hormonal fat, exercise is the perfect opportunity to burn belly fat and calories.
3. Take Steps to Reduce Stress
Research shows that stress can take a toll on your hormones, primarily the stress hormone cortisol, and taking steps to reduce your stress levels can help you balance your hormones. Stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, exercise and listening to relaxing music are all great ways to help manage stress.
Treatment Options to Get Rid of Hormonal Belly Fat
Hormonal belly fat is common for many people, and it can be tricky to burn off that excess belly fat. Fortunately, some treatment options can help with this process.
Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy
Thyroid hormones are a common cause of hormonal imbalances that cause weight gain in the abdominal area. At Synergy Wellness Center, we offer thyroid hormone replacement therapy which includes replacing your thyroid hormone with more youthful or active levels. Thyroid hormone replacement is an excellent option to help get those hormones back on track, helping you lose that pesky lower belly fat*.
Body Shaping Procedures
We also offer several body shaping procedures designed to help you achieve your ideal body image and weight. At Synergy Wellness Center, we are dedicated to providing you with advanced and affordable body shaping and fat removal techniques designed especially for your body and goals. We can help you achieve excellent results and experience a new boost of self-confidence*.
Contact Synergy Wellness Center to Schedule a Medical Weight Loss Consultation
At Synergy Wellness Center, we understand that sometimes hormones and belly fat go hand-in-hand. We can help you treat and reset your hormones to help you start losing hormonal weight*. We offer personalized weight loss plans designed especially for you and your needs to help you live a happy and healthy lifestyle.