What Causes A Big Belly In Women?

Amaris B.

Archive Date:

October 8, 2020

Having a big belly in women does make one self-conscious as it is hard to conceal. More crucially and perhaps detrimental, it can lead to a myriad of health issues.

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Blog last updated on:

January 4, 2023

Stubborn belly fat is a common physical condition and arguably, one of the most dreaded as it is hard to eliminate.

In women, this ordinarily happens as they get older and head into menopause. In men and with age, excess fat tends to accumulate in the abdomen region resulting in its appearance; that of a big belly.

Having a big belly in women does make one self-conscious as it is hard to conceal. More crucially and perhaps detrimental, it can lead to a myriad of health issues.

What is a ‘Big belly”?

It is not hard to visualise how a “big belly” looks like. But if you are unsure as to whether it is caused by excess belly fat or perhaps bloatedness, a doctor’s examination will clear things up. Generally for women, a reading of 35 inches or more (measured around the stomach just above the hip bone level), could indicate that there is a possible high concentration of belly fat.

Aside from the inevitable aging, there are other contributing factors in the formation of belly fat.

Top 10 Contributing Factors of Big belly In Women

01. Calories Consumed

We need energy to function and we get them from the food we eat. Our calorie intake ideally should be enough for what we need but counting calories is a chore and most times, we end up consuming more.

Exercising and other physical activities burn calories, and the more you burn, the more weight you will lose - in a healthy way that is. Weight gain, among other factors, is often associated with consuming more calories than what the body needs as these leads to excess fat.

02. Muscle Mass

Muscles are important as they enable us to do what we do and need to do. Muscles are more dense compared to fat so they take up less space in the body.

As much as we at times are focused on building them, the unavoidable truth is that we lose muscle mass as we age. Hence the reason why we seemingly tend to gain more fat as we get older.

03. Genetics

Genes play a significant role in shaping how we are. If there is a history of obesity in the family, the higher the likelihood of a person becoming obese.

The “annoying” bit about belly fat is that it can happen without any weight gain. This comes down to a decrease in oxygen level, which can have an influence in where body fat is distributed.

For women, genetics also play a part often resulting in the pear-shape physical appearance.

04. Unhealthy diet

Indulging in food items high in sugar and also trans fat, and excessive alcohol intake are just some less-than desirable habits that are detrimental and can lead to excess amounts of belly fat.

Additionally, insufficient protein intake is also a factor in the formation of belly fat. Adequate protein can increase metabolism, is filling and helps to reduce caloric intake.

05. Sedentary lifestyle

A little bit of exercise and physical activity goes along into a healthier well-being. Unfortunately, we tend not to realise it or make time for it due to several reasons.

You need to burn calories and engaging in exercise, for example, is a good way to burn more and lose weight. Additionally, it also helps in preventing the storage of excess fat.

06. Cortisol

The stress hormone, cortisol and too much of it, can lead to weight gain. Stress eating is an example. This overconsumption results in excess fat, which is often stored in the abdominal region.

07. Lack of adequate sleep

Stress often leads to the lack of adequate rest. Sleep is important and lack of it can lead to weight gain. A study was done on 70,000 women over a period of 16 years. The results indicated that those who slept fewer than five hours per night were 32% more likely to gain extra weight.

08. Menopause And Belly Fat

Women gaining weight during menopause is a common occurrence. During puberty, a woman's body gets ready for pregnancy. Estrogen sends signals to the body to store fat in the subcutaneous fat zone on the hips and thighs. Menopause occurs a year after a woman's last menstrual cycle. This is the start of the estrogen level reduction where fat will be stored around the stomach more than the thighs and hips.

The amount of belly fat a woman gains during menopause is dependent on factors such as genetics and also, at what age the menopause set in. Those who complete menopause at a younger age tend to gain a lesser amount of abdominal fat.

09. The Gut Bacteria Factor

Our body contains bacteria and lots of it. Some benefit us while others cause issues. Gut health is not a common thought of after thought even, for most of us but it is important to understand that an imbalance can result in weight gain, and excess belly fat. Eating the right food promotes a healthy gut. Food with high fiber content helps in stabilising hunger, preventing one from overeating. Those low in fiber and a diet in refined carbs do the opposite.

10. Postpartum

Eating for two is not true. In your third trimester, it is recommended that you consume 200 extra calories on top of the 2000 daily calories for women. Excess calories will reflect on your body - with prominent fat gain on the abdomen, arms and thighs.

What Can Be Done?

If you have a bulging stomach, what you see in the mirror is subcutaneous fat. If you can pinch them, chances are they are subcutaneous fat. While they are generally harmless, they can be an eyesore and can cause a dip in the confidence level.

Another form of fat is known as visceral fat. These can pose serious health issues as they surround the vital organs. Visceral fat appears in the abdominal cavity and can’t be seen or felt from the outside. The body has both types of fat and addressing an issue like belly fat is more than just what meets the eye. An interesting point to note is that men tend to store more visceral fat.

Among the health issues that visceral fat can lead to includes heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol level. It also makes a person susceptible to a host of other medical issues. Detrimentally, it can also lead to premature death regardless of any weight issues.

One of the first recommended first-step is to adjust your diet and lifestyle. Reducing one’s calorie intake does help but ensure to not do it drastically, as the body needs them for energy. Still, cut back or cut down on the trans fat and other high sugar content items. This also includes reducing one’s alcohol consumption.

Take up and engage in physical activities. They do not have to be intense; start with brisk walking and gradually find others that require more effort like shadow-boxing, running and so on. Don’t forget to have some quiet, relaxed time to ease any stress. Meditation and yoga practises do help, both mentally and physically.

Although a bulging stomach is unsightly, there are positive changes to your lifestyle that you can make but they have to be done. Nipping an issue in the bud goes a long way into preventing it from declining into something worse.

Visceral fat can only be reduced with a nutritious diet, healthy lifestyle and regular cardio workout. Subcutaneous fat can be removed with the aforementioned and also surgical intervention.

If all else fails, there’s VASER Lipo

Candidates who are looking at liposuction treatments in Singapore, such as VASER Lipo to eliminate belly fat need to know that not everybody is a suitable candidate. Suitability is dependent on the amount of excess fat present and also, your overall physical well-being and state.

Unlike conventional liposuction technique which removes fat through avulsion, VASER Lipo is an ultrasonic-assisted modern form of liposuction. This method will not disturb its surrounding area, therefore causing lesser blood loss, as VASER Lipo can remove fat cells permanently from the targeted treated area accurately.

VASER Lipo can also target areas better. Dr Ivan Puah, your capable and experienced liposuction doctor in Singapore, is able to carve a smoother and shapelier silhouette. He has undergone training in body sculpting and VASER® advanced body sculpting in the USA, and is accredited by the Ministry Of Health Singapore to perform liposuction.

With more than 15 years of clinical experience in VASER Lipo surgery, Dr. Ivan Puah has designed his unique body sculpting approach, called MDC-Sculpt® Lipo technique. This unique liposuction technique removes the melted fat while sculpting the body. With his MDC-Sculpt® Lipo technique, it allows thorough fat removal on the area, which will constitute a more desirable cosmetic outcome as the scarring is reduced to the bare minimum.

During the VASER Lipo procedure, collagen production will be stimulated causing the skin to retract and take on its new body shape. No sagging or loose skin will occur. Instead, your treated area will have a smooth contouring.

Not only will your body shape look better but there is also minimal downtime involved. You may proceed with your daily routine shortly after your VASER Lipo treatment, if you faithfully follow the detailed post-treatment care provided. Your result will continue to look better between 3 to 6 months. Adopt an active and healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and nutritious diet after your VASER lipo treatment to maintain your new physique. Liposuction is certainly not a means of weight loss.

Difference Between Weight Loss And Fat Loss

It is important not to confuse yourself with the difference between weight and fat loss. Those who are struggling with their weight loss results often are struggling with stubborn fat, because to lose weight, you must shed the fat.

That being said, there are those who do not wish to reduce their numbers on their weighing scale. They are concerned about localised fat such as on their outer or inner thighs or their stomach. This group of people, usually those who are getting married who want to look their best on their wedding day or those with postpartum big stomach, are aiming to for Fat Loss.

Weight Loss is about losing weight overall and can usually be achieved through a combination of consuming lesser calories and exercising more. It is crucial to note that if you switch to a healthier diet but are eating the same number of calories, while you will feel better, your weight will more or less remain the same.

Diet pills and and adopting some fad Hollywood diet trends will not allow you to lose weight healthily! Beware of the negative and, most importantly, dangerous side effects of shortcut weight loss solutions. Besides calories intake, there are also other factors that causes weight gain such as hormonal imbalance, consuming foods that result in insulin and leptin resistance, chronic stress, food intolerance, or even lack of sleep!

To undergo a healthy weight loss journey, always consult a doctor who will be able to tailor a safe plan for you that will be efficient and reel effective results.

Dr. Ivan Puah, the medical director of Amaris B. Clinic advises, "Treatment for weight loss and targeted fat loss are very different. When you lose weight, you will lose both fat and muscles simultaneously. At the same time, the rate at which different parts of your body burns through fat is different as well. For example, one may lose more fat from unexpected areas such as the breasts rather than from 'stubborn' areas like the hips when one starts to lose weight."

If you have specific problem areas such as a big belly in women, weight loss alone may not be the right option. Dr. Ivan Puah explains, "On the other hand, targeted fat loss treatment may improve one's body shape, but may not have a significant impact on one's body weight.

It is very important for me to understand the concerns of each patient so that I can advise them on the types of treatment required to help them achieve the desired results.

What treatment plan we choose will depend on whether the patient wishes to lose weight or hopes to improve their body size or shape.

Other factors include the amount of localised fat the patient has that he or she hopes to lose, the amount of downtime the patient can or cannot afford to have, the physical health of the patient and the types of treatment options that match the patient's expectations."  

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