Health Reasons for a Potbelly

Some of the most annoying things about getting older are the changes our bodies undergo, like the increase around our midsection known as a potbelly or beer belly. This is particularly common amongst older men but is not limited to them. Apart from the discomfort it causes, it also has serious health implications. Abdominal fat has a negative impact on our bodies and make us susceptible to further health risks. So, it is important to guard against developing one and, if you already have a potbelly, take serious measures towards reducing it. Combatting a potbelly will require a good understanding of the possible causes of it - as there are many. Knowing what is behind yours will help you understand how to tackle it. Here are some of the common reasons behind a potbelly.

Eating habits

Bad eating habits are the major cause of a potbelly. When a person consumes too many calories, the body stores the excess fat around the waistline, leading to belly fat. This is common among people who eat lots of bad calorie-heavy carbs like biscuits, cakes, white bread, and so on. So, if your daily routine doesn't allow you to burn as many calories as you take in, a beer belly is most likely going to be the result. Children generally don’t experience this as their daily activities involve running around and proper rest. But, as an adult, the older you get, the less of these carbs you should consume. Instead, invest more in unrefined carbs like fruits and legumes.


Studies have revealed that a potbelly may be a result of the body releasing stress hormones over a long period. In recent years, excess cortisol levels in the bloodstream have been associated with excess fat around the waistline. People often eat when they are stressed or angry. If your routine stresses you out, chances are you will respond to it by eating more than you usually do. Following this routine for a long time will result in a potbelly. This cause is even more risky as excess cortisol in the body is unhealthy and overeating tends to make the body unable to fight off the consequences easily. It is recommended that instead of engaging in stress eating, one should try a fun exercise routine or just get away from whatever is causing the stress. But the most effective treatment for stress is changing how the brain reacts to stressful situations.

Alcohol consumption

While there is still a need for further studies to identify a connection between alcohol consumption and wider waistlines in women, studies show that excessive alcohol consumption causes a potbelly in men. What most people aren't aware of is that alcoholic drinks contain a huge amount of carbs. The density is so significant that continuous intake results in excess fat around the waist. Alcohol is twice as caloric as carbohydrates. Also, alcohol often leads to a higher intake of food. It is common knowledge that we consume more food when we have had alcohol than when we haven't.

However, alcohol doesn't only directly cause a potbelly in men. What alcohol does is to mostly prevent your body from burning fat and turning it into energy. This is a process referred to as fat sparing. The body ideally needs time to digest fat, protein and carbohydrates. But, when alcohol is present in the body’s system, this process does not take place.


Genetics also explain a potbelly in some people, as there are those who are genetically disposed to gaining weight around the waistline. Genetics significantly contribute to the distribution of body fat. It determines where it goes. While some people tend to gain weight on their thighs, hips, buttocks, and lower legs, others accumulate fat on their waistline. This poses a problem for some people, since lifestyle changes won’t necessarily assist in fat reduction when the person is genetically inclined to carry weight on their waistline. In terms of fat storage, the human body is divided into two types - namely pear-shaped and apple-shaped. The former body type stores fat in the lower half of the body, while the latter stores fat in the midsection.

To determine which you are, you need to know your waist to hip ratio. This involves dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement. If the result is less than 0.80, as a woman, then you are pear-shaped. If it’s above that, then you are apple-shaped. This means that you need to always ensure you are burning fat as much as possible, since any unused fat will be stored on your waistline.


The terrible thing about potbellies is that there are no easy solutions to getting rid of them. It is all the more difficult as one gets older. Age reduces the speed of your metabolism. This means making some lifestyle adjustments that will prevent a potbelly’s occurrence in the first place. Determining if you are genetically predisposed to it will also help in guarding against it.

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