Stomach bulges can have many causes, including bloating or food intolerances.

Not all belly bulges are the result of excess fat or weight gain. Even if weight gain is the cause, there’s no quick fix or way to lose weight from one specific part of your body.

Taking in too many calories can cause weight gain, but a protruding or pronounced belly can also be the result of hormones, bloating, or other factors.

Read on to learn about the possible causes of belly bulge and what you can do about it.


Bloating is the feeling of pressure or swelling in the stomach. The most common causes are trapped gas or eating too much in a short time. The sensation of bloating can cause abdominal distention, which is a visible swelling or extension of your belly.

Distention happens when the sensation of being bloated triggers your brain to react by moving your diaphragm down and relaxing your abdominal wall muscles.

Along with gassiness and eating too much, other common causes of bloating include:

Adrenal stress fat

Stress is a natural response to a perceived threat. When you’re faced with a threat, a combination of nerve and hormonal signals tells your adrenal glands to release adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones.

Stress is usually short-lived, and your body returns to normal. When faced with ongoing stress, your body remains in this state. There is evidence that chronic stress increases abdominal fat and cravings for foods that cause abdominal obesity.

Post-pregnancy belly

Your body goes through a number of changes during pregnancy, and a growing belly is the most obvious one. Even though you lose about 13 pounds when you give birth, it’s likely that you gained more than that during your pregnancy.

Your belly bulge may also be the result of fluid retention or abdominal separation (diastasis recti).

Abdominal separation may occur during or after pregnancy. It happens when your growing uterus causes the two long muscles that run parallel in your abdomen to separate from each other.

Menopausal hormonal belly bulge

Weight gain is a common effect of menopause. The hormonal changes that contribute to weight gain actually begin during perimenopause, a few years before menopause.

Menopausal weight gain primarily affects the abdomen. Factors that contribute to belly fat at this stage of life include:

Beer belly

Though studies haven’t found a link between beer and belly girth, there are reasons why drinking beer might give you a big belly. The more you drink, the more calories you consume, which could contribute to weight gain.

Beer is made with hops, and hops contain phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that have similar effects to the female sex hormone estrogen. Though it hasn’t been proven, there is speculation that the phytoestrogens in beer change the way your body stores belly fat.

Food intolerance

Food intolerance, which is not to be confused with food allergy, is difficulty in digesting certain foods. It is also called food sensitivity. It’s become much more common in recent years and affects up to an estimated 20 percent of the world’s population.

Food intolerance can cause bloating after you eat certain foods. Along with the sensation of bloating and a distended abdomen, you might have other symptoms like gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

Dairy, gluten, and caffeine are common food intolerances.

Common weight gain

Though weight gain can be spread throughout your body, some people are more prone to gaining belly weight than others. Weight gain is usually the result of consuming more calories than you burn through regular bodily functions and physical activity.

Sleep deprivation and stress have also been linked to overeating and weight gain.

You can get rid of a belly bulge, but how you do it depends on the cause.

Diet and exercise

Increasing your activity level and eating healthier foods and fewer calories can help you lose overall weight.

It’s not possible to limit weight loss to a specific part of your body, but the following suggestions may help you make your belly smaller:

  • Eat more fiber to keep your bowels regular and lose weight.
  • Limit alcohol, which has been linked to abdominal obesity.
  • Avoid foods high in sugar, trans fats, and refined carbs, which can contribute to weight gain and bloating.
  • Drink lots of water to help keep your appetite in check and prevent constipation.
  • Lift weights and perform other resistance training, which has been shown to decrease belly fat.
  • Do aerobic exercise, which is one of the most effective exercises to get rid of visceral fat.
  • Do ab exercises that focus on your core, such as planks, bridges, and crunches.


Some medications may help with belly bulge, including:

Reduce stress

Finding ways to relieve stress can help you lose weight and improve your overall health.

You can try:

  • relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga
  • spending time with loved ones or a pet
  • listening to music
  • taking a walk or bike ride
  • doing something you enjoy
  • taking a hot bath

Get more sleep

Getting enough sleep can help you keep your weight down and manage stress. Aim for seven to eight hours per night whenever possible.

Some ways to get better sleep:

  • do something relaxing before bed
  • avoid screen time for an hour or two before bedtime
  • make your sleep environment as comfortable as possible
  • see a doctor if you often wake up tired or have trouble sleeping


Surgery may be used to correct abdominal separation caused by pregnancy or some other type of strain in the abdomen.

If you’re troubled by your belly bulge, a cosmetic procedure, such as a tummy tuck or liposuction, can reduce the amount of fat in your belly. Talk to a qualified cosmetic surgeon for advice on the right procedure for you.

You may be able to do something about the amount of fat on your body, but factors beyond your control determine how the fat is distributed.

Fat allocation is determined by:

  • age
  • sex
  • genetics
  • hormone levels

Whether your belly bulge is the result of too many burgers or beers, a medical condition, or your hormones, you have options. Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and medical and cosmetic treatments can all help you get rid of belly bulge, depending on the cause.