Why Do I Only Gain Weight in My Stomach and Back?

Medically Reviewed on 3/3/2022
Why Do I Only Have Fat on My Stomach?
Weight gain around your stomach and back may be the result of certain lifestyle decisions, as well as the following other causes.

Weight gain in your midsection that is around the stomach and back may be the result of certain lifestyle decisions.

  • Sometimes, you may see that fat accumulation is just around the midsection even if your legs are skinny.
  • The two S's, stress and sugar, have an effect on the size of your abdomen. 
  • Abdominal weight gain can be caused by various medical disorders and hormonal changes.

Some of the causes may include alcohol usage or drugs, while other causes include:

Many of the reasons for stomach bloating and weight gain are treatable with lifestyle modifications and medications.

What can weight gain be a sign of?

Sudden weight gain can be an indication of an underlying health ailment, such as thyroid, renal, or heart disease. Sudden weight gain primarily results due to fluid retention in the body.

Anyone who has a sudden, unexplained weight increase should consult a doctor to establish the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.

Symptoms that may arise in combination with weight gain include:

What is abdominal fat?

The deposit of fat that results in enlarged waist size is referred to as abdominal fat.

Excessive abdominal fat has been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Fat accumulates around the stomach in two forms:

  1. Visceral fat:
    • Visceral fat is accumulated around the organs such as the stomach, intestine, and liver.
    • Visceral fat is more strongly associated with elevated metabolic risk factors, insulin resistance, inflammation, and overall mortality.
  2. Subcutaneous fat:
    • Subcutaneous fat is accumulated beneath the skin.
    • Subcutaneous fat accumulates slowly and might be difficult to eliminate.
    • Doctors usually do not believe subcutaneous fat to be as harmful to your health as deeper abdominal fat.
    • Subcutaneous fat acts as a layer of protection for your organs and insulation to help you control your body temperature.
    • However, it can be an issue if you gain too much weight.


Weight loss occurs in the belly before anywhere else. See Answer

15 causes of weight gain around the stomach and back

There are various reasons starting from consumption of a high-calorie diet and unhealthy foods and various medical conditions that alter the way your body stores fat.

Here are 15 causes of weight gain around the stomach and back:

  1. Sugary and sweetened foods: There is no denying that sweet and sugary foods make you happy at any time, but regular consumption has been connected to weight gain, obesity, and various other health-related disorders. A recent study suggests that eating too much sugar may result in greater fat deposits around the heart and abdomen, putting our health in danger. When you eat an excessive amount of sugar, it is turned into fat and stored in the tissues. This fat can cause metabolic derangements including chronic inflammation that can damage your health. An observational study that looked at both sweetened beverages and sugar added to different food items discovered that a higher intake of both sweetened beverages and added sugar had a strong association with greater fat deposition around organs.
  2. Trans fat: Trans fat makes you fatter than other foods with the same calorie count, but that is not all. Wake Forest University researchers discovered that trans fat increases the amount of fat around the abdomen. Trans fat not only creates new fat but also transfers fat from other places to the abdomen. Even when total dietary calories are regulated, trans-fat-rich diets produce a redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen and result in higher body weight. Consumption of trans fat causes weight gain and increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease considerably. Trans fat can be found in vegetable shortenings, some types of margarine, and processed baked products including cookies, fries, and many snack foods.
  3. Alcohol: Alcohol is high in sugars, and the caloric content differs for different types of alcoholic beverages. Calories in alcohol are considered empty calories because they do not have any nutritional value. Alcohol use reduces the amount of fat our bodies burn for energy. Although you can store minerals, protein, carbs, and fat in your body, you cannot store alcohol. Therefore, your systems want to get rid of it as soon as possible. A pint of lager can contain the same number of calories as in a slice of a pizza, and calories in a glass of wine are the same as those in an ice-cream sundae. You may noticeably reduce weight by reducing the amount of alcohol intake. This is the easiest way to shed off excess weight from your body.
  4. Low-protein diet: Proteins are more satiating than fats or carbohydrates, so they may keep you fuller for longer periods. Proteins help control your appetite and lower the total number of calories you consume, which helps you maintain a lean body mass. A study was conducted on a small group of people including both men and women, who all ate the same number of calories per day but had different amounts of protein. The study reported that people who ate fewer proteins have gained more weight than those who ate more protein.
  5. Low-fiber diet: Fiber influences how satiated we feel after eating a meal. Fiber, unlike other carbs, lipids, and protein, is not broken down and used in your systems. Although fiber can minimize weight gain by keeping you feeling full after a meal and stabilizing your blood sugar levels, it also means the opposite is true. If you don't get enough fiber in your diet, you tend to eat more because you will not be as satisfied, which will surely lead to weight gain.
  6. Changes in gut flora: Your intestine contains various varieties of microorganisms, also known as gut flora, that help with digestion and absorption of nutrients. If the concentrations of Firmicutes bacteria increase in the gut, they increase the absorption of more calories into the body, leading to weight gain, especially around the abdomen. Weight gain can be caused by an imbalance in intestinal health, which is caused by a lack of good bacteria that maintain good intestinal health. Specifically, you are at a high risk of accumulating more abdominal fat. If your gut flora is out of balance, you are more likely to acquire diseases such as heart disease and type II diabetes.
  7. Stress: Cortisol is a stress hormone. It influences fat distribution by causing fat to be stored centrally or around organs. However, cortisol exposure can increase visceral fat (fat around the organs). People with disorders associated with high cortisol levels, such as severe recurrent depression and Cushing's disease, have an excess of visceral fat. Nonobese women who are prone to stress are more likely to have excess abdomen fat and higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A study reported that women with more abdomen fat had more negative moods and higher levels of stress.
  8. Improper sleeping habits: For years, scientists have known that sleep deprivation makes you exhausted, grumpy, and less able to think well. It can make you fat because it increases hunger hormone levels and reduces fullness or satiety hormone levels, which can contribute to overeating and weight gain. According to the latest research, not getting enough sleep impairs your fat cells' capacity to respond correctly to the hormone insulin, which is essential for controlling energy storage and usage. According to researchers, the disruption could contribute to weight gain, type II diabetes, and other health concerns over time.
  9. Sedentary lifestyle: With advancements in technology, the lifestyle has changed from being active to sedentary. Most of the activities done nowadays require you to sit in one place for hours. The more time you spend sitting, the higher the risk to your health. You are more likely to have abdominal fat than someone active all day.
  10. Genetics: Research shows that genes play a role in abdominal fat accumulation. Various studies have concluded that increased abdominal fat in nonobese individuals is related to hereditary causes. You may inherit genes that contribute to abnormal distribution and storage of fat in the body. This leads to various metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, and all these may run in the family.
  11. Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid releases very little thyroid hormone that regulates your metabolism. When you do not produce enough thyroid hormone, you do not burn as much energy overall. When your resting metabolism slows down, the number of calories you burn throughout the day drops. An underactive thyroid gland may lead to fatigue, dry skin, and thinning of hair.
  12. Mood disorders: Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety play an important role in weight gain. To deal with these uncomfortable sensations, you mindlessly eat more, causing you to gain weight. Both depression and anxiety can cause fatigue, irritation, and lack of attention. Because of these three effects on your body, you tend to skip the gym or reduce physical activity and incorporate a sedentary lifestyle. This causes you to gain weight.
  13. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a hormonal cause of weight gain in women. PCOS causes an imbalance of certain hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. This condition, which affects 1 in every 10 women of childbearing age, interferes with the way the body uses insulin, the hormone responsible for converting carbs into energy. As the body becomes insulin-resistant, carbohydrates and starch consumed is stored as fat rather than converted into fuel. PCOS causes irregular periods, acne, and even the growth of facial hair. Although there is no definitive treatment of PCOS, lifestyle modifications and medications may help keep the hormones in check, and with changes in the imbalance of hormones, the symptoms reduce.
  14. Menopause: Attaining menopause can cause a woman to gain weight. During younger ages, the hormone estrogen signals the body to store fat in the thighs and hips to support pregnancy. Accumulation of subcutaneous fat in these regions is usually considered healthy. As a woman attains menopause, the levels of the hormone estrogen reduce. As a result, fat is stored around the abdomen rather than the hips and thighs.
  15. Medications: Medications used to treat high blood pressure can induce weight gain. Insulin used to maintain proper sugar levels in people with diabetes can cause weight gain. Staying active and following a healthy diet plan can help you take insulin without gaining weight. Psychiatric drugs, particularly those used to treat depression and bipolar disorder, frequently cause weight gain. Although they are meant to alleviate depression, they unwittingly enhance your desire to eat.

How to reduce unwanted fat in the stomach and back

The following are effective ways to reduce excess fat around the stomach and back:

  • To reduce weight, you must follow healthy diet rules that not only help you reduce fat in the body but also improve your overall health.
    • Reduce your intake of sweets and sugary drinks if you wish to reduce abdominal fat. Sugar has been found in numerous studies to be exceedingly damaging to metabolic health.
    • Increasing the number of protein-rich meals in your regular diet will significantly assist you to shed abdominal fat. Consuming enough protein reduces the desire to eat regularly.
    • Incorporating low-carbohydrate and low-fat items into your diet can assist you in losing abdominal fat.
    • To lose abdominal fat, fiber-rich meals must be included in the diet.
  • Reducing the consumption of alcohol helps with weight loss because unhealthy calories are avoided. Quitting alcohol helps you improve the health of vital organs such as the liver and improves overall health.
  • Try to reduce stressors in your life and keep yourself active all the time. Perform exercise or any other physical activity to burn some calories. Increased physical activity helps with imbalances in the hormones and reduces the symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance.
  • Getting adequate sleep fights stress and anxiety and keeps you active all day long.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 3/3/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Obesity: https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/resources/diseases/obesity/index.htm

5 Reasons Why You're Gaining Belly Fat: https://www.prevention.com/health/g20436960/5-reasons-why-youre-gaining-belly-fat/

Why Do I Only Gain Weight on My Stomach? https://healthyliving.azcentral.com/why-do-i-only-gain-weight-on-my-stomach-12199038.html