Hormonal Belly Fat: Why its Hard to Lose 

Are you trying to lose belly fat? But, find yourself not making much progress?  Well, there may be reasons that make your goal, of losing belly fat, difficult to achieve. One such reason is that you may have a hormonal belly fat. This post provides insight into how your hormones may be making your goal of losing belly fat a challenge.


So, what exactly are hormones? Well, hormones are chemical messengers. In fact, they travel in your bloodstream to your organs and tissues. However, they work slowly over time to affect processes like:

  • Growth and development
  • Metabolism – which is how the body gets energy from food
  • Sexual functions
  • Reproduction
  • Mood

Now, while some fatty tissue in the body simply lies dormant, belly fat is an “active” fat. In fact, belly fat releases hormones that impact your health.  For instance, belly fat releases a hormone called Leptin. And Leptin targets nerve cells in the brain, specifically the hypothalamus, to trigger a feeling of fullness.  By the way, studies show that Leptin levels in the body correlate to the amount of fat stored in the body. As a result, belly fat is hard to lose, especially for someone over 40. Indeed, your hormones and belly fat affect each other.

Incidentally, everyone has hormones. However, if your hormones are out of balance, they could lead to excess stomach fat, which in this case is known as hormonal belly fat.

Adrenal Glands

Adrenal glands produce hormones that help the body regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress, as well as other essential functions. However, poorly functioning or overworked adrenal glands can cause fatigue, poor stress response, and poor mood regulation.

Specifically, any kind of stress causes the hypothalamus to produce corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). Which, in turn, stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH). ACTH then stimulates the adrenal glands to make and release cortisol hormones into the blood.

Regrettably, cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugar (glucose) levels in the bloodstream. However, if you have high blood sugar there is a good chance that you have a hard time removing the fat around the waist, also known as, hormonal belly fat.


Meanwhile some of us are genetically inclined to have more belly fat. So, no matter how hard you try, nothing seems to help reduce belly fat.

Now, everyone has two types of fat cells. One type of fat cell is known as alpha and the other type is known as beta. However, these fat cells react differently to lipolysis.  For example, alpha fat cells respond better and accelerate the process to lose fat. On the other hand, beta fat cells don’t respond as well, thereby making it harder to lose fat.

Furthermore, different parts of the body have different amounts of alpha and beta fat cells. So, some parts of the body have larger amounts of alpha fat cells than the beta fat cells. While other parts of the body have larger amounts of beta fat cells than alpha fat cells. Consequently, areas of the body with more beta fat cells have difficulty shedding excess fat.

So, when you are trying to lose fat, you may see the results easily in your legs, face, and arms because these areas of your body have more alpha fat cells. Meanwhile, your hips, thighs, and belly with more beta fat cells, have a harder time losing excess fat.

Body Shape

Studies suggest that your genes may determine up to 80 percent of your weight and body shape. There are, in general, five main body type shapes: rectangle, inverted triangle, hourglass, apple, and pear.

If you tend to pack the pounds around your middle rather than your hips and thighs, then you have an apple shaped body. People who are 'apple-shaped' carry more weight around their vital organs than those with pear-shaped body. On the other hand, people with pear-shaped body carry weight around their hips and thighs. And this genetic predisposition means ridding yourself of belly fat is harder for people with apple-shaped body.

By the way, a study conducted at North Carolina State University in 2005 showed a little more than 20 percent of women had a pear-shaped body, while 14% had an apple-shaped body.

Incidentally, previous observational studies showed a correlation between having an apple-shaped body and a higher risk of heart problems.

In addition, numerous research studies have found that greater fat distribution around the midsection — an apple-shaped body type — may be linked with a higher risk of chronic disease and poor health outcomes.

Metabolic Rate

In general, women have a lower metabolic rate than men. As a result, women use fewer calories to fuel normal body functions, and store the leftover calories as fat.

So, if you have a slow metabolism and want to lose belly fat, the first priority is cut back on calorie consumption.

Here are some common signs of a slow metabolism:

  • You may feel exhausted all the time even after a good night's sleep.
  • You may get continuous headaches.
  • Weight gain.

Slow metabolism burns fewer calories, which means more get stored as fat in the body. This is one reason why some people have difficulty losing weight. On the other hand, a fast metabolism burns calories at a quicker rate, which explains why some people can eat a lot and not gain extra pounds.

How to Know You have Hormonal Belly Fat

  • Women in menopause, with low estrogen hormone levels are susceptible to obesity.
  • For men, if your testosterone hormone levels go up, leptin levels fall. Now leptin targets the hypothalamus to trigger a feeling of fullness. So, when leptin levels fall it makes you feel you are not full and so you end up eating more. Which can lead to obesity.
  • If you are constantly under stress, your cortisol levels stay high for extended periods of time. But, these high levels mean high blood sugar levels, which over time leads to belly fat.
  • If you aren’t getting enough sleep for long periods of time, your cortisol levels stay high. Also, this lack of sleep has a negative impact on leptin (which tells your brain to stop eating) and ghrelin (which increases your appetite). Consequently, you are likely to get obese.
  • Finally, you are constantly craving for sugar. This may be because you have developed leptin resistance, where your brain ignores  “belly full” messages being sent by leptin. Which also leads to belly fat.