Monday , 30 January 2023


By Fidelia Asogwa

There are men nowadays that when you look at them you would feel like telling them to go for anti-natal checkup. This is because the size of their belly is so big that you could mistake them as pregnant women if not for their body structure.  What could be the cause of this protruded belly?

Many men are afflicted with a pot belly that is not only large, but uncommonly hard.  This hardness is due to an abundance of fat under the abdominal muscles, otherwise known as viscera fat.  Men are particularly vulnerable to viscera abdominal fat.  While this type of belly is unattractive in appearance, viscera fat is particularly unhealthy, raising your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

To avoid accumulation of viscera belly fat which is the direct cause of pot belly, it is important you are aware of the common causes:

  • Excess calories:  The most direct cause of viscera body fat accumulation in men is the over-consumption of calories.  While the types of food you consume do play a role in how you store body fat, total calories are the most important factor.
  • Inactivity: A sedentary life style is a frequent contributor to viscera belly fat.  Lack of exercise limits the amount of calories you burn, making it easier to gain weight.  A sedentary lifestyle also causes muscle problem, which further slows your metabolism. To stimulate your metabolism and burn fat, taking a daily walk of at least 30 minutes will help boost your metabolism and control belly fat.
  • Sugar intake:  Sugar intake, especially high fructose food, increases insulin production which can speed the accumulation of viscera belly fat.  A recent Princeton university study revealed that rats, when fed a diet high in fructose, they gained significantly more abdominal fat than rats fed an equivalent amount of ordinary table sugar.  Avoid sugar sweetened soft drinks and candy to limit excess accumulation in your body.
  • Abdominal musculature: In some cases, as with many strength athletes, over-development of the abdominal muscles can give the midsection a hard, protruding appearance. In many cases, this abdominal development often accompanies viscera fat accumulation from the high calorie meals. When you see a man with a pot belly, it is a sign that things are not going very well health-wise other than the misconception that pot belly shows one’s wealth.

Why do men develop pot belly?

Pot belly is caused by excess calorie.  These calories lead to accumulation of fat in the abdomen; hence the abdomen protrudes excessively leading to a pot belly.   The calories can be derived from many foods but mostly from high calorie foods such as fat and beer.

Pot bellies are prevalent in men because of how they store fat.  Men tend to store fat in the abdomen while women tend to accumulate fat in thighs and pelvic areas.  Therefore men develop unattractive pot bellies while women have attractive rear.

Reasons why men allow fat to accumulate and develop pot belly

There are several reasons that cause men to allow fat to accumulate in their abdomen which lead to pot belly. Some of these factors are social while others are eating habits and lifestyles.

  • Social status:  some cultures highly regard men with protruding bellies.  Western cultures detest pot bellies, but some less developed countries still cherish pot bellies.  They view these men as wealthy, comfortable, powerful and satisfied in life.  This encourages younger men to develop bellies to receive such praise and recognition in the society.
  • Age: Generally as men grow older, they develop pot bellies.  Although pot belly does not occur to all men with age, it is only common occurrence to men who reduced the level of activity and exercising with age.
  • Marital status:  Generally unmarried men are skinny compared to married men.  This is attributed to the fact that unmarried men, do not take time to cook and eat well.  Most bachelors survive on the minimum food possible.  After marriage, they have access to food and a lot of it.  This can propel excessive eating habits leading to development of pot bellies.
  • Beer:  There is a popular belief that pot bellies in men are caused by drinking beer.  This is why pot belly is referred to as   “beer belly”.  However, there are people who do not drink but develop pot belly.  At the same time, there are people who are daily drinkers yet are extremely skinny.  Therefore, we should not generalize beer as a bad evil that impregnates men.

The following are reasons why beer is blamed for pot bellies in men:

  • The first reason is that beer is high in calorie.  1 gram of alcohol contains approximately 7 calories.  This is the second higher number of calories compared to other macronutrients in food.  1 gram of fat contains 9 calories.  Calories in beer are referred to as empty calories.  This implies that most of these calories end up being converted into fat.
  • A 500ml beer contains approximately 170 calories. This means that consuming 5 beer bottles of 500ml gives a total of  850 calories.  These are only derived from beer.  When you add the calories from the other foods then you exceed the recommended calorie intake.
  • Beer consumption leads to hunger. This can cause a person to eat additionally unhealthy foods, which are also high in calories such as barbecue meat, sausages and other fatty foods.  Ironically, many beer drinkers say that fatty foods reduce the level of drunkenness.
  • Beer also leads to dropping of blood sugar level.  This leads to lethargy(extreme fatique).  Lethargy leads to reduced activity which implies that less calories are burned.  The burning of less calories increases the likelihood of accumulation of fat and hence pot belly.

How to get rid of pot belly in men

  • Choose a form of aerobic exercise that you enjoy and practice it on a regular basis.  Activities such as walking and jogging help to improve insulin resistance and reduce belly fat.
  • Increase your fibre and fluid intake to improve your elimination and keep your metabolism functioning properly.
  • Limit salt intake and avoid eating simple sugar and fats that contribute to excess fat gain in the abdominal area.
  • Drink less beer to reduce the accumulation of fat in the viscera or stomach.
  • Avoid eating dinner very late or before going to bed as this tends to deposit fats in the belly.
  • Exercise to lose weight
  • Swimming also helps in getting rid  of fats quickly
  • Eat  smaller meals a day to  increase metabolism
  • Avoid sugary and sweet foods as fats and sugar work together in increasing the body’s fat deposits.
  • Rehydrate yourself by increasing water consumption to loosen stomach fats.
  • Stress may also result in bulging stomach.  Find healthy ways to cope with stress in life.

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