Belly fat can be a source of discomfort for many, especially when it forms a “pooch belly”. You may not like how it protrudes over your jeans, or perhaps the way it jiggles when you walk.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts at dieting and exercise, that stubborn pooch refuses to budge.
And you’re on the verge of giving up on ever having a flat, toned tummy.
Losing the pooch isn’t just about vanity or fitting into that favorite pair of jeans; there are health implications tied to excess abdominal fat that should not be ignored. Increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer are just a few of the potential consequences.
In this article we will define what a pooch belly is, discuss its appearance, explore its causes, and suggest remedies.
What Is a Pooch Belly?
A pooch belly, also known as a “mommy pouch”, is an accumulation of excess fat in the abdominal area. It is often characterized by a bulge or protrusion of the lower stomach, typically below the belly button. This is in contrast to a flat and toned tummy.
Anyone can have it, regardless of age or gender, although it is more common in women who have been through pregnancy.
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What Causes a Pooch Belly?
A pooch belly may be caused by one or a combination of these factors; childbirth, genetics, poor posture, stress, hormonal issues, lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating habits.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through many changes to accommodate the growing baby.
One change is the expansion of the abdominal muscles to make room for the growing uterus, which can lead to a separation known as diastasis recti (15). This can result in a protruding tummy even after childbirth.
Genetics also play a role in where our bodies tend to store fat, with some people being more prone to carrying excess weight in their midsection (7).
Usually, there’s not much we can do to change our genetics, but that doesn’t mean we have no control over our body shape.
Slouching or hunching over can make your stomach appear larger than it is.
This is because bad posture puts unnecessary strain on the abdominal muscles, potentially causing them to weaken and protrude outwards (1).
Life can be stressful at times, and unfortunately, stress can contribute to weight gain and a pooch belly.
During periods of high stress, our bodies release cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone”, which has been linked to increased abdominal fat storage (16).
We don’t group stress under the hormonal causes of a pooch belly because it has a ripple effect on other areas that lead to weight gain, including unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise.
For example, when stressed, some people turn to food for comfort, often choosing unhealthy options high in sugar and fat. This can contribute to weight gain and a pooch belly.
Hormonal changes can also play a role in the development of a pooch belly.
Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid disorders can cause hormonal imbalances that make it difficult to lose weight, especially in the abdominal area (14).
In addition, as we age, our hormonal balance changes, making it easier for weight to accumulate in the midsection.
What Does a Hormonal Belly Look Like?
It’s difficult to categorize all hormonal bellies as they can vary in appearance.
Some may appear round and protruding, while others may look more like a muffin top.
However, one common characteristic is excess fat around the abdomen which does not seem to decrease with diet and exercise.
Lack of Exercise
A sedentary lifestyle, involving long periods of sitting is one of the main culprits behind excess belly fat.
Inadequate physical activity or regular exercise can be associated with higher body fat levels and abdominal fat, (17).
If you’re genetically predisposed to carrying weight in your midsection, lack of exercise can make it more challenging to lose the pooch.
Unhealthy Eating Habits
Poor diet choices and overeating are significant contributors to a pooch belly (6).
Consuming too many calories, unhealthy foods, or ultra-processed foods (high in added sugars and sodium, unhealthy fats, and excess energy) or having unhealthy eating habits can lead to weight gain.
Research has also shown that a diet high in sugar and unhealthy fats can contribute to abdominal fat storage (18).
Will Lower Belly Pooch Go Away?
Yes, all body fat can eventually be lost with the right lifestyle changes and in some cases, with medical intervention.
Pooch belly isn’t any different, stubborn as it may be, you can lose it.
The key is understanding the underlying causes and making changes accordingly.
How Long Does It Take for a Belly Pooch To Go Away?
You’ll likely need 2-3 months to see a significant change in your belly pooch. it’s possible to permanently change your belly shape in a few months or so, but it all depends on the following:
How Consistent Are You?
Whether you’re eating less, exercising more, or doing both – you’ll only make significant progress if you’re consistent.
How Much Weight Do You Need To Lose?
The amount of weight you need to lose will determine how long it takes for your belly pooch to go away. A safe and sustainable rate is 1-2 pounds per week (13).
That said, if you’re looking to lose 10 pounds, it may take anywhere from 5-10 weeks to see a difference in your belly.
What Is Your Current Diet Like?
Making small changes to an unhealthy diet can have a significant impact on weight loss.
However, if your current diet is already healthy and balanced, you may need to make more significant changes to see results.
Check out our guide on the Best Way to Lose Postpartum Belly Fat, where we explore fasting as one of the best options for new moms.
Do You Have Underlying Health Conditions?
Certain health conditions can make it more challenging to lose weight and a pooch belly. If this is the case, it’s essential to seek medical advice and support.
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Natural Pooch Belly Remedies
Knowing how to get rid of the pooch belly the natural way is essential for long-term results. Here are some proven remedies that can help:
Exercise for Pooch Belly
Regular exercise is crucial for losing weight and toning your midsection.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise, five days a week.
Exercises that target the abdominal muscles, such as crunches, planks, and bicycle kicks, can help strengthen and tone the area (4).
Cardiovascular exercises like running, cycling, and swimming can also help burn calories and reduce overall body fat (21).
For a more targeted workout plan to lose a pooch belly, consult a certified personal trainer.
Healthy Eating Habits for Pooch Belly
Avoiding processed and sugary foods, as well as excessive alcohol consumption, can also aid in weight loss.
Meal prepping and planning ahead can help you make healthier food choices throughout the week.
Finding ways to manage and reduce stress levels can be beneficial for losing a pooch belly (11).
Incorporating activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises into your daily routine can help reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation (11).
Additionally, finding healthy coping mechanisms for stress, such as talking to a therapist or going for a walk, might prevent you from turning to food for comfort.
Sleeping For A Healthy Pooch Belly
Getting enough high-quality sleep is essential for overall health and weight loss (19).
Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
In some cases, medical interventions may be necessary to lose a pooch belly.
Hormonal imbalances can be treated with medication or hormone therapy, while cosmetic procedures like liposuction or tummy tucks can remove excess fat and skin (20).
However, these options should always be discussed with a doctor and used as last resorts after trying natural remedies.
We cover these remedies in detail on our blog: How to Get Rid of Mommy Pooch
Mommy Pooch Before and After: What to Expect
Before you see changes on the scale, you may notice physical changes in your belly appearance.
Here are some non-scale victories to look out for:
- Your pants fit better, and you can button them without discomfort.
- Your shirts don’t ride up or cling to your midsection as much.
- Your belly feels firmer and less jiggly.
- You feel more energetic, and your mood has improved.
- You’re better able to manage cravings, and your appetite has decreased.
- When you look in the mirror, you can see a noticeable difference in your abdominal area.
What Are The 5 Foods That Burn Belly Fat?
Five foods that have been shown to aid in belly fat loss are green tea, spices like ginger and turmeric, avocados, probiotic yogurt, and fatty fish like salmon.
- Green tea – contains catechins that can slightly increase metabolism, potentially helping contribute to weight loss (9).
- Ginger – beneficial compounds in ginger such as anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce belly fat (3).
- Probiotic Yogurt – can help improve gut health, which has been linked to weight loss (7).
- Avocados – rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and bioactive components. Regular consumption of avocado has been linked to lower levels of excess fat. (2).
Fatty Fish – a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and support weight loss outcomes (5).
How Long Does It Take To Lose Lower Belly Pooch?
It can take 2-3 months to start seeing a significant change in your lower belly pooch, but it can take longer depending on various factors such as consistency, weight loss goals, and overall diet and lifestyle.
Why Am I Skinny But Have a Big Stomach?
Having a big stomach, or belly pooch, can be caused by several factors, including genetics, hormonal imbalances, and lifestyle habits like poor diet or lack of exercise.
How To Lose Belly Fat in 7 Days?
It is not realistic or healthy to expect to lose a significant amount of belly fat in just 7 days.
Rapid weight loss can often lead to muscle loss and other negative side effects.
Instead, focus on making sustainable lifestyle changes like incorporating exercise and eating a balanced diet to see long-term results.
The Bottom Line
A pooch belly may be stubborn and difficult to get rid of, but with proper understanding and lifestyle changes, it is possible.
By addressing underlying factors such as hormonal imbalances, lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating habits, and incorporating natural remedies like exercise, healthy eating, and stress management techniques, you can achieve a flatter and healthier midsection.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 3 surprising risks of poor posture (223,harvard.edu)
- Avocado Intake, and Longitudinal Weight and Body Mass Index Changes in an Adult Cohort (2019,nih.gov)
- Combination of the effect of ginger and anti‐inflammatory diet on children with obesity with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A randomized clinical trial (2023,nih.gov)
- Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core muscles (2022,mayoclinic.org)
- Dietary fish as a major component of a weight-loss diet: effect on serum lipids, glucose, and insulin metabolism in overweight hypertensive subjects (1999,sciencedirect.com)
- Eating control and eating behavior modification to reduce abdominal obesity: a 12-month randomized controlled trial (2021,nih.gov)
- Effects of Probiotics and Synbiotics on Weight Loss in Subjects with Overweight or Obesity: A Systematic Review (2021,nih.gov)
- Genes and obesity (2013,cdc.gov)
- Green tea for weight loss and weight maintenance in overweight or obese adults (2012,nih.gov)
- Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight (2023,cdc.gov)
- Impact of a stress management program on weight loss, mental health and lifestyle in adults with obesity: a randomized controlled trial (2018,nih.gov)
- Intermittent fasting and weight loss (2020,nih.gov)
- Losing Weight (2023,cdc.gov)
- Obesity and hormones (2016,betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- Physiological changes in pregnancy (2016,nih.gov)
- Stress and abdominal Fat: Preliminary Evidence of Moderation by the Cortisol awakening Response in Hispanic Peripubertal Girls (2011,nih.gov)
- Sedentary Behavior, Physical Activity, and Abdominal Adipose Tissue Deposition (2018,nih.gov)
- The Dose Makes the Poison: Sugar and Obesity in the United States – a Review (2020,nih.gov)
- Weight Loss and Sleep (2022,sleepfoundation.org)
- What to know about hormonal imbalances (2021,medicalnewstoday.com)
- What’s the best exercise to lose belly fat? (2023,bhf.org.uk)