11 Things That Make You Gain Belly Fat

Sugary foods & beverages

A diet high in added sugars, especially from sugar-sweetened beverages, may increase belly fat. Most often, stick with water, unsweetened coffee/tea, and eating a diet rich in whole, minimally processed foods.


High alcohol consumption (greater than two drinks per day) is associated with weight gain and belly fat.

Trans fats

Artificial trans fats are strongly linked with poor heart health and may also lead to increased belly fat. Both the US and Canada have banned trans fats in commercial foods.

Sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity

A sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity are associated with a number of health risks, including weight gain and increased abdominal fat.

Low protein diet

High protein intake is associated with lower abdominal fat and moderate body weight.


Natural hormonal changes during menopause result in a shift in fat storage from the hips and thighs to fat stored around the abdomen.

wrong gut bacteria

Changes in bacteria diversity in the gut may be associated with higher weight and visceral fat.

Stress and cortisol

The hormone cortisol, which is secreted in response to stress, may lead to increased abdominal fat when in excess. Practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors is a key component of managing chronic stress and keeping cortisol levels in check.

Low fiber diet

A diet that’s low in fiber and high in refined grains may increase risk for weight gain and higher levels of belly fat.


Though more research is needed, genetics may play a role in where we store fat in the body, including increased risk for abdominal fat accumulation.

Not enough sleep

Short sleep or low-quality sleep may lead to weight gain, including belly fat accumulation.

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