What causes belly fat in males vs. females

what causes belly fat in males vs females

One of my clients asked me the other day, “what causes belly fat in males?” I gave a few answers, such as eating habits, lifestyle, and body type. 

Funnily enough, the following day, a female client asked me, “what causes belly fat in females?” I typically answered with eating habits, lifestyle, and body type.

Then it made me think. Are there differences between men and women in how we gain stomach fat?

So I visited the biggest library in the world, the internet, and I Googled.

The lifestyle of men that creates fat belly

As I dug deeper into what causes belly fat in males, I found out an array of reasons.

The following are common causes of belly fat in men

  • Lifestyle
  • Aging

Let’s discuss lifestyle. Lifestyle is the major contributing factor of fat belly in both males and females. However, an increase in belly fat due to the wrong choice of lifestyle is more prevalent in men.


Okay, perhaps there are some spunky women out there that can out beer a stud and probably calling BS as she read this whole article. However, it’s common for men to try and outdrink each other; some might even call it a sport. Perhaps, it’s an alpha male thing.

[source: Gender and alcohol consumption: patterns from the multinational GENACIS project.]

Beer contains a significant amount of carbs, in which males tend to drink more than 1 bottle. One can of beer approximately 356 grams with 4% alcohol contains about 154 calories.

[source: calories in beer]

My limit is 5 beers, I know, I’m a pansy. However, I have friends who can drink a whole case. That is 24 bottles of beer! 

If I was consuming 770 calories from 5 beers, imagine drinking 24 bottles. It is 4 times more, and it contains roughly about 3600 calories. 

If your daily calorie intake is 2500, which is the average for men, you are way over. Moreover, we are not even counting what you ate for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between.

When you do count what you ate, you better hit the pavement and the gym the next day—if you can.

Eating habits

Men tend to eat more than women, although my girlfriend may beg to differ. I know some women can eat a cow in one sitting, my girlfriend, and a close friend of hers can chow down.

However, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that men binge eat more than women.

Women pay attention to how they look, more so than men. Moreover, the culture seems to play a role in women being self-conscious about their weight.

[source: Gender differences in eating behavior and body weight regulation.]

Society doesn’t care

Not all men, but in general, men aren’t pressured by society to look a certain way. I experimented and asked this question to my friends and family.

“Should men look a certain way?” 

The majority said no. While some echoed, yes, men should look manly. Now, there are many ways you can interpret masculinity, and I’m not going to go on a tangent here.

In this fast-changing society, some women want to have a career, don’t want to stay home to babysit the kids, and these days more women want to have fun. Society still expects women to look a certain way—skinny. 

While men don’t care about the way they look, which could be detrimental to their health.


There are differences when it comes to aging between men and women. In both males and females, our hips and waist increase as we age. 

However, females gain more in the waist while males store fat in their bellies. Why do men store fat in their bellies? There is no accurate answer, and clearly, more research is needed. 

Let’s just say that men are created that way.

[source: Gender differences in fat metabolism.]

Moreover, as we age, we lose muscle mass. Hence it’s imperative to counteract muscle loss by incorporating strength training in our exercise regimen.

What causes belly fat in females?

woman feeling hot

We’ve already discussed how men gain more belly fat than women. However, females can still gain a significant amount of belly fat; albeit much lesser than men.

The differentiating factor that causes women to gain belly fat other than the usual choice of lifestyle is that women go through menopause.

Men do not go through menopause; they go through a mid-life crisis. 

The hormonal changes in women at the ripened age of 40 makes them gain more stomach fat.

[source: Understanding weight gain at menopause.]

Other causes of belly fat in both males and females

Other than these particulars, the following lifestyle can cause belly fat in both males and females:

  • Sleeping too much.
  • Stress at work.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Body type.

Sleeping too much

Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that the group that slept 6 to 8 hours a day had significantly less visceral fat (the harmful fat). Compared to the group that slept less than 6 hours a day.

[source: Change in sleep duration and visceral fat accumulation over 6 years in adults.]

Stress at work

Stress from work also contributes to belly fat in both men and women. When you stress, you release a significant amount of stress hormones causing your heart rate to rise. Which, in turn, could lead to constriction of the blood vessels in the gut and the skin.

These stress hormones can also increase your appetite for fatty food, leading to binge eating, eventually—obesity. 

[source: Stress and Obesity: Are There More Susceptible Individuals?]


Living a sedentary lifestyle will make you fat, that’s guaranteed. You see, your body is like your wallet. You keep putting money in there, but you don’t take them out, it will eventually get thicker.

It’s a great analogy when it comes to calories in and calories out and how it affects body weight.

So, if you work in an office, sitting on your bum all day staring at the screen, you are sedentary. If you think you are active because you offset your sitting time with a 75 minutes gym time, read this study.

In a publication by Front Public Health, a 7-hour sedentary time in the office will not be compensated by any activity such as an hour’s worth of workout. 

“Even though it has been suggested that performing 60–70 min of moderate physical activity per day could eliminate the deleterious impact of sitting time, it does not eliminate the increased risk associated with screen time.”

[source: Physical Activity, Inactivity, and Sedentary Behaviors: Definitions and Implications in Occupational Health]

Body type

The type of genes we received from our mother and father may predispose us to obesity. There are three body types, ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph. 

  • Ectomorphs are long and lean with little muscle mass. Ectos have low muscle mass because it’s hard for them to form muscles.
  • Endomorphs are plumper compared to Ectomorphs. Endos gain weight quickly, and they have a fair amount of muscle and fat.
  • Mesomorphs are the best of body types. Mesos gain weight and lose weight easily. They develop muscles quickly and eat whatever they want without gaining fat.

[source: Somatotype and constitutional psychology]

If you are not so lucky like me, you will get the mix of the bad two—Ectomorph and Endomorph. When you get this combination, you are an Ecto-endomorph. You gain fat easy, hard to build muscle, and hard to lose weight. Yay!

What can you do if you are unlucky enough to be an Ecto-endo? Work harder.


The following are different causes of belly fat between males and females:

  • The choice of lifestyle has a more significant impact on belly fat for males.
  • When women hit menopause, hormones predispose them to weight gain.

The following are other factors that predispose men and women to belly fat:

  • Sleeping too much.
  • Stress at work.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Body type.

There are two reasons why you should get rid of your belly fat. One is to look good naked, the other is to live, literally. 

The belly fat is the most dangerous type of fat you should focus on removing. There are two types of fat in your belly, and one of them is killing you. 

Find out which one in this article, your belly fat is killing you.

The following article is ways to prevent belly fat and a list of food you should avoid: