Gaining Belly Fat All of a Sudden in Men and Women

Gaining Belly Fat All of a Sudden

Gaining Belly Fat All of a Sudden is a matter of great concern for most of us. “All of a sudden” may be defined as in days and weeks.

Very rapid weight gain is rather unusual and may be associated with certain disease states as well. Identifying and treating these diseases could reverse weight gain.

Weight gain is always a topic of concern for most people. More frequently, weight gain is taken as a sign of an unhealthy lifestyle.

People who are generally fit do not need to gain any weight and some people who are lean and skinny try frequently to gain some pounds.

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So, if a person who is underweight gains weight suddenly then this might not be seen as an alarming situation.

However, people who are already seemingly healthy start gaining weight all of a sudden then this can be a sign of either an unhealthy lifestyle or some underlying disease.

No matter what is the cause of this weight gain, if it is unintentional then it surely needs to be assessed and treated immediately in order to prevent any extreme outcomes.

Genetic Obesity: No Matter How Hard You Try, You Have a Setpoint

Types of Fat

Weight gain is related to fat deposition and there are two main types of fats that you store in your body.

  • Visceral fat is the fat around your internal organs like the liver. Gaining this type of fat is extremely detrimental as this leads to several health disorders like cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver.
  • Subcutaneous fat is the fat right under your skin. This is less harmful as it provides insulation which is important for your internal organs. This layer also cushions said organs.

What is Visceral Fat (Omental Fat) & How to Get Rid of it?

Abnormal Dietary Habits as a cause of gaining belly fat all of a sudden:

Certain foods from your diet can be causing weight gain. Check the list below in order to minimize the intake of such food items.

Unhealthy Trans Fat:

Of all the fats trans-fat is the unhealthiest. This has been associated with several disorders. This fat is found in packaged, baked, and processed foods too often.

Your body has no need for trans fat as it gives no nutrition. Rather, it causes weight gain and cardiovascular disorders.

Research has shown that trans fat can induce weight gain. It can also cause allergies or exacerbate their symptoms. [Ref]

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Trans fat is predominantly found in junk foods and processed foods, the intake of which has substantially increased.

Such foods are high in sugar and are calorie-dense which promotes weight gain, metabolic syndromes, and obesity. [Ref]

It is crucial to minimize its intake as this could be leading to fat deposition.

Fiber deficit diet

As it is well known that fiber has a satiety effect which means that its consumption can make you feel full for a longer time.

This can reduce your cravings for extra food and sweets. Fiber intake can support weight management due to this effect.

A study was done on whole grain, refined grains, and their association with visceral adipose tissue and subcutaneous adipose tissue showed that a high intake of refined grains can increase visceral adipose tissue and a high intake of whole grains can decrease it. [Ref]

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Therefore, a high-fiber diet can help you prevent weight gain.

A Low Protein Diet

Protein is an essential macronutrient in our diet. A reason for this sudden weight gain can be the lack of good protein in your diet. As protein can also manage your hormones that can elevate appetite so a low protein diet can cause weight gain easily.

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Extra Sugar In Your Food

Sugar is commonly found in processed or canned foods. Sugar-sweetened beverages are now a typical drink for everyone and it is consumed on a daily basis.

Sugar-sweetened food items can cause a spike in your blood sugar level which does not last long and makes you crave more food.

A common ingredient found in such beverages is high fructose corn syrup. Research has proved that high fructose corn syrup can be leading to the obesity epidemic and adipose tissue cannot cope up with its excess intake. [Ref]

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Eating junk food that is already high in empty calories, coupled with drinking such beverages can give you the one-way ticket to central obesity.

Lifestyle Factors as a Cause of Gaining Belly Fat all of a Sudden:

Physical Inactivity:

No matter how your diet is, if you are not focusing on being active then you are not losing those calories which will eventually cause fat deposition. People who are physically active can burn such pounds easily and face no trouble.

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A main reason for the sudden weight gain can be the state of your physical activity, if your calorie consumption is greater than your physical activity then no doubt you are gaining weight.

These calories will be stored as fat inside your adipocytes and require exercise to burn off.

Stress And Cortisol

Cortisol hormone is a stress hormone that is crucial for our existence. This hormone is released when the body goes under any sort of stress.

In today’s hectic world, most people face stress daily. This can be from extreme work overload or some other personal issues. Due to stress, cortisol is released.

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According to research, stress can lead to abdominal weight gain and other mental disorders. It offers a major role in the development of obesity. [Ref]

Chronic stress can trigger your cravings for sugar-sweetened products and other junk foods. Such items are calorie-dense and lead to an over intake of calories.

Apart from foods items, it affects other factors like sleep schedule and physical activity as well. It can disturb your circadian rhythm and make you feel lethargic which leads to little or no activity.

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Probably the one factor that can be causing weight gain is your genetics. If obesity or being overweight runs through your family then you are bound to gain extra pounds.

Your genes can decide where to store the extra fat and it can be your abdomen where the fat is going to be stored.

Genetic Obesity: No Matter How Hard You Try, You Have a Setpoint

Diseases associated with Rapid Weight Gain:

Rapid weight gain is often due to an underlying medical condition. Women may notice abrupt weight gain during pregnancy which is very normal and rather desired for the good health of the baby.

Rapid weight gain due to fluid retention:

  • Very rapid weight gain that occurs within hours to days is usually due to fluid retention in the body than fat deposition.
  • Fluid retention resulting in rapid weight gain may be due to kidney disease, liver disease, or heart failure.
  • Occasionally, excessive intravenous fluid administration may also accumulate in the body, especially in the extracellular spaces, and result in rapid weight gain.

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  • Some patients who have low albumin and protein levels in the plasma may accumulate fluid in their bodies.
  • These patients are especially at risk of developing fluid overload as a result of intravenous fluid administration.
  • Similarly, intravenous fluid administration in patients with heart failure, kidney, and liver disease also accumulate outside the blood vessels and cause rapid weight gain.

Rapid weight gain can occur due to hormonal disturbances:

  • Hypothyroidism can cause rapid weight gain. Rapid weight gain due to hypothyroidism may be due to fat accumulation as well as fluid retention. Hypothyroid patients are very slow metabolizers and burn calories at a very slow rate.
  • Ovarian cancers and polycystic ovarian syndrome can be associated with rapid weight gain. People with polycystic ovarian syndrome usually have underlying metabolic syndrome and obesity is one component of the metabolic syndrome. Ovarian cancers may secrete female hormones in excess that may cause rapid weight gain.

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  • Insulinoma and pituitary dysfunction can also cause rapid weight gain. These conditions are rare and often associated with other endocrine problems as well.
  • Cushing’s syndrome is a condition of excess cortisol production in the body that increases appetite and redistributes fats. It is commonly associated with weight gain. Cushing’s syndrome may also be associated with diabetes, hypertension, and osteoporosis.

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Rapid weight gain can occur as a result of medications:

  • Certain medications can cause rapid fat accumulation in the belly. The most important and most common medication that causes rapid weight gain is insulin.
  • Insulin is used to treat diabetes type 1 and some patients who have type 2 diabetes but are on insulin. Insulin can also be misused by athletes and wrestlers for weight gain and increased muscle bulk.
  • Sulfonylureas like glimepiride, gliclazide, glyburide, and other diabetes medications like pioglitazone can cause rapid weight gain. These drugs increase body fat content as well as result in fluid accumulation.

Diabetes Medicines that Cause Weight Gain

  • Oral contraceptive pills can be associated with rapid weight gain in women. OCPs use in women is common and hence, weight gain is one of the major concerns of females using OCPs.
  • Antidepressant medications are commonly associated with weight gain. Immobility, binge eating, and SSRIs may result in rapid weight gain in these patients.

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  • Smoking cessation may also be associated with weight gain.

Rare causes of rapid weight gain:

  • Certain rare genetic diseases can cause rapid weight gain. These patients usually have a defect in the hunger center of the hypothalamus (in the brain). A list of rare genetic conditions that can be associated with rapid weight gain include:
    • Prader Willi Syndrome:
      • A rare genetic disease with a defective chromosome 15. Children have behavioral problems, hypotonia, hyperphagia (excessive hunger), growth, and sex hormone deficiency.
    • Bardet Biedel Syndrome:
      • These patients have retinal problems, kidney problems, and mental retardation along with obesity.
    • Cohen Syndrome:
      • Patients have mental retardation, prominent central incisors, retinal dystrophy.
    • Alstrom Syndrome:
      • These patients have Diabetes, Dilated cardiomyopathy, retinal dystrophy, and sensory neural hearing loss, along with obesity.
    • Fragile X Syndrome
    • Borjeson-Forssman-Lehmann Syndrome
    • Albright hereditary osteodystrophy
  • Surgical Sleeve gastrectomy is the mainstay of morbid obesity in these patients. Some patients may respond to topiramate treatment as well.

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How to Manage Your Weight

While becoming skinny is not advised but you can do a lot to lose unhealthy pounds.

Eating a healthy diet is necessary as it can be the main source of weight gain. Keep your diet high in fiber and protein but low in trans fats and sugar. Limit the consumption of red meat.

Your physical activity should match your calorie intake. So, a 30 mins walk will do great. Also, managing your stress levels will be preferred, you can try to meditate or seek a therapist for this purpose.

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What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

Here is a link to My Facebook Page. You can also contact me by email at or at My Twitter Account
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