How To Lose Hormonal Belly Fat In 2024: 8 Healthy & Effective Ways To Try

how to lose hormonal belly fat
Hormones impact fat cells in various ways. Photo: Lee Charlie/Shutterstock

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Losing hormonal belly fat is a common concern requiring a holistic and personalized approach for the best results. Identifying the underlying causes is crucial in successful weight loss when hormone imbalances are involved.

Let’s dive into eight of the best methods to help you shed extra belly fat. We’ll explore signs that your hormones may contribute to weight gain and uncover the factors behind hormonal belly fat.

From tailored exercise routines that target abdominal fat mass to dietary adjustments that help balance your hormones, we’ll provide practical solutions that work. Read on to learn how to lose hormonal belly fat effectively.

8 Tips To Get Rid Of Hormonal Belly Fat

Here are eight tips to eliminate excess belly fat caused by hormones:

  • Eat low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods emphasizing lean protein sources.
  • Do high-intensity interval training. 
  • Cut out alcohol.
  • Try time-restricted eating.
  • Manage stress levels.
  • Focus on non-scale victories.
  • Practice good sleeping patterns.
  • Consult a healthcare provider.

8 Best Methods To Lose Hormonal Belly Fat

how to lose hormonal belly fat
Hormonal changes can cause your body to store fat. Photo: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Hormonal belly fat is often called cortisol belly, although other hormones may contribute to excess belly fat. Characterized by excess fat mass in the belly region, it typically results from hormonal imbalances driven by elevated cortisol levels, an estrogen deficiency, leptin resistance, elevated insulin levels, or an imbalance in reproductive hormones.

In some cases, it may be due to menopausal weight gain from declining estrogen levels and other mid-life factors. Other hormonal causes may include polycystic ovary syndrome or diabetes. Here are eight proven methods to reduce excess weight in the belly.

Eat Low-Calorie, Nutrient-Dense Foods, And Lean Protein

Focusing on low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods, such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein sources, can be a game-changer in tackling hormonal belly fat. These foods not only aid weight loss but also specifically combat hormonal causes of belly fat.

Low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, are rich in fiber and water.[1] Therefore, high-fiber foods promote fullness without excess calories. This satiety reduces overeating, and fiber helps regulate cortisol levels.

Lean proteins, such as lean meats, fish, and high-quality plant-based sources, support muscle growth. These high-quality lean protein sources can help boost metabolism[2] and reduce hunger.

Choosing whole, unprocessed foods[3] and following an anti-inflammatory diet also allows you to avoid inflammatory additives and sugars that can further exacerbate hormonal imbalances. In addition,  a clean approach to nutrition where the emphasis is on avoiding food additives and eating whole, unprocessed foods helps your body manage stress more efficiently.

Incorporating these choices into your diet can also reduce the accumulation of visceral fat, which is a hallmark of a cortisol belly,[4] insulin resistance, and impaired glucose tolerance. Talk to a registered dietitian to create a hormonal belly diet plan that works with your weight loss goals.

Do High-Intensity Interval Training, Or HIIT

HIIT is an excellent tool to combat belly fat. This approach involves short bursts of intense physical activity, like sprinting or cycling, followed by brief recovery periods.

HIIT is particularly effective[5] at regulating hormones because of its impact on cortisol, insulin, and other critical hormones involved in weight management. HIIT helps elevate the heart rate, burn calories, and stimulate the production of growth hormone, which assists in fat metabolism.

Additionally, it improves insulin sensitivity. This reduces the risk of insulin-related weight gain, often seen in polycystic ovary syndrome or diabetes.

The intense nature of HIIT also increases cortisol regulation and helps lower stress levels. You stimulate hormonal responses that encourage the utilization of fat stores[6] by challenging your body with these workouts.

Therefore, incorporating HIIT sessions into your exercise routine can be transformative for those looking for effective ways to lose belly fat caused by hormonal imbalances – such as slow thyroid, reduced thyroid hormone levels, and associated physical symptoms of fatigue, excess weight gain, and high blood sugar.

Cut Out Alcohol

Regular or excessive alcohol consumption can have many adverse effects[7] on the body. Alcohol also affects cortisol levels in several ways that contribute to hormonal belly fat.

Firstly, alcohol consumption can stimulate cortisol release as the body perceives it as a stressor. Elevated cortisol levels increase fat storage around the abdominal area.

Alcohol is often a significant contributor to weight gain because it is calorie-dense.[8] Many people unknowingly take in a calorie surplus through beverages, which ultimately leads to weight gain. Alcohol may also impair judgment, leading to poor dietary choices and overeating.

Additionally, alcohol interferes with the liver’s ability to metabolize fat.[9] It directs the body to store excess calories as fat, often leading to an inability to lose weight. Habitual drinking can also disrupt the balance of gut bacteria,[10] which negatively impacts the metabolism and increases belly fat.

Cutting out or limiting alcohol consumption can reduce these adverse effects of alcohol and aid in your weight loss goals.

Try Time-Restricted Eating

Another effective strategy to adopt is time-restricted eating. You would adhere to a fasting schedule where you consume meals during specific hours and abstain from eating during the remaining time. For example, you opt for an eight-hour eating window and fast for the remaining 16 hours. 

There are two common types of intermittent fasting[11] to consider:

  1. Alternate Day Fasting: This approach entails a 24 hour fasting period followed by a day of regular eating. ADF aims to provide the body with a break from food consumption.[12] 
  2. Time-Restricted Eating: Also known as TRE, this limits your eating window to a shorter period. For example, you may fast for up to 16 hours and consume all meals within an eight-hour timeframe or fast for 12 hours and eat during a 12-hour window. 

TRE improves insulin sensitivity and reduces body fat[13] in women with PCOS.

While some may assume that more extended fasting periods lead to rapid weight loss, this is inaccurate. Many individuals find TRE easier to maintain. TRE can also be combined with reduced calorie intake to improve metabolic health. While skipping dinner or breakfast may impact cortisol regulation[14] and potentially affect weight management and fat storage, more studies are needed to tease out the effects. 

Manage Stress Levels

It’s essential to manage your stress levels when dealing with excess abdominal fat. Cortisol plays a significant role in the body’s response to stressors. Levels remain consistently elevated when stress is elevated. Here is how this leads to an accumulation of abdominal fat:

  • Stress triggers the release of cortisol, prompting the storage of visceral fat[15] around the midsection. This type of fat is particularly harmful because it surrounds vital organs and contributes to metabolic dysfunction. 
  • Elevated cortisol levels[16] increase appetite and lead to sugary and fatty food cravings, which lead to weight gain in the belly. 
  • Prolonged stress[17] can also lead to insulin resistance. As the body has difficulty regulating blood sugar, fat accumulates around the abdominal region.

It is crucial to implement stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing,[18] and regular exercising[19] to reduce cortisol belly. These practices can improve hormonal balance, lower cortisol levels, and make it easier to burn belly fat.

Focus On Non-Scale Victories

Shifting your focus from the number on the scale to non-scale victories can be incredibly beneficial when trying to reverse abdominal weight gain. Non-scale victories are achievements related to your health and well-being beyond weight loss.

Non-scale victories provide motivation and a sense of accomplishment that helps you stay committed to your journey over the long term. These victories can be milestones like improved energy levels, improved mood, increased endurance, or fitting more comfortably into your clothes.

Remember, it’s crucial to be patient. You won’t lose weight overnight, but consistent changes can help reduce fat and create noticeable changes in your body weight.

Focusing on non-scale victories also promotes body positivity and self-acceptance. It shifts the emphasis from body weight and appearance to overall well-being. Finding joy and satisfaction in these accomplishments can help lower stress levels, further impacting your weight loss success.

Practice Good Sleeping Patterns

Getting quality sleep each night helps regulate cortisol levels and minimize fat storage. A good night’s sleep[20] also plays a critical role in managing insulin levels, which is essential to balancing blood sugar and improving the metabolism.

Adequate sleep is a vital component in the battle against cortisol belly.[21] Your body’s cortisol levels rise when you don’t get enough sleep. This stress hormone disrupts your sleep pattern and causes your body to store body fat in the abdominal region. Poor sleep habits[22] exacerbate menopause weight gain.

Sleep deprivation[23] also interferes with regulating leptin and ghrelin, hormones that control appetite. When you’re sleep-deprived, leptin decreases, and ghrelin increases. Leptin reduces appetite and energy regulation, while ghrelin increases appetite. This hormonal imbalance often leads to overeating.

Establish a consistent bedtime routine and create a sleep-conducive environment to improve sleep patterns. Try to get around seven to nine hours[23] of sleep every night to maintain hormonal balance and reduce belly fat.

Consult A Healthcare Provider

Many adults experience hormonal imbalances as they age. Therefore, you should consult your healthcare provider about medications and supplements for hormonal balance and symptom control.

Sex hormones strongly influence how the body distributes fat. Hot flashes, mood swings, and weight fluctuations can accompany estrogen deficiency[24] in menopausal women. These changes can lead to the development of metabolic syndrome and higher cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal women.

Testosterone levels[25] typically fall as men age. Low testosterone in men can lead to a range of issues, including reduced energy, reduced muscle mass, and weight gain. High androgen levels (male hormones) in polycystic ovary syndrome lead to more fat being stored in the abdominal region.

Issues with thyroid hormones can also cause you to gain weight. Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland is underactive. When your body struggles to get enough thyroid hormones, you may notice weight gain[26] because the metabolism slows down. Proper diagnosis and treatment with thyroid hormone are essential for maintaining a healthy weight with hypothyroidism.

Signs Your Hormones Are Causing Weight Gain

how to lose hormonal belly fat
Hormones and weight gain connections are common, especially in women. Photo: Zania Studio/Shutterstock

Since hormonal imbalances can significantly impact your weight, recognizing the signs that your hormones are contributing to weight gain is crucial. These signs can manifest in various ways, including:

  • Insatiable Hunger: Hormonal imbalances can disrupt appetite-regulating hormones.[27] This can lead to excess and insatiable hunger that typically causes individuals to consume sugary or high-calorie foods. 
  • Mood Swings: Hormone fluctuations can also trigger mood swings[28] that lead to emotional eating and poor food choices. 
  • Fatigue: Hormonal weight gain is often associated with low energy levels[29] that make it challenging to engage in physical activity, such as in an underactive thyroid gland.
  • Water Retention: Water weight may also be a concern, as hormonal imbalances cause temporary weight fluctuations and bloating commonly seen when estrogen levels drop. 
  • Irregular Menstrual Cycles: Women can experience irregular menstrual cycles[30] due to changes in estrogen and progesterone levels. Menopausal hormone therapy may help those experiencing irregular cycles due to age or approaching menopause.
  • Thyroid Dysfunction: An underactive thyroid[29] can affect metabolism-regulating thyroid hormones and make weight loss efforts challenging. Thyroid hormone supplementation will resolve these challenges.
  • Insomnia: Poor sleep quality caused by hormonal disruptions can affect appetite-regulating hormones[20] and cause weight gain. 

What Causes A Hormonal Belly?

Several factors can contribute to the development of a hormonal belly. These include:

  • Chronic stress, which triggers cortisol release and increases abdominal fat storage. 
  • Poor insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance that causes higher insulin levels and promotes excess belly fat around the midsection. 
  • An underactive thyroid, which slows the metabolism, promoting leptin resistance. 
  • Fluctuations in estrogen levels, especially during menopause, cause estrogen levels to drop. This also increases the risk of obesity and heart disease. 
  • Declining testosterone levels in men.
  • Medical conditions like PCOS, diabetes, or menopause.
  • Reduced growth hormone levels can negatively affect metabolism and fat utilization.
  • Inadequate sleep increases the risk of hormonal belly fat because it disrupts hormone regulation. 
  • Unhealthy lifestyle choices like sedentary behavior, poor dietary choices, and excessive alcohol consumption all impact hormones that may cause you to gain weight. 


Addressing hormonal belly fat involves a multifaceted approach. Embracing methods like time-restricted eating, consuming low-calorie, high-fiber, nutrient-dense foods, and exercising daily can make a significant difference. Recognizing the signs of hormonal fat and understanding the underlying causes, such as cortisol levels, thyroid imbalances, reproductive hormone fluctuations, and insulin imbalances, is also vital. 

Stress management, quality sleep, and focusing on non-scale victories further contribute to your weight loss success. By taking a holistic approach and integrating healthy lifestyle changes, you can reduce excess fat and feel healthier and more confident in your body.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can stress really affect hormonal belly fat?

Yes, elevated stress levels trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone associated with abdominal fat accumulation. Stress management is crucial for weight control. 

Is it safe to try hormone replacement therapies?

Hormone replacement therapies can be safe when prescribed and monitored by a healthcare professional. 

Is hormonal belly fat hard to lose?

Hormonal belly fat can be challenging to lose due to hormonal imbalances affecting fat storage and metabolism. It is possible with a holistic approach involving diet, exercise, and stress management. 

How can I reduce my hormonal belly naturally?

Naturally lowering hormonal belly fat involves a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep. 

What are the signs of a hormonal belly?

Signs of a hormonal belly include increased abdominal fat, changes in fat distribution, and insulin resistance. Cravings for sugary or high-fat foods and difficulty losing weight despite efforts in diet and exercise are also signs. 

Is hormonal belly reversible?

Yes, hormonal belly is reversible with appropriate lifestyle changes and medication treatment when needed. 

Can my hormonal belly go away?

Yes, a hormonal belly can diminish or go away with a proper diet, medication if needed, and an exercise plan. Improving your lifestyle habits, like getting enough sleep, can also help. 

What is the fastest way to lose hormonal weight?

The fastest way to lose hormonal weight is through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management. Still, it’s crucial to prioritize long-term sustainable changes for lasting results. 

Are there any herbs to help burn fat from cortisol belly? 

Some herbs mentioned for hormonal balance and weight management include ashwagandha,[31] maca, and Rhodiola.[32] The effectiveness of these herbs can vary from person to person and should be part of a broader approach to hormonal balance. 

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EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Sarah Muoio is a writer based in Milford, CT. Aside from writing, she is passionate about childhood illness advocacy, surfing, and philanthropy. She’ll never pass up an opportunity to enjoy live music with family and friends. See More