Why Does My Stomach Stick Out Even If I’m Not Fat?

There are a few reasons that someone’s stomach can stick out. The first is body fat levels, and the second is metabolic dysfunction (linked to heart disease, diabetes, etc.), and the third is related to posture. Let’s take a look.

Two Main Types Of Fat

Before we dive in, in the Skinny-Fat Fix and Stubborn Fat Fix For Women programs, I cover the cutting-edge science of how there are two main types of fat in the body.

  1. The regular, pinchable, healthy type of fat. This is normal fat storage and is stored energy. This is often called SSAT, or superficial subcutaneous adipose tissue, in studies).
  2. The stubborn, irregular, unhealthy type of fat. This is most well-known as visceral fat that surrounds the organs. But researchers have now found out that this bad type of fat isn’t just around the organs. It’s also above your muscles too, including your abs and lower back. This is called deep-superficial-subcunatous-fat (DSAT in studies). Both visceral and DSAT fat is linked to diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, declining mitochondrial health, low ATP (cellular energy in the body), and chronic inflammation.

With that explanation of fat types out of the way—I don’t see anyone talking about this, and that’s a big problem. Most doctors, coaches, and influencers are trying to use the game plan of cutting calories (that clearly isn’t working) on the second type of dangerous fat.

High Regular Bodyfat Levels And The Stomach Sticking Out

High Total BodyFat Levels & Stomach Fat

If someone is overweight, that extra fat stored under the skin can make them bigger everywhere, including the stomach, and lower belly area. If you eat more energy than the speed of your metabolism, your body will store some fat as the healthy type of fat for future use. This type of fat storage can happen, even in a very healthy person if they’re:

  • Having too many easy-to-consume calories such as liquid calories like soda pop, juice, or pushing themselves with a hard bulk.
  • Eating highly processed calories that take up little space in your stomach allowing someone to overeat.

Remember that normal fat storage is healthy. We need fat storage on our body for consistent energy. And in the past, there were brutal long winters, famines, and wars that made access to consistent food difficult. Storing fat away was a good thing.

But in today’s world, too much regular fat is almost always tied to the second unhealthy type of fat—basically, your metabolism has tanked.

Metabolic Dysfunction And The Stomach sticking out

Metabolic Issues & Stubborn Belly Fat

You can be thin and very lean and develop heart disease and diabetes.

How is this possible?

Heart disease and diabetes is linked to something called “chronic inflammation.” Chronic inflammation is when your body has been suffering from symptoms of inflammation for six months or longer.

When you are chronically inflamed, this causes a burden on the body, and there’s an increase in heart disease and diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Now, this isn’t widely known, but you can be stick-skinny and have type II diabetes. Usually, this is because of disturbed gut health because of a immune system problem. With your digestive system not working as well, your body isn’t getting the minerals and vitamins it needs for organ health, so your organs are slowly getting damaged.

Sometimes, people who aren’t fat are also eating a lot of processed foods, that don’t contain the minerals/vitamins the body needs.

Some people’s bodies, like ectomorphs, will increase their metabolism and fidgeting when eating high-calorie processed foods. So some people can eat things like chips, cookies, and soda pop which have no nutrients in them, and then their body can get rid of the extra calories—no problem. But then they are suffering from postural issues or a little belly developing, which is visceral fat just around the organs.

I was one of these people before. I was clinically underweight, yet I was eating bags of chips, boxes of cookies, Eggo waffles with peanut butter and syrup poured all over it, etc. I was still skinny despite eating a ridiculous amount of calories. (Here I am gaining 27 pounds of lean mass in 4 months after improving my diet with real food, sunshine, and lifting weights.)

Jared Polowick Muscle Building

Normal Amounts of “Regular” Body Fat While Having High Levels Of Visceral Fat

It is possible to have a low or normal amount of regular body fat while having a higher amount of stubborn fat, specifically at the belly (and sometimes the neck to make a double-chin.) This is because someone might be at risk of a metabolic disorder like worsening heart disease, diabetes, or some other problems related to chronic inflammation. So it is possible for someone to have low body fat levels yet still have a stomach sticking out due to higher visceral fat around the organs

Deep stubborn fat

Visceral Fat

Bad Posture And The Stomach

Anterior Pelvic Tilt Due To Sitting All Day

Some people aren’t fat, but they work a desk job and sit all day. Their body gets better at sitting, and they lose movement variety in their day, and their mobility decreases. Now it’s hard to raise your arms above your head, and your pelvis tilts forward, stretching your abs out. This can also be a cause of bad back pain.

When they stand, it looks like they’re still sitting:

Skinny-Fat Belly Postural
Illustration By Bony to Beastly

Having bad posture could be all sorts of things often called:

  • anterior pelvic tilt
  • upper/lower cross syndrome
  • forward head tilt / nerd neck
  • kyphosis and lordosis

How To Fix Bad Posture

Now a lot of people on Youtube will show you a stretch you need to do every day to keep your posture. Don’t get me wrong—mobility routines and stretches and all those sorts of things can be helpful, especially when trying to regain your movement.

But posture is beyond stretching. Posture comes down to bone density and collagen and joint health.

Improve Your Diet To Improve Your Posture

Posture is fundamentally a nutrient issue. This is because we can also see postural issues happen in agricultural animals during specific nutrient deficiencies, such as swayback in sheep and cattle being caused by a vitamin A / copper deficiency. This is because retinol and copper is needed for spinal health as it’s used in collagen and bone formation.

Most of us in the Western world have some sort of nutrient deficiency because of being raised on processed foods, or a bad diet as an adult, or bad gut health due to a variety of reasons.

Improve Your Lifestyle to Improve Your Posture

Aside from eating a better diet, other things can help with posture.

You can walk more, to start. As we mentioned before, the body has adapted to sitting. You can make the body adapt to walking. Your body will learn to adapt long distances without expending a lot of calories. That means it’ll need to get efficient. It will help you get tall and better at walking.

Another good thing for posture, is improving bone health through reasonable sunshine exposure, causing vitamin D synthesis. The ultra-violet-b rays that generate vitamin D can bounce. That means you can get vitamin D in the shade, but you need to be outside. No UV-B will go through windows.

UVB Bounces and shaded sun helps with vitamin d

Lifting Weights & Fixing Pelvic Posture

In my experience, I found that lifting weights helped me improve my posture. This is because you would try and get as tall as possible, and with good form, put yourself under a heavy weight, which would challenge your muscles in a position while you’re standing tall.

Postural Exercises I Found Helpful

Exercises I found particularly good for postural rehab were:

The Deadbug

Front Planks

Conventional Barbell Deadlift

Weighted Farmer Carries


What Next?

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