Big Belly?

My bro wants to know why his stomach just hangs out when he relaxes it sometimes. He is a skinny kid and is fairly well built (17 yrs old 6’ 185, @ ~12% bodyfat) He does not have very much fat on his stomach and this happens even when he doesn’t eat very much.

However, he says that this only happens sometimes, other times it is normally skinny when relaxed.

I have some theories on this, such as differing resting tension of the abs/stomach muscles or gas or backed up fecal matter, but does anyone know for sure what this is and why it changes?

Thanks for dealing with this sort of silly question, because I am pretty sure it has a factual medical answer.


1.water retention (high sodium diet)
2.intestines full from previous meals
3.poor posture/standing habits
4.weak muscles in ab region and/or lower back
5.all of above
6.some of above

  1. He’s fat

Seriously, 185 pounds on a 17-yo 6-foot frame is a tad overweight. Mind, I’m not one to talk, but I’m 6’0" and on my many crash-diets I’ve conquered the stomach thing by getting down to 165ish.

I’d not worry about it too much if I were him, he can’t be all THAT fat, but if it really bothers him he can lose it in a few months with steady dieting.

12% body fat - if that’s accurate, he’d never be considered fat.

zuma, he’s 17.
BMI is inaccurate for athletic, well-muscled young men because muscle and dense bone weigh so much compared to fat.

does he do any excercises to work his obliques?
or is he just interested in getting a nice six pack on his rectus?

since the rectus overlies 2 layers of oblique muscles all the standard crunches in the world won’t give you a flat stomach without some oblique toning too.

I’ll freely admit I have no idea what 12% body fat means. I do know what 17, 185 pounds, and 6 feet tall means, though. Is the guy muscular? Can you provide a picture? Big bellies do not come out of nowhere. believe me, I know!

i’m telling you, he’s a skinny kid. but he works out. he’s got big muscles. he just has “male pregnancy syndrome”. that’s what i call it anyway.

i’ve seen this on some other fat guys too. that are fairly fat, but their belly is just HUGE! it’s as if they have an inner tube in the gut! what takes up all this extra volume of a gut that protrudes 7 inches, but only has 2 inches of fat on top???

i am seeking a detailed, technical, medical answer, nothing less.

  1. not water retention. his heart is strong and he drinks plenty of water. also, he is fairly cut on the rest of his body.
  2. this happens more often than not when he HASN’T had a big meal.
  3. it is not posture. it is there whether he stands tall or slumps.

It means you can’t pinch an inch. He has the same body fat as a professional tennis player, hockey player, basketball player or other lean and mean athletes.

So, rule out fat.

Think abs/back/obliques.

Shoot all these down? … see a doctor in case he is working on a record breaking tumor.

it comes and goes for him though. that is the odd thing here, isn’t it?

haha, it’s a funny thought, going to the doc because your stomach gets big every couple of days! imagine the conversation scheduling the appointment and then meeting the doc. :slight_smile:

it’s not a tumor though. this happens to me too. the “mass” you see hanging there is mostly NOT fat, it’s just, well… that’s my question. it’s fairly normal. most people have this.

in medicine you got your Fs for abdominal swelling:


so i’m going to say it’s one of the last 2.
your boy’s got gas and a full intestine.

haha, thanks irishgirl. i’ll have to look up foetus… or maybe that’s the same thing as fetus? hmmmm…

i’m assuming by fluid you mean water or urine?

It is possible to have very little subcutaneous fat, while storing quite a bit of fat internally. Males are especially prone to this. So not being able to pinch an inch is not really a measure of the fat percentage of his body.

I for example am about 30 pounds overweight (wear 39 inch waist pants and am only 5’9", but cannot get an inch of fat on my abdomen. Unfortunately this abdominally stored fat is not especially good for health when compared to subcutaneous fat.

That doesn’t mean that your brother is overweight. The only way to know is to actually have the fat percentage of his body measured by professionals.

“since the rectus overlies 2 layers of oblique muscles all the standard crunches in the world won’t give you a flat stomach without some oblique toning too.”



Does he drink alcohol? I remember hearing in a class at college that the way alcohol is broken down in your body it causes alot of excess gas that balloons up the tummy.

I will tell you exactly what he is…PRE-FAT

6’ 185 lbs is in NO way fat, but from my exp., he’s on his way


Maybe this sounds silly but could it be bloating? I’m lactose-intolerant and for me to have dairy, I bloat like crazy.

lamafish: he’s not fat and probably will never be. ever heard of muscles???

plain jane: is bloating a technical term? what makes up the bloating you speak of?

peope like sunstone: keep in mind… this changes from day to day for him. so you can rule out fat as the mass behind the big belly. probably backed up feces and gas, like irishgirl said. but good point sunstone.

Where do people get the idea that all you need to know to decide he’s fat (or “pre-fat”, whatever the hell that is) is his height and weight? I used to work with a guy, same height as me, who would fit neatly, shoulders and all, inside the area of my chest with a couple of inches to spare. At 10% body fat, he’d weigh 135, I’d weigh 195, and that’s not a result of extensive gym time on my part or clinical malnutrition on his.