PT on the Net Research

Pooch Belly


I have a client who is unhappy with her shape. She definitely has an endo-meso somatotype, but we have seen good progress in her strength, fitness, muscle tone and measurements. She struggles with her legs but particularly her abdomen. She frequently gets asked if she is pregnant when she has not been so for several years. She has been personal training with me for eight months now! She has a strong core and trains consistently and progressively with good intensity. She has also recently started Pilates and has quite good posture. She has lost centimeters all over her body but far less around her abdomen. We both realize this may just be her shape, but I am hoping (because she deserves it) that there may be a fixable problem? Bloating? Water retention? Are there any likely explanations for her bulging mid-section?


The "pooch" belly is a common problem I see all the time. The factors that lead to it are complex, but I will go over a few of the common problems and give you some resources to read on your own.

Possible Cause #1 - Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome can be caused by a number factors. The main contributors are:

Leaky gut syndrome happens when the tight gap junctions of the intestinal wall are inflamed and allow particulate matter to get through. This initiates an immune response by the body. As you know, when there is an immune response, it is often associated with inflammation. This is seen as the "pooch."

Possible Cause #2 - Improper Activation of the TvA/Lower Abs

This may be a co-factor with leaky gut syndrome. If your client is not able to activate her TvA (transverse abdominus), her internal organs will push out against her abdominal wall. Along with the de-innervation of the lower abs is often de-innervation of the lower abs. This is usually caused by inflammation of the intestines and/or c-section. If the abdominal wall was cut through during child birth and never properly rehabilitated, then there is often a decrease in the innervation to the TvA and the lower abs.

First thing I would do is to determine her metabolic type. Once you have that, you can get her macronutrient ratios in order and start rehabilitating her digestive system. You may want to have her go through a digestive detoxification to eliminate all putrid fecal material as well as a program using pro-biotics and enzymes to re-fluorinate her intestines with "good" bacteria.

Lastly, you can contact some naturopathic physicians and chiropractors in your area to help with the intestinal detox program.