Bubble Gut: What is it, its Causes and Treatment?

Bubble gut explained

If you’re a bodybuilder and you notice your gut looks like it has fat or heavy bloating, you may be experiencing a condition known as “bubble gut.”

If you take a look at photos of bodybuilders from the most recent bodybuilding competition, you’ll notice that their deltoids and biceps aren’t the only part of the body that are getting bigger. You’ll spot that their guts have bubbled up as well.

One would think that maybe steroids would cause this issue, but it’s not necessarily the case. You’ll notice that some bodybuilders in the ‘70s or ‘80s have also used steroids, but you don’t see any swollen guts or engorged midsections.

So what is a bubble gut, what causes it and how can bodybuilders avoid their midsections from swelling up?

What is a Bubble Gut?

A bubble gut is when your stomach gets too big mainly because the organs inside have ballooned to the point where they are starting to press against each other. This can cause people to look like they’ve got extra fat around their midsection because of all this pressure, adding to the excess weight gained from eating. 

Bubble gut is also known as insulin gut, palumboism, or HGH (human growth hormone) gut. One of the main causes of a bubble gut is the abuse of human growth hormones.

What Causes Bubble Gut?

A bubble gut is a rare condition that mainly affects bodybuilders. Although there are no official studies or research that reveal the main cause of a bubble gut, there are records showing when this issue began which were in the ‘90s.

These records also coincide with the time bodybuilders began experimenting more with insulin and human growth hormone so that they can be more competitive. However, HGH or human growth hormone alone is not the cause.

Below are some of the potential causes of bubble gut.


Insulin is a hormone that’s released into the bloodstream by your pancreas. It helps with glucose metabolism, increases fat burning and speeds up recovery time after exercise or training sessions.

This makes it a key player in a bodybuilder’s arsenal as it’s used to drive more nutrients into muscles while also helping with recovery. Some people may take advantage by abusing external insulin treatments which can lead them to have stomach distension.

Excessive use of insulin can cause abnormal fat storage around internal organs that could lead to a bloated stomach.

Human Growth Hormone

HGH or human growth hormone is a growth hormone that’s naturally produced by the pituitary gland. As its name suggests HGH is a hormone that’s responsible for cell growth and is essential in cell repair while also having cosmetic effects like making skin look younger.

When natural HGH is not enough, people may turn to synthetic or artificial forms of this hormone. Abuse of HGH can lead to bigger muscles but larger internal organs. Not only that but the bones of the face, hands, feet and nose may grow bigger as well.

High-Calorie Diet

To gain muscle, bodybuilders must follow a high-protein diet that includes many carbohydrates. A bodybuilder can consume more than 10,000 calories per day. This amount of food intake can remain in the stomach for an extended period of time and can cause gut distension.

Carbo-Loading and Water Manipulation Methods

Some bodybuilders use a method called carb-loading where one reduces carbs while decreasing water intake to eliminate excess water from the body. 

After flushing the water out of the body, they proceed to consume large amounts or carbs and water which then causes supercompensation of water in the body. The result is a greater definition and volume in the muscles. 

Done wrong and issues with carbohydrate intake and slower digestion can happen. Slower digestion means more food stays in the gut causing the midsection to bloat.

Bubble Gut: Treatments

Based on the causes of bubble gut, the most effective way to treat it is to stop using HGM and insulin. Following this, a normal healthy diet should help bring the body back to normal. 

One thing to keep in mind though is that bones or organs that grew because of HGH abuse might no longer be reversible. Muscles can shrink but the bones will no longer change. You should consult with your doctor regarding these matters.

If you’re a bodybuilder who sees the need to use these methods, make sure to use these substances for shorter cycles or periods of time, this way, the side effects will be fewer. Make sure to always consult with a professional before consuming HGH and insulin.

Build and Develop Muscles Naturally

A bubble gut is a sign that some of your body parts are abnormally growing. These can all be linked to insulin and HGH abuse. 

For bodybuilders, building muscles and body mass are part of their lives. However, instead of using man-made substances, you can increase your growth hormone levels naturally. This means fewer risks and a safer method.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase human growth hormone production. This is because when you strategically skip your meal, it helps the body break down fat and lower insulin levels in order for nutrients like sugar or carbohydrates not to mask these hormones so they can be used more efficiently by cells throughout your body. 

Eating less sugar can also help in building your muscles. Avoiding eating late at night may have even greater benefits than simply maintaining an occasional fast during the day.

Exercise harder and longer

High-intensity workouts mainly strength and interval training are two of the most effective ways to increase the production of human growth hormone naturally. 

Get better sleep

Getting better sleep will provide your body with the time to release HGH. It has been shown that people who don’t get enough are at risk of low levels of HGH or even experiencing a lack in production due to the body not getting enough time to recuperate and rest.

Make sure you’re getting eight solid hours every night to make sure that your body has time to both repair muscles and tissues, as well as generate HGM. 

Use generic supplements

There are over-the-counter supplements that you can take to help increase the production of HGH. Make sure that the supplements you’re taking contain one or three of the substances below.

  • Creatine
  • Glycine
  • Orthenine
  • Beta-alanine
  • Arginine
  • Orthonine
  • L-dopa
  • Melatonin

Always consult with a licensed physician or a health care professional before using any new method or consuming substances that could affect your health.

About the Author

Medical Disclaimer

The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. The content on the website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, treatment, or advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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