SteroidsWhat is Palumboism? How To Avoid Bubble Gut

What is Palumboism? How To Avoid Bubble Gut

What is Palumboism?

Everyone who is into bodybuilding has heard about the bodybuilder’s belly or bubble gut. It is a physical condition where a bodybuilder develops an overly bloated stomach that is not proportional to the chest.

In some extreme cases, bodybuilders develop excessive stomach ballooning that they look more like a pregnant woman than a fitness enthusiast.
What makes a lean and muscular athlete develop such an extended gut? Can it be prevented? How is it treated? These are the questions we shall discuss in this article.

Bodybuilding is a highly competitive sport, and those in this field go through intense pressure to perform and succeed.

As a result, athletes and bodybuilders through history have had to push themselves beyond their body’s limit and go through excruciating pain.

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While some stick to natural methods, many resort to abuse of anabolic steroids to increase strength and bulk up in muscles, resulting in severe side-effects and diseases. Palumboism is one such disease manifesting as a side-effect to the abuse of anabolic steroids coupled with other factors.

How did it start?

During the 1970s to 2000s, bodybuilding was hugely in trend, with the likes of Lou Ferrigno, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Dorian Yates occupying the spotlight.

Their tightly ripped contours and monstrous muscles were aesthetically pleasing. The muscular body became the standard for male looks. During this time, the abuse of anabolic steroids sharply increased with the craze for “mass monster” body.

In the 1990s to 2000s, palumboism, a rare condition, began to be spring up among bodybuilders. Dave Palumbo, an American bodybuilder, was the first person to display symptoms. The condition has taken his name.

What is Palumboism?

Palumboism is characterized by a bloated belly that looks disproportionate to a lean and muscular frame. And bodybuilders find it difficult to hold in. The oblique muscles, the muscles on the abdomen’s sides, thicken, causing a bodybuilder to grow a big pot belly rather than a slim waist despite intense exercise.

Big Lenny was attributed the worst-case with his condition dubbed stage 4 Palumboism. His stomach was visibly so extended that his chest sunk into it. Although female cases were fewer, Palumboism was not limited only to men. This period also saw some female bodybuilders with this rare condition.

What causes Palumboism?

There are no medical studies on this disease. Hence, we base all data related to palumboism on observations. However, medicos believe that Palumboism occurs due to a combination of rigorous training and high calorie, high carb diet combined with HGH and insulin. Let us see the individual factors that cause palumboism in detail.

What is Palumboism

Human Growth Hormone

Doctors prescribe human growth hormone to adults who have short bowel syndrome.

Here, a person’s body cannot absorb nutrients because they have removed some intestines surgically or have an intestinal disease.

So, many thought that the distended stomach resulted from innard growth stimulated by HGH. However, this is only partially true, as we shall see from the following sections.


Insulin increases blood and nutrient flow into the muscle cells. They help muscles grow but retain fats as well. According to studies, one in four anabolic steroid abusers also takes insulin to boost their bodybuilding results.

While steroids help build muscles, insulin prevents the existing muscles and liver cells from breaking down. Insulin does that by spiking up glycogen and protein production, besides improving stamina.

However, during bodybuilding, the body is already low on blood sugar, and injecting insulin can lower blood sugar. Abusing insulin not only leads to unnecessary body fat retention but also puts one at risk for hypoglycemia.

Abdominal muscles

Steroids, coupled with insulin and a high protein and energy diet, increase the body muscle mass considerably. The entire body gains muscle mass, including the transverse abdominal walls as well as the obliques. Extreme muscle mass gain in the abdominal area causes the entire mid-section to grow, adding to a bloated look.

High-calorie, High-carb Diet

Bodybuilders consume a large amount of high-calorie food (up to 10,000 calories per day), which may stay in the stomach and cause gut distension. Plus, carb-rich food produces glycogen, which tends to retain water and increase bloating. Besides, carb-loading or glyco-loading can also promote distension. Here athletes manipulate carb and water intake for increasing muscle volume.

Palumboism occurs as a combined effect of all the above factors rather than one single factor. The impact of HGH and insulin combined with intense exercise, intake of high-calorie food, stress, and fatigue creates enough reasons for protruding belly.

How is it treated?

Since there are no medical studies, there are no recommended treatments either. But the good news is that abdominal distension is not permanent. Several bodybuilders have reversed their condition by stopping or limiting the use of steroids and insulin.

So, what should a bodybuilder experiencing palumboism do? Avoid overexertion and stop the use of all steroids, HGH, and insulin. After that, consult a doctor specialized in treating muscle problems.

They treat athletes suffering from side effects of a performance-enhancing substance. While some side effects are semi-permanent or permanent, palumboism certainly seems treatable with lots of reversed cases.

How to prevent Palumbolism?

If you are a bodybuilder or plan on bodybuilding, avoid excess use of HGH and other steroids and opt for natural ways to gain strength and muscles.

Avoid non-prescription insulin shots and overexerting yourself beyond its limits. You will save yourself from other unknown side-effects too. As a famous bodybuilder puts it, the sport should be bodybuilding and not body-destroying.

Other side-effects of steroid drug abuse

The dangers of steroids and illegal drug abuse are not limited to palumboism alone. These drugs also cause increased aggressiveness, irritability, depression, and violent crimes among steroid abusers. Besides mental disorders, they pose severe physical illnesses and life-threatening risks.

Almost all bodybuilders have admitted to using steroids at some point in time. And banning these substances does little to prevent bodybuilders from sourcing these steroids. We hope the bodybuilding community can be more cautious and responsible that they don’t warp their bodies to pursue their dreams.

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