Top 5 Reasons You're Not Losing Belly Fat — And How To Change That
I’m constantly being asked, “Why can’t I lose belly fat?”. I’m sorry girls, you’ve probably heard me say this a million times but if you want to lose belly fat and achieve a toned body, it isn’t going to happen overnight.
It’s also not possible to spot reduce through exercise — in order to lose belly fat, you need to dedicate yourself to a healthy balanced lifestyle and take a holistic approach.
- Why Can't I Lose Belly Fat?
- Not Enough Sleep
- Stress and Belly Fat
- Training Style
- Only Training Abs
- Processed Foods
With that being said, there are ways to give yourself a better chance to lose body fat and gain more defined abs, if that’s what your goal is.
5 reasons why you can’t lose belly fat
These are a few reasons you might be struggling to lose belly fat. Here are some of the common ones:
1. Not getting enough sleep
Turns out that a lack of sleep can be doing you more harm than just a grumpy attitude the next morning! If you want to lose belly fat and have defined abs, then you need to make sure you get enough restful sleep every night!
When you’re not getting enough sleep, your body may produce more ghrelin (the hormone that triggers feelings of hunger) and less leptin (the hormone that helps you to feel full).
This means that you may feel more hungry and less likely to feel full after meals. I’m sure we can all relate to the feeling of not just being tired but also being hangry — not a great combo!
Try to aim for at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night! Make it easier on yourself by staying away from caffeine late at night and try to get into a regular bedtime routine.
Put down your electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed too, as technology impacts your sleep and can impact the production of melatonin, a hormone that signals your body it’s time to rest.
I find a cup of chamomile tea helps me to relax before bed!
2. You’re stressed out
Do you feel like you’re losing weight but you still can’t seem to lose belly fat? Stress might be the reason.
When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. It’s normal to get stressed from time to time.
However, if you’re constantly stressed and have high levels of cortisol in your body, it may make it more difficult for you to lose belly fat. This is because your body is always in ‘fight or flight’ mode and it may not have a chance to relax and digest your food properly.
When your body is under stress, it stores more of the energy from your food as fat, so it’s important to be mindful of what you eat. If your idea of ‘comfort food’ is a big greasy burger, a block of chocolate or a packet of chips, then these foods may not be the best option if you’re wanting to lose belly fat.
I know this one can be super hard to overcome but TRY to add more calm to your life! Find things that calm you down when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
These can be things such as meditation, going for a long walk, talking to friends or family, or simply taking some time out to read a book or watch a movie.
Try not to reach for food when you are stressed and instead find more positive ways to deal with this stress. If you overeat regularly as a way of dealing with stress, then it is likely that you will find it more difficult to lose belly fat, no matter how much exercise you are doing.
3. You’re not doing the right type of training
Many people think of cardio as soon as they think of weight or fat loss. Steady-state cardio, such as walking, running or cycling, can certainly help to burn calories and lead to fat loss – including helping you to lose belly fat.
Cardio can be good for weight loss, however, if cardio is done on its own it might not necessarily be the most effective way to lose belly fat.
Other types of training, such as HIIT and resistance training, can provide you with an afterburn effect. This means your body may continue to burn fat in the hours following your workout. So don’t be afraid to lift weights, girls!
Don’t believe those fat-loss myths that weights can make you bulk up! You might be surprised how different training styles can have a different impact on your body.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you should only do HIIT or resistance training. Instead, you could try to incorporate a mixture of these exercises into your weekly workout plan. Changing things up can make your fitness routine a lot more exciting and help you avoid falling into a rut!
Mixing up your workout routine can also help to give you better results — not just when you’re trying to lose belly fat but in relation to your overall fitness level.
4. You’re just training abs
If you’re one of those people who eats healthily and only does ab exercises, you may wonder why it’s taking longer to lose belly fat than expected! I hate to break it to you ladies, but it’s not actually possible to spot reduce!
What I mean by this is, doing only ab exercises will not give you abs. The only way to lose belly fat, or lose fat from any other trouble areas - like inner thighs, is to lose fat from every area of your body. I hate to say it, but spot reduction isn't real: it's just one of many myths about abs that are out there.
This means you need to ditch your ‘ab-only’ workout routines and find ones that can work multiple muscle groups at the same time.
Compound exercises, such as squats, lunges and push-ups, can do a much better job at this than isolation exercises, such as bicep curls, calf raises or sit-ups.
Find a resistance workout routine that targets all areas of your body, not just your abs! If you need somewhere to start, my programs in the SWEAT app have 28-minute workouts that target ALL areas of your body.
Follow it consistently and you’ll find this can be a great way to lose belly fat. I really want you girls to banish the idea of spot reducing from your thoughts, as it can’t be done!
5. You’re eating too many highly processed foods
While they may taste good, fatty foods such as chips, chocolate, and deep-fried foods can be high in simple sugars and both saturated and trans (bad) fats. This combination can bypass or delay the signal to the brain that lets you know that you feel full.
If you eat these highly processed foods when you are already feeling stressed, it can actually trigger the storage of energy as fat. When you are stressed, your body releases high levels of cortisol.
Combine cortisol with the insulin spike you experience when you eat simple sugars, and the body immediately increases the amount of energy from your food that it stores as fat.
Whole foods that are high in healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and pasture-raised or wild meats have a balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats which do trigger that “full” feeling. This satisfied feeling that you get from choosing healthier snacks and meals will help to stop you from overeating.
Steer clear from fatty, highly processed foods where possible, and especially when you feel stressed! Instead, consume good fats from foods such as fish, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Even though eating good fats can be far better than eating bad ones, it’s still important that you eat these in healthy, balanced amounts.
As mentioned above, if you want to lose belly fat, regular overeating can limit your progress and results.
Patience is key if you want to lose belly fat
Remember that toning up your torso isn’t going to be something that happens overnight.
Don’t give up, be patient with yourself — and your body. Everyone is different, so don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s.
If you want to lose belly fat and feel more toned, it will take a lot of dedication, overcoming those speed humps in your journey and sticking with it. It will be hard work but trust me, you CAN do it!
Good luck ladies!
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.