Getting rid of that excess belly fat is important for more than just looking great. Carrying that excess bulge around your middle is a risk factor for type II diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. If losing belly fat has been a struggle, then these 11 reasons might be why.
You’re Getting Older
As you get older, it’s normal to experience a decline in your metabolism. This means, you’ll need less calories. If you haven’t adjusted your calorie intake downwards, you’re going to start putting on weight. Additionally, when women get older, they also face the effects of menopause. If women gain weight after menopause, it’s almost always in their stomach, according to Michael Jensen, MD, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic’s endocrinology division.
You’re Not Doing the Right Workout
When losing belly fat is your goal, then you need to combine cardio and weights, according to Sangeeta Kashyap, MD, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. If you’re running on the treadmill or taking a spin class, you’re certainly burning calories and helping your heart health; however, you’re not helping to blast away that belly fat. Strength training builds muscle, which burns more calories than fat, so it will help you whittle down your middle.
Too Many Processed Foods
Eating refined grains, such as crackers, chips, and white bread, as well as refined sugars, like those found in sodas, sweetened drinks, and desserts, can increase inflammation in your body. Inflammation has been linked to an increase in belly fat; so, the more processed and refined foods you eat, the harder it will be to lose belly fat. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are not only full of healthy antioxidants, but they also have anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce belly fat.
Eating the Wrong Fats
Not all fats are the same. A high intake of saturated fat, the type of fat found in dairy products and meat, can lead to an increase in visceral fat, the dangerous type of belly fat. Visceral fat is the type of belly fat that lies deep within your abdomen, surrounding your organs. It is the kind of fat associated with many health risks. On the other hand, some types of polyunsaturated fats, such as Omega-3s as well as monounsaturated fats, like olive oil and avocados, have anti-inflammatory effects on your body. So, when you’re trying to lose belly fat, be sure to include a moderate amount of healthy fats in your diet.
You Need a More Challenging Workout
When you want to lose stubborn belly fat, you have to rev up your workouts. According to a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, people who followed a high intensity workout program lost more belly fat than those who followed a lower intensity workout. (In fact, the people who followed the low intensity workout plan didn’t experience any noticeable change.) According to Natalie Jill, a certified personal trainer in San Diego, you need a high intensity workout because it burns more calories, which is your end goal. A high intensity workout means you’re giving it your all for as long as you can.
You’re Doing the Wrong Exercises
When it comes to losing belly fat, many people think crunches are the answer. They’re NOT! So, stop! You can’t spot reduce; but, picking an exercise, such as planks, that let you engage a number of different muscles can help you burn more calories for faster belly fat reduction. Planks engage your core muscles as well as your glutes, legs, arms, and back for a higher rate of calorie burn.
Too Much Stress
Whether it’s worrying about bills, your job, or the kids, too much stress can make losing weight very difficult; this is especially true when you want to lose belly fat. While stress might have you reaching for high calorie snacks, that’s not the biggest factor keeping you from losing belly fat. The stress hormone, cortisol, tends to rise when you’re under stress. Higher levels of cortisol can add to an increase in belly fat. Higher cortisol levels have also been linked to an increase in visceral fat.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Approximately 30% of Americans get less than 6 hours of sleep each night. If you are one of these people, losing belly fat might be as simple as getting more sleep. Studies have shown that people who sleep 5 hours or less each night are 30% more likely to pack on an additional 30 pounds than someone who sleeps 7 hours each night. The National Institute of Health recommends that adults get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night.
You Have an Apple Shape
If you tend to gain weight around your middle as opposed to your hips and thighs, then you have a classic apple shape. This shape is a genetic predisposition, making it harder for you to lose belly fat; however, according to Dr. Kashyap, it doesn’t make losing belly fat impossible.
You Might be Sick
If you’ve been trying to lose belly fat with little success, the problem might be that you are sick. If you are overweight and have an apple shape, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor. There is a chance you could be prediabetic or diabetic.
Are you committed to sticking to the work that’s necessary in order to lose belly fat? Losing belly fat requires following a low calorie diet. This diet should also be low in carbs, but high in fiber. You’ll also need to include weight training as well as cardiovascular exercise. If you are committed to putting in the work, it’s possible to overcome genetics and lose that excess weight and belly fat.