So you’ve decided to start a healthy diet and an exercise routine to get fit and slender. Great!
However, you may find that even weeks after slaying away at the gym and resisting all those carbs, you’re still miles away from that dream flat stomach.
Want to lose that lingering belly fat? Look no further – in this article, I’ll explain what you might have been overlooking in your weight loss journey.
1. You’re doing too much exercise
Do you often feel like passing out after a work-out? Despite what you might have been told, more isn’t necessarily better when it comes to exercise.
This is due to a little something called adrenaline fatigue. Basically, if you’re pushing your body to the limit every day, you’re also increasing your cortisol levels – which can lead to more belly fat.
The solution? According to personal trainer Liz Letchford, making sure you’re picking the best routine for yourself instead of “throwing your body through every intense boot-camp as often as possible.” So, relax (more on that later).
2. You’re eating too little calories
“What?” you might ask yourself. “I was told to cut those out!” Yes, but not completely.
Of course, you need to lower your calorie intake to lose weight – but not totally. According to nutritionist Adda Bjarnadottir, eating too few calories can cause a decrease in your metabolic rate.
So, don’t obsess over numbers – control your calorie intake and keep it in moderation.
3. You’re too stressed out
Once again, – relax. Remember that darn cortisol? This stress hormone can be beneficial in dangerous situations, as it activates your built-in “fight or flight” response.
However, it can be harmful if it circulates in your body for a long period of time. According to a 2018 study, higher longer-term cortisol levels are linked to abdominal obesity.
So, before trying to burn belly fat through diet and exercise alone, make sure you’re taking good care of yourself mentally as well.
4. You’re not drinking enough water
Besides being essential to your survival as a human being, water can also help you lose weight.
Water not only rids your body of all its unnecessary waste but also helps you burn calories along the way. This is because water intake temporarily increases your body’s energy expenditure – and in turn, the number of calories burned while you’re resting.
So, next time you’re feeling thirsty, keep it simple and reach for the tap.
5. Your salt and processed sugar intake is too high
Most Americans consume much more than the recommended levels of sugar and salt – and you maybe do as well. However, don’t be too quick to think the problem is as simple as ditching these two sworn enemies of weight loss.
Most of the sugar and salt we’re consuming too much of is added to commercially packaged foods – around 80%, to be exact.
So, besides holding off on salt and sugar at the dinner table, try avoiding processed foods and go for that recipe that you’ve always wanted to learn.
6. You’re mistaking healthy foods for low-calorie foods
When people think of calories, they often dream of greasy pizzas and delicious cakes. However, make no mistake – there are “healthy” foods whose calorie density is still considerably high.
If you’re trying to lower your calorie intake, make sure to watch out for otherwise healthy foods like yogurt, guacamole, and raisins. In turn, opt for snacks that are both healthy and low-calorie, like carrots and hummus.
7. You’re drinking your calories (alcohol and sweet drinks)
Speaking of calories, they’re not only on your plate – they might be in your glass too.
If you’re looking to get rid of belly fat, maybe it’s time to drop the can. Most soda beverages are high in sugar and calories – Coca-Cola, for instance, contains around 12 calories an ounce.
Alcoholic beverages aren’t off the hook either – there’s a reason why it’s called a “beer belly”! So if you’re looking for a drink, don’t forget the best option is always a glass of water.
8. You’re not eating enough protein
Another thing that might be keeping you from losing your belly fat might be your low protein intake.
When it comes to weight loss, protein is your best friend – it can help boost your metabolic rate, help you eat fewer calories, and reduce your cravings.
Also, it’s just good for you in general if you’re looking to increase your protein intake, stock up on foods like whole eggs, broccoli, and cottage cheese.
9. You’re too sociable! (too many friends, too many occasions to eat out)
So, you’re a social butterfly – your phone is constantly buzzing with invitations to parties, hang-outs, and dinners. But, as unlikely as it seems, all these outings may be harming your weight-loss progress. How so?
Well, social programs often involve eating out, and eating out usually involves breaking your diet rules, even if just for one, two, or three nights. However, don’t worry; you don’t have to stop seeing your friends altogether to get back on track.
According to a 2013 study from the University of Illinois, people who order together tend to eat similarly. So, when you do treat yourself to a night out with your friends, try challenging them to eat healthily well!
10. You’re not asking for help
Embarking on a weight loss journey can be a very personal thing, but several studies have shown that teaming up and asking for help from those around you can actually improve your results.
So, don’t be afraid to share your goals with your friends, your coworkers, your guy, and even your pooch. You may be surprised in finding they are doing the same, and you may even find a work-out buddy along the way!
Those are just a few reasons why you may not be seeing that stubborn belly fat go away. But the biggest might be one that can’t be fixed: time.
You might get frustrated scrolling on social media and thinking everyone else is dropping ten pounds per week. But don’t worry; everyone is different, and everyone’s weight-loss process is as well.
So, make sure you keep following all these rules, but, most importantly, be patient and kind to yourself. Keep going – you’ll get there!