Why Can’t I Get Rid of My Belly Fat?

May 19, 2023 mindpump

The most common place most people want to lose weight and body fat is in their midsection. And unfortunately, it is usually the hardest place to see the most progress when it comes to weight-loss.

A common myth to get sculpted abs and lose inches around your waist is to do hundreds of crunches, but that is honestly not going to get you there. You may be focusing on the wrong things, so let’s go over how we can get rid of that belly fat, for good.

Your Nutrition Isn’t Dialed In 

Do all the exercises you want, but you will never get rid of that belly fat if your nutrition is poor. This can seem relative, so let’s go over what I mean by poor nutrition.

  • You rarely eat whole foods. Whole foods would be nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, dairy, and protein sources that contain minimal ingredients, typically less than four or five. Ideally, you want a majority of your foods to not be processed at all–this is optimal for overall health.
  • Soda and junk food are a normal part of your diet. Junk food would be considered heavily processed items that are usually found in a box or bag.
  • Vegetables rarely make it on your plate.
  • Protein intake is less than .8 to 1 gram per kilogram of body weight, per day.
  • You don’t drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
  • Portion sizes are too big, especially when it comes to starchy food items like pasta and bread.
  • Macronutrients aren’t balanced, meaning you are not around 50% of total calories from carbohydrates, 30% from fat, and 20% from protein.

Believe it or not, you need to be relatively consistent with all of these factors if you want to start seeing a flatter stomach. Obviously, you can’t be perfect all the time. If you can honestly say that you hit these marks about 80% of the time, you’re on the right track!

If you are lacking in one of these areas, now is the time to start making changes. You can’t out-train a bad diet.

You’re Trying to Spot Reduce Belly Fat

Everyone loses fat differently, and it is out of our control how it lost. What we can do is build muscle in certain areas of our body, but getting stronger doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose body fat. Your core muscles will get bigger and stronger, but not smaller, quite similar to every other muscle that develops in the body. A strong, stable core is definitely something to strive for, but if the only thing you’re doing is tons of core exercises, your waist may not get as small as you’d like. If you want more information on how to develop a strong core, you can read more about that here.  

So should you stop doing core exercises? Absolutely not. But what I would recommend is to implement all muscle groups into your routine throughout the week. Better yet, complete unilateral exercises during your upper and lower body workouts, so you can target your core even further. Just remember, gaining strength in your core won’t do much for your waistline if your nutrition sucks (see my first point) and you’re stressed, which I’ll touch on next.

Your Stress Levels Are Through the Roof

When we are stressed or have chronic anxiety, it is very common to start storing body fat in our abdominal region.  

Cortisol can maintain at chronically higher levels when we are stressed. Elevated levels of cortisol are normal, like when we are working out, or in a “fight-or-flight” situations. In fact, cortisol is a very important hormone that helps regulate numerous processes in our bodies, like our metabolism and overall hormonal health. Severely low levels of cortisol during extremely high stress situations can actually be very dangerous, and can cause low blood pressure and low glucose levels.

So, how is cortisol related to how we store body fat?

High cortisol levels leave a negative impact on our metabolism, and encourage cravings for sugary foods. It is during this time that the body becomes more insulin-resistant, meaning your pancreas is working overtime to pump more insulin into the body to control blood sugar. Essentially, your body would not be in an optimal state to control blood sugars levels. 

Aim to get 7–9 hours of quality sleep, move daily by taking walks and getting in your workouts, and find ways to reduce stress throughout the day, like breathing exercises, reading breaks, or stretching.  

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