There are many reasons, some of which you can control and change, like the food you eat and the kind of exercise you do.
Losing stomach fat is important not just because of appearances. Excess abdominal fat, especially visceral fat which surrounds your organs and makes your stomach look like a "beer gut" can be a predictor of future diseases. This kind of fat can increase the chances of Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and some cancers. It's possible that you have been working out and are still not having success in losing as much belly fat as you want to. If that's the case, then your hormones, age, and other genetic factors could be stopping your fat loss, according to Time.com.
"To put it simply: it’s more difficult to shift belly fat because it has a higher amount of fat cells that don’t respond as easily to the fat-breakdown process (lipolysis)," said Dr. Luke James from Bupa UK to Cosmopolitan. When we consume more calories than our body requires it gets deposited as fat. There are two kinds of fat cells: alpha, and beta.
"When you’re actively trying to lose fat, you may see changes on your legs, face, and arms first because these areas have more alpha cells," said Dr. Luke. Areas like the hips, thighs, and belly have more beta cells, which makes it harder to lose weight from these areas.
Here are five other reasons that can be stopping you from losing belly fat:
There could be many causes of stress, including chores, paying bills, bringing up kids, your spouse, and more. When you have too much stress, it might get harder to lose those unwanted rounds of belly fat. In this case, your weight gain may not be connected to you opting for high-fat, high-calorie foods, but it can be a part of it. When the stress hormone cortisol increases in your body it can increase the amount of fat your body clings to. It can also enlarge your fat cells. When you have higher levels of cortisol, you are likely to have more visceral fat, as per Time.com. Eating right, sleeping on time, and working out can help you manage stress. You can also seek help from a mental health professional if these are not working out for you.
If you're not sleeping enough, it can make it harder to lose abdominal fat. A longterm study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology conducted on more than 70,000 women for over a period of 16 years showed that the women who slept five hours or less every night weighed 2.47kg more than those who slept at least seven hours. The weight gain happens because without sleep your body produces more ghrelin. This hormone triggers feelings of hunger and it can lead you to eat more. If you find it hard to fall asleep, you could try some guided meditations, or play some peaceful music or some background noise that is calming for you. You can also seek professional help if you are still plagued by insomnia.
Foods like white bread and rice are an integral part of our diets but carbohydrate-rich processed foods can make it harder to reduce your calorie intake as they have low satiety levels. You will feel hungry faster when you eat these foods and that will lead you to eat even more. Instead, try opting for whole grains as they are high in fiber, unlike processed grains. They also keep you feeling full for a longer time. You are less likely to opt for a midday snack then, according to Shape.com.
Getting older is not something any of us can control. Our bodies change when we get older and that includes how we gain or lose weight. Both men and women experience a reduction in metabolic rate, or the number of calories the body needs to function normally. Women also have to deal with menopause as they age. "If women gain weight after menopause, it’s more likely to be in their bellies," says Dr. Michael Jensen, professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic’s endocrinology division, to Time. During menopause, there is a reduction in the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Testosterone levels also go down even though it is at a slower rate. These changing levels of hormones can cause women to hold on to belly fat. There is a way to fight this process by changing our workouts and diet.
When it comes to reducing the waistline, just doing lots of cardio is not enough. "You need to do a combination of weights and cardiovascular training," Dr. Sangeeta Kashyap, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic told Time. You can opt for strength training since it increases muscle mass, which sets your body up to burn more fat. "Muscle burns more calories than fat, and therefore you naturally burn more calories throughout the day by having more muscle," Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic told the publication. Patton recommends 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 125 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week.