Reasons You're Not Losing That Belly Fat

Excess belly fat is a common concern, but the repercussions go well beyond how comfortable you may or may not feel in a certain pair of jeans. In fact, carrying this extra weight around your waist can be a precursor to a vast array of health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and various types of cancers. And while you may be doing your best to shed those pesky midriff pounds, there are seven key factors that are undermining your efforts to win the "no belly" prize.

You\'re eating the wrong kinds of food

Diet is an important component of battling belly fat, and you may not realize that certain foods have a tendency to manifest themselves as fat around your midsection. One culprit is foods that are high in sodium, such as canned goods, salted snacks, and meats that have been smoked, cured, or processed. Another belly fattener is foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, including white bread, sugar, cakes, and cookies. Further, if you\'re loading up on foods that are high in saturated fats, such as cheese, cream, and fatty cuts of red meat, you\'re actually loading up your body with belly fat. Fortunately, there are quick and easy diet do-overs that can help you eliminate your belly fat blues, and that means making some simple adjustments to your eating routine. For example, swapping butter for olive oil, switching steak for salmon, and kissing your salt shaker goodbye are small changes that can make a big impact. If you give your meals a makeover, your body will soon follow suit.

You\'re doing the wrong exercises

You already know the important role that exercise plays when it comes to your weight and your health, and it\'s not surprising that it also plays a key part in combating a growing waistline. But many dedicated and devoted gym-goers are actually engaging in the wrong kinds of exercises when it comes to losing that stubborn belly fat. Cardio exercises, such as walking, running, and cycling are terrific workouts, but in order to truly combat belly fat, it\'s important to combine your cardio efforts with resistance training. The reason is due to the fact that increasing your muscle mass will help you burn more calories. So while you may be an elliptical enthusiast or a spinning superstar, make sure you also incorporate some strength training into your exercise program, such as squats, push-ups, weightlifting, and the use of resistance bands.

You\'re aging

Age is only a number, but it can definitely have a negative impact on the numbers on the scale. Since many people tend to slow down and become less active as they get older, this can contribute to a loss of muscle mass and add more fat to their bodies. Further, women are especially at risk of gaining weight around their midsection after they go through menopause. Studies have shown that the drop in estrogen levels in a woman\'s body ends up redistributing fat from her thighs and hips directly to her belly. If you\'re looking to combat this kind of undesirable shape-shifting, it\'s important that you continue to engage in cardio exercises, such as power walking, swimming, and biking, as well as strength training exercises. There\'s no reason why you can\'t be in gold medal shape during your golden years.

You\'re stressed out

Are you under a lot of stress? You\'re not alone. When you\'re constantly feeling overwhelmed and anxious, you may find yourself craving caloric and fattening foods. That\'s because when you\'re stressed, your body goes into \"fight or flight\" mode, and a hormone called cortisol gets released. Cortisol plays a key role in stress response, but as opposed to your prehistoric ancestors who dealt with sporadic stress, today\'s stress has become chronic, and that means your body\'s stress reaction doesn\'t shut off. In fact, it makes complete sense that you\'re craving foods that are the quickest sources of energy, namely those full of sugar and fat, because it\'s your body\'s way of replenishing and refueling from being stressed out. If you\'re someone who often experiences stress, remember this next time you feel the need to gorge on comfort foods. With this in mind, it\'s important to look for healthier ways to manage stress other than food, such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and most importantly, exercise.

You\'re sitting too much

How many hours do you spend sitting each day? The amount is likely higher than you thought, and the problem is that the health consequences of prolonged sitting can be dire, as I discussed in my book, Is Your Job Making You Fat? How to Lose the Office 15...and More! Not only is sitting for extended periods of time linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, back problems, and lower cognitive function, but sitting all day also tends to pack on the pounds, especially around your midsection. To that end, sitting suppresses a key enzyme that helps to remove fat from your blood. So in order to prevent protracted sitting from laying \"waist\" to your goal of losing belly fat, it\'s important to look for more opportunities to get up and get moving whenever possible throughout the day, whether it\'s taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking in a farther spot in the lot, and using a desk riser or standing desk. You have the power to take a stand against belly fat.

You\'re devouring diet soda

Sure, you may think you\'re saving on calories and dropping some pounds by choosing diet soda as your go-to drink. However, research has actually shown that the opposite may be true, especially when it comes to the weight that\'s found around your midsection. In fact, according to a study from the University of Texas Health and Science Center, the more diet soda you down each day, the more weight you\'ll gain around your belly. So instead of sticking with diet soda as your preferred beverage, it\'s time to look for the calorie-free alternative that has innumerable health and heart benefits. Although it may not be as enticing, the answer that\'s best for your well-being should be as clear as water.

You\'re not getting enough sleep

Being sleep deprived is a common problem facing so many people today, and while it\'s recommended to sleep for seven to nine hours each night, 40% of adults end up sleeping for six hours or less. Missing out on sleep is not only going to leave you feeling tired, rundown, and cranky, but research has shown that it actually puts your body at a greater risk of gaining body fat around your midsection. So if sleepless nights have become the norm, it\'s time to reassess your nightly routine. Make sleep a real priority so you can get the rest your body needs and get rid of what it doesn\'t need: belly fat. Turn down your sheets, turn off your phone, and turn off the lights. A good night\'s sleep doesn\'t have to be a pipe dream.