6 Reasons You Can't Lose Belly Fat and How To Fix It

A proper diet accompanied by regular physical exercise is the perfect combination to reduce the accumulation of belly fat and improve health.
6 Reasons You Can't Lose Belly Fat and How To Fix It
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Belly fat isn’t attractive or healthy, which is why it’s important to get rid of it using an appropriate strategy. This should include recommendations from both your doctor and a nutritionist so that you can achieve good results, without putting your health at risk.

An appropriate strategy doesn’t consist of going on a specific diet, or drinking warm water with lemon on an empty stomach, or doing five sets of sit-ups a week, or wearing a girdle. And it’s not about going for a seven-mile run one day and then not exercising again for two months.

Have you ever wanted to get rid of belly fat, but haven’t succeeded? If so, you may have been doing more than one thing wrong. Keep in mind that losing weight and working your body isn’t something you do from one day to the next. You have to be consistent, above all by adopting and maintaining good lifestyle habits.

Can’t lose your belly fat? These are some of the possible reasons:

The reasons why you can’t lose weight can be varied. Here’s a list of some.

A woman squeezes fat on her legs.

1. You may not be doing the right exercises

If you just can’t lose that belly fat, you may not be doing the right exercises for it, or at least not often enough to get results.

Sometimes it’s not enough to go for a half hour walk once every 5, 7 or 10 days, to go swimming once in the summer, to go dancing, to do one yoga session per week….

  • All these activities are healthy but, in order to be effective, you have to do them regularly.
  • In addition to alternating them, it’s a good idea to do focused exercises several times a week to eliminate belly fat.

Keep in mind that the most effective way to burn fat is to do high-intensity interval exercise. This was confirmed by a study published in Obesity Reviews.

2. You have a lot of stress that you don’t manage properly

This is important because not everyone thinks about it, takes it into account, or pays attention to it. Chronic stress, if not managed well, can alter your metabolism and increase the level of cortisol in your blood.

“Stress is one of the causes of weight gain. High levels of cortisol in the blood and inside the cells cause fat retention, especially in the abdominal area, and fluid retention. You’ll feel increased cravings for foods high in sugar, fats and carbohydrates. The imbalance of sugar in the blood creates a mechanism that can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes,” say experts from the AARP Foundation.

3. You eat too much processed food

If you think eating lettuce all week at lunchtime, but then eating fast food for dinner… this may be why you’re having a hard time getting rid of belly fat. This is also possible if all the vegetables you cook come frozen in a bag and you fry them.

In order to lose weight, you need to avoid junk food in general, but also white bread, crackers, chips, anything rich in refined sugar, and carbonated or sweetened beverages. In short, all those snacks and industrial foods that provide nothing but salt, sugar and empty calories.

Keep in mind that the trans fats contained in these foods have been shown to cause obesity and inflammation.

4. You think you should eliminate every kind of fat from your diet

There are people who decide that they won’t eat any fat in order to help themselves lose weight. But they end up eliminating many foods that would actually help them burn their belly fat.

Some fats are good, such as monounsaturated fats.  This kind of fat has anti-inflammatory properties and can help you take care of your heart and bring down your weight.

Here are some examples:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Fatty fish (like salmon)

5. You don’t get enough sleep

A woman looking at her phone at night.
Using your bedroom for work or study activities makes it harder to sleep at night.

Here’s a piece of info that you should stick into your brain: sleeping less than 6 hours a day is bad for your health and psychological well-being, according to a study published in Obesity. If you go 2-3 consecutive months sleeping 5-6 hours a day, this might be why you can’t lose belly fat. If your goal is to be healthy and maintain a healthy weight, make sure you get enough sleep every day. Likewise, it’s important that you learn to maintain a proper sleep routine so that you really get the most out of your rest.

6. You have bad posture

If you exercise, but don’t have good posture at rest, you may have a harder time getting rid of belly fat. Therefore, try to adopt and maintain correct posture in each of the activities you do. This means that you should walk with your back straight, watch your posture when lifting objects, performing different movements, while sitting, etc.

Tips for losing belly fat and getting in better shape

As we pointed out at the beginning: achieving a firm, smooth belly with less fat volume requires an appropriate strategy, maintained consistently over time.

You can tell yourself simple things like: “I’m losing weight” (instead of “I want to lose weight”) or “I’m proud of the effort I’m making” (instead of “I’m going to work hard”). This can help keep you motivated and on track.

A girl eating healthy food.
Eating slowly is one of the best ways to avoid feeling gassy.

Once you’ve changed your mindset, you can focus on specific things to help you lose belly fat. Here are some things to start working on now:

  • Start the day with a glass of water. You can drink sage tea during the day.
  • Manage stress.
  • Sleep between 7-9 hours a day.
  • Do aerobic and muscle-building exercises
  • Don’t skip meals.
  • Eat fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines.
  • Make sure you eat enough fiber, but not too much.
  • Try to eat protein from sources indicated by your doctor and nutritionist.
  • Eliminate alcohol, refined sugar and trans fats from your diet. Replace the latter with monounsaturated fats.
  • Eliminate ultra-processed and industrial foodstuffs from your diet. Give priority to fresh foods.
  • Eat probiotic foods regularly instead of flavored yogurts and added sugar.

Improve your habits in order to lose belly fat.

All these guidelines can help you lose belly fat and also improve your health and wellbeing. Keep in mind that progress will be slow and consistency is key.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Wewege M., Berg R., Ward RE., Keech A., The effects of high intensity interval training vs moderate intensity continuous training on body composition in overweight and obese adults: a systematic review and meta analysis. Obes Rev, 2017. 18 (6): 635-646.
  • Ginter E., Simko V., New data of harmful effects of trans fatty acids. Bratils Lek Listy, 2016. 117 (5): 251-3.
  • Patel, S. R., & Hu, F. B. (2008). Short sleep duration and weight gain: A systematic review. Obesity. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2007.118

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.