10 Reasons

Why You Aren’t Losing Belly Fat

“I’m not fat. My stomach is just in 3D.”

Jarod Kintz

Ever wonder why your belly may still be wobbling about despite exercising and eating healthily for several months?

I did.

After 12 weeks of following an intensive online fitness program, my body started to reveal muscles I hadn’t seen in a long time. My biceps and triceps, which are normally very timid, started to make some curious appearances. My thighs were firming up. Even my glutes seemed to jiggle less when I jumped up and down.

When I first began the exercises, I was doing them to improve my fitness, my stamina, and to gain more energy and focus, not compete in the next bodybuilding competition. I wasn’t even looking for a ripped six-pack (although that would’ve been a nice bonus).

Despite being left with trembling knees, a pounding heart and a jelly body after every sweat sesh, I felt revived and energized, had more concentration and my sleep improved. Everything seemed to be positive with exercising, except one thing, which seemed to mystify me… I still carried a pouch around my mid-section.

For some reason, no matter how many eviction notices I sent out, how much I sweated or cranked up the intensity, I couldn’t seem to lose the saddle bags.

So, what the hell was going on? Why did it seem that every other muscle in my body responded to the exercises except my abs

I know, I know. Give myself more time. Three months isn’t enough. And belly fat is one of the hardest areas to tone. And having given birth twice, I was all too aware that my mummy tummy would never be the same again. I embraced my stretch marks and loose skin as badges of honour. But since high intensity and strength-training exercises weren’t helping to budge the bulge, I was determined to get to the bottom of it… literally!

Pinchable vs. Pressable Fat

Subcutaneous fat is found just below your skin. It’s the squishy fat that you squeeze when you pinch your belly.

Visceral fat is hidden deep in the belly which makes it firm (not squishy) when you press it. This intra-abdominal fat surrounds your internal organs to protect them. Carrying too much visceral fat can be dangerous and lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers.

Check Out These Reasons:

1. Lack of Sleep

Poor quality or short duration of sleep makes your body produce more ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel hungry) and less leptin (the hormone that makes you feel satiated). So despite taking care of your physical body, you need to take care of your mental state too. Sleep loss can sabotage your health and fitness goals.

Try this instead: Use meditation, yoga or tai chi to calm your mind. See #5 below for more suggestions.

2. Wrong Workouts

You can’t forcefully spot reduce fat in a specific location in the body no matter how many crunches you do. Ultimately, you want to do something that keeps your body moving, that you have fun doing and motivates you. Forget counting calories and enjoy the ride!

Try this instead: HIIT (high intensity interval training) works your entire body, keeps the blood flowing throughout and burns body fat more efficiently. Other activities may include jazzercize, dog walking, swim classes, indoor rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, skipping and jumping on the trampoline.

3. Sugar & Carbs

Eating foods containing sugar (glucose & fructose) and carbs raise insulin levels which get converted to fat.

Sugar is an addictive compound, notorious for causing inflammation, type 2 diabetes, obesity and havoc in the body. Hidden sugars are a big problem in our food today. Packaged, processed foods like cereals, crackers, tomato sauce can contain added sugars that tax the body’s organs and cells. These foods are usually high in calories and unhealthy fat

Six Ways To Break Your Sugar Addiction

Learn to read your labels. I know this is easier said than done, especially with over 56 names for sugar. But look to cut back or avoid ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, brown rice syrup and refined (white) grains, which all contain empty nutrients but spike your blood sugar levels and cause weight gain.

Try this instead: Opt for natural sugars in whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. The more whole foods you eat, the more you’ll enjoy them. Your taste buds will adapt as well. But be aware that some fruits like papaya, mango and pineapple are higher in natural sugars which for those with type 2 diabetes should be mindful about.

4. Stress

When you’re stressed, it raises the hormone cortisol. This increases the sugar in your blood which releases insulin. Too much insulin turns sugar into fat. And guess where that’s stored? Yep. In your belly.

Try this instead:

    • Practice mindful eating (put away the phone and turn off the TV)
    • Get a massage once or twice a month
    • Talk to someone about what’s stressing you
    • Practice yoga or meditation
    • Take ashwagandha (this herb helps to reset cortisol so it’s not too high or low during the day)
    • Listen to calming music
    • Read a good book
    • Limit alcohol and coffee
    • Drink green tea which contains L-theanine, an amino acid with reduces stress without causing drowsiness

5. Hormonal Imbalance

When your hormones are out of whack, your internal harmony is out of balance. This disruption can alter your body’s ability to break down fats and instead, store them.

To find out more about why hormones can cause weight gain, click here.

6. Not Enough Protein

Unlike carbs and fats, protein is a macronutrient not only needed for building muscles but also for hormones and enzymes. Protein fills you up faster so you need less food to be satisfied. Just ensure you make healthy protein food choices.

Try this instead:

Some healthy protein sources include:

Lentils, black beans, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, tofu, almonds, quinoa, spinach, cashews and oats.

7. Not Drinking Enough Water

Sometimes you may think you’re hungry when in fact, your body is dehydrated. Confusing the two may lead to eating more calories and weight gain.

Try this instead: Drink some water and then wait a few minutes and see how you feel. If you’re still hungry, then grab a healthy snack such as air-popped popcorn or a crunchy apple.

8. Trying Too Hard

Too much exercise can stress the body, raise cortisol levels, cause injuries and lead to overtraining syndrome. You don’t need to exercise every day. Your muscles need time to recover and repair in order to grow.

9. Expecting a Quick Fix

It takes time for your brain to rewire and develop new habits (up to 12 weeks). You can’t expect the metabolic changes that took place after years or decades, such as insulin resistance, fatty liver and carb dependence to reverse in just a few days, weeks or months. It’ll take as long as it takes for long-term results.

10. Loss of Motivation

If you aren’t seeing results, or you’ve plateaued, you may give up and resort back to your old ways. But don’t give up. If you take the time to find out what the root cause is, you can achieve your goal.

Try this instead:

  • Remind yourself of why you started this journey
  • Focus on getting stronger
  • Remind yourself how much better you will feel when you eat healthy
  • Set small, manageable goals
  • Prioritize making your workouts fun
  • Celebrate every single healthy choice as a success
  • Remind yourself of the progress you’ve already made
  • Remind yourself this is a lifestyle change, not just weight loss

Have you been exercising but failing to lose weight or belly fat? What are some possible reasons that are preventing you from


Dieter, Brad. “Protein and Weight Loss: How Much Protein Should You Eat to Lose Weight?” NASM2019, blog.nasm.org/nutrition/how-much-protein-should-you-eat-per-day-for-weight-loss.
Ashkenazi, Jarone. “6 Tips for Losing Weight on a Vegan Diet.” VegNews.com 6 June 2018, vegnews.com/2018/6/6-tips-for-losing-weight-on-a-vegan-diet.
Migala, Jessica. “Can Protein Help You Lose More Weight?” EatingWell, 2019, www.eatingwell.com/article/290618/can-protein-help-you-lose-more-weight/.
Elizabeth Scott, MS. “How Stress Can Cause Weight Gain.” Verywell Mind, 7 May 2020, www.verywellmind.com/how-stress-can-cause-weight-gain-3145088.
Bennett, Doug. “Can You Hurt Yourself by Working Out Every Day?” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 2018, www.livestrong.com/article/530496-can-you-hurt-yourself-by-working-out-every-day/.