Belly fat: We’ve all got it (even if we don’t always flaunt that kind of thing). But the truth is, a little bit of belly fat is actually healthy. It acts as a protectant on your stomach, intestines, and other organs in your body.
That being said, not all belly fat is created equal. There’s subcutaneous fat, which is very visual; it’s the type of fat found in the arms and legs, and you can easily see that it’s there.
Then there’s visceral fat, which is found inside the abdominal cavity near certain organs. This is the type of fat you want to be vigilant about losing. Too much visceral fat can contribute to serious health issues, like heart disease and diabetes. It was also found to be linked to brain shrinkage, memory deficients, and dementia.
Belly fat sometimes seems like it’s there to stay, but it’s actually not that hard to lose. Unfortunately, there are some common misconceptions about losing belly fat that can get in the way of actually shedding the weight.
Here’s why you might not be losing that pesky extra fat around your stomach:
You’ve banned eating fat.
Many people think that eating fat means you become fat—but that simply isn’t true. It’s actually good to eat fat— just stick to monounsaturated fat, which is the “good” kind of fat. Saturated fats and trans fats are the ones linked to weight gain and other negative health effects. Foods like olive oil and other oils, avocados, nuts, and seeds contain monounsaturated fats.
You have a sweet tooth.
Added sugar is one of the worst things for your waistline. It can cause your blood sugar to spike, which triggers an overflow of insulin, a hormone that stimulates the creation of fat in your stomach. Always check your nutrition labels; sugar hides in the most unexpected places like tomato sauce, salad dressing, and peanut butter, and can show up in names like dextrose, glucose, and corn syrup.
You can’t quit your diet soda habit.
Even though it has “diet” in the title, diet soda is far from healthy. People who regularly drink diet soda are more likely to have a high percentage of belly fat, according to a study in the journal Obesity. Swap the pop for the healthiest drink of all: water! (Tip: Add fresh fruit or mint if you don’t love the bland taste of water.)
You’re not eating enough color.
Ever heard that the more colorful your meals, the healthier they are? Since most nutrient-dense vegetables are vibrant, there’s some truth to this. People who ate more of the leafy green veggies or produce that was orange or yellow had less abdominal fat than those who didn’t eat this type of produce, a study in the Journal of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found.
You’re not doing the right workouts.
It’s a terrible feeling when you work out multiple times a week and don’t see results. But it could be due to the type of workout you’re doing. A study published in the journal Obesity proved that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the most effective type of exercise to lose both subcutaneous and visceral belly fat. It’s also a very efficient way to work out (more intense = less time, but more calories burned).
You’re a beer drinker.
The term “beer belly” didn’t come out of nowhere. Beer can contribute to abdominal obesity, says a study published in Nutrition Reviews. Wine, however, was linked to a reduced risk of obesity, according to Harvard researchers (though take that with a grain of salt: we’re not recommending you drink a bottle a day or anything. Wine doesn’t automatically make you thin, it just might be the better choice).
While depression, or even just feeling blue, isn’t something you can decide on a whim to fix, it’s important to make steps towards healing. Women who had depressive symptoms are more likely to have extra belly fat, according to to a study at Rush University Medical Center. Stress and lack of sleep are also culprits of visceral fat. Talk to a mental professional if you’ve been feeling out of sorts for a while.
Do you think you could be a victim to one of these belly fat saboteurs? What’s your weakness when it comes to losing belly fat? Tell us in the comments below!