Losing Belly Fat: 5 Reasons Why It’s Hanging On
Everywhere you look, you see good looking guys rocking almost no body fat. Low body fat percentage has become an ideal standard for men in the United States and most of the Western world. Everyone is looking for a way to start losing body fat and turning heads our way!
Men’s bodies spent ages developing efficient ways to store fat, burn fewer calories and fend off starvation while hunting for food and making sure we weren’t made into a meal! It makes sense why it can be so hard to lose our belly fat, but that’s hardly consolation when you look in the mirror.
If you are having a problem losing that stubborn fat, here’s five reasons that could be the cause.
You’re Doing Too Much Cardio
Most people think to get a good fat burning workout they need to go on a long run. Yes, we are designed to run, but not for long bouts of time.
Running and other cardio exercises should be limited to short bursts, 30 minutes at the most. Running at a steady state over extended periods of time has been shown to increase cortisol, decrease human growth hormone, and suppress hormones that are needed to burn fat.
Long bouts of cardio can also cause the body to go into a catabolic state, where it uses muscle for fuel. When you lose muscle, it decreases your metabolism and muscle is what keeps the fat burning furnace going! This is two strikes against you that are hard to overcome, especially needlessly.
You’re Skipping Protein
For your body to perform basic chemical reactions that allow things like oxygen exchange (breathing), you need the right amino acids that are stored in the body’s muscle tissue.
These amino acids are the building blocks for the body, helping to add muscle mass, which helps to burn additional fat. If you’re skipping out on protein to save a few calories, you’re forcing your body to use its own muscle tissue to fuel basic metabolic processes. Not only is your body in a catabolic state, it doesn’t have the extra protein needed to repair muscle tissue after a good workout.
Even if you don’t eat meat, you need to make sure you are getting protein after every workout via protein powder. There is a large selection of protein powders on the market that will satisfy anyone’s taste and wallet. The main point is to get at least the minimum protein grams per day for your body weight to see the results you’re working so hard for!
You’re Not Eating Enough
Chronic under eating is typical on any diet. Many men don’t look at trying to change their body composition, they just see the number on the scale. This is the first place we usually go wrong and sabotage our fat-losing efforts.
According to My Fitness Pal, under eating can slow your metabolism, cause muscle loss (sound familiar?), and under eating puts you at risk for nutrient deficiencies. These nutrients help to support your body and your efforts to lose that dangerous belly fat.
Dieting causes your metabolism to slow, which means you have to eat even less to “lose weight,” which causes your metabolism to slow. This becomes a vicious cycle in which your weight loss efforts suffer. See how this downward spiral can be counterproductive? As important as it is not to consume too many calories, it can be just as harmful to your system to eat too few.
Instead of trying to eat less, focus on food quality and trying to build muscle. Muscle burns fat and is more compact than fat. It will give you that fit aesthetic you’re looking for, even if you don’t actually lose any fat. A pound of muscle is much denser than a pound of fat, so you will notice your body composition changing more than the numbers on the scale.
Avoiding The Weights
Men’s Fitness magazine highlights lifting weights as one of the fastest ways to build muscle, and thus burning fat. Testosterone is also a major factor in muscle building, which makes it easier for men to build much that needed muscle.
During the process of working out with weights, small tears develop in your muscle fibers. While you rest, your body repairs these fibers, causing muscle growth. Again, more muscles burn more fat. Therefore, this fear is no reason to avoid the weight room, where you can build the muscle that will burn more of that unwanted belly fat.
A Prevention magazine article noted that stress is one of the major factors in why people aren’t losing belly fat. Stress releases a hormone called cortisol and it does many things in the body during stressful times, including slowing digestion and increasing the body’s ability to store fat.
Stress can also cause emotional eating, which helps to take back any gains that you have picked up through dieting and exercise. How many of us can blame our weight gains on emotional eating? When we do not have control of our stress, cortisol takes over and most of the time our diets are the last thing we think about!
Unfortunately, many of us live in a chronic stress environment. If you seem to be doing everything right and still not losing weight, then you should check out your stress levels and try to reduce them. This can be as simple as taking a quiet walk in the evenings, going for a workout, meditating, or just a phone call to friends!