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Why Can't I Lose Weight From My Stomach?

author image Jessica Bruso
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.
Why Can't I Lose Weight From My Stomach?
Exercise and eating healthy will help to lose extra tummy weight. Photo Credit PhotoAlto/Alix Minde/PhotoAlto Agency RF/Getty Images

No one certain method can help you spot reduce and lose weight just from your stomach. To lose excess tummy weight, you'll need to lose ounces all over. However, you can take some steps to help make it easier to lose this weight and decrease stomach fat.

Calories and Weight Loss

You need to eliminate about 500 calories per day from your diet to lose about 1 pound per week. If you've tried to cut calories and you're still not losing weight, you could be getting either too many or too few calories.

You don't want to go too low in calories, as men who eat fewer than 1,800 calories per day and women who eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day may end up adversely affecting their metabolism and making it even harder to lose weight.

It's also possible that you're eating more calories than you realize, so being extra careful with portion sizes may help. Dividing one-half of your plate equally between whole grains and lean protein foods, with the other half devoted to fruits and vegetables, can help you get the right amount of each type of food for a nutritious diet. Eating the vegetables first will help fill you up, as their high water and fiber content makes them bulky even though they aren't high in calories.

Importance of Cardio for Stomach Weight Loss

Sit-ups and other abdominal exercises help tone the muscles in your stomach, but they don't get rid of the fat that's covering them up. For this, you'll need to lose weight. Getting 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week may help with weight loss. Thankfully, exercise-induced weight loss actually appears to preferentially target abdominal fat, according to a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 2003.

Strength Training and Weight Loss

Aim for at least two strength-training sessions per week -- targeting all of the major muscles in the body, not just the abs. Strength training helps to increase your muscle mass, which assists in improving your metabolism and makes it more likely any weight loss comes from fat instead of muscle. Without strength training workouts, about 25 percent of any weight you lose will come from muscle.

Dietary Changes for Increased Stomach Fat Loss

You can make a number of dietary changes, including trading certain foods for others that may help improve abdominal fat loss. For example, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2009 found that substances called catechins in green tea help enhance abdominal fat loss due to exercise. Swap out sugar-sweetened beverages and other high-calorie beverages for green tea, water or another non-caloric beverage.

Increase your intake of lean proteins, which tend to be particularly filling. Diets that are high in protein also help to improve abdominal fat loss, according to another study published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases in 2009. Eggs, fish, skinless poultry and legumes are all nutritious lean proteins.

Don't forget the healthy fats. Your body needs some fat to function properly. Trade out foods high in unhealthy saturated fat, such as sausage and cream-based sauces, for those containing monounsaturated fats, including nuts, olive oil and avocado. A study published in Diabetes Care in 2007 found that a diet high in these fats helped keep fat from being deposited in the abdominal area.

Other Considerations That Could Interfere With Weight Loss

A number of other factors could interfere with weight loss, including stress or lack of sleep. Certain medications can also make it hard to lose weight, including diabetes medications, drugs for depression, birth control pills and corticosteroids. Some health problems can have this effect as well, such as menopause, low thyroid and Cushing syndrome. Check with your doctor to see if you have a medical condition that is making it harder for you to lose weight.

What It Takes to Get Six-Pack Abs

If in addition to losing your belly, you want six-pack abs, making a few simple changes to your diet and exercising a bit more probably aren't going to be enough. To do so, men typically need to get their body fat down to less than 9 percent, and women need to reduce theirs to below 19 percent. This isn't easy and usually requires a very strict diet and sometimes multiple hours of exercise each day, leaving little time for other hobbies or for socializing. It also makes it difficult to eat any meals away from home that you don't bring yourself.

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