If you're dreaming of a flat, toned midriff, you may be putting in overtime at the gym -- running, biking, climbing and crunching your way to a better belly. Despite your hard work, you're seeing the fat melt away in other areas without shrinking your stomach. There are several reasons you might be struggling to exercise away that stubborn belly fat.
Targeted Weight Loss
Exercise burns calories, which in turn gets rid of fat in your body. Fat can cling to your belly, arms, hips, thighs and buttocks, but it's not so easy to zap fat just where you want it to disappear. You can't pick and choose where and how your body burns away fat, so you can't assume that even vigorous exercise will get rid of belly fat. But the more you exercise and the more fat you lose, the more likely it is that your belly fat will eventually be burned away.
Menopause and Aging
Women in particular may struggle with working off belly fat. Changes in hormone levels as women age, and particularly hormonal changes caused by menopause, increase fat in the abdomen and make it tougher to lose. Slowing metabolism leads to more fat and post-menopausal body changes push fat into the belly area.
Lack of Toning Exercises
If your body weight and BMI are healthy but your belly still seems flabby, maybe you're focusing on the wrong type of exercises. Aerobic or cardiovascular exercises help burn off fat, but strengthening exercises tone and firm muscles. Do ab-specific exercises like the Plank and bicycle crunches; along with Yoga and Pilates to help tone and tighten your core. Perform your toning exercises every second day; or yoga every day.
If you can't put away that spare tire for good, the foods you eat could be responsible. Even with exercise, you have to create a calorie deficit in order to burn fat. Cutting 500 calories a day is a good start; but never drop more than a 1000 calories from your diet. You need lean proteins, fiber-rich foods and healthy fats if you're exercising. Restrict alcohol and sugar, fill up on fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds for snacks and choose whole-grain products instead of processed white flour foods.