Nutrition Weight Management

Why Losing Belly Fat Is Challenging – Reasons, Methods & Tips 2024

So you’ve decided to tackle that bulging belly. No matter how hard you try, it seems impossible to lose the belly fat. You’ve tried everything, but it just won’t go away. This indicates that you have an excess of visceral fat, which surrounds your vital organs and causes your abdomen to swell into a ‘beer belly’. Unbeknownst to many, excess fat is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and several types of cancer.

If you feel that all exercise and diet strategies have failed, consider these 5 fat reducing supplements. Read on to identify potential mistakes and correct them immediately.

Why Can't I Lose My Belly Fat?

Of course, the answer to this common question isn't limited to a single factor. There are many reasons that can thwart your dedicated efforts to eliminate stubborn belly fat. Here are a few:

  • You eat too many processed foods.
  • You neglect cardio (aerobic exercise).
  • Stress is an issue.
  • Age is a factor.
  • You choose regular cooking oils over coconut oil.
  • Apple cider vinegar isn't part of your diet.
  • Your exercise is limited to the gym.
  • Your sleep is inadequate.
  • You're too dependent on the scale.
  • Your alcohol intake is high.

Is Having Too Much Belly Fat A Health Risk?

Yes, excess belly fat is a significant health risk. It’s been linked to serious conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Belly fat, especially visceral fat around the organs, is more harmful than fat in other areas. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle to reduce these risks.

Why Can’t I Reduce Belly Fat?

1. Your Diet Contains Too Many Refined Foods

Reducing your intake of unhealthy snacks will help you lose fat and burn more calories. A daily diet of less than 50 grams of carbohydrates can be effective in reducing abdominal fat in overweight people, women with PCOS and those at risk of type 2 diabetes. However, it may not be necessary to follow a low-carb diet all the time. Studies show that replacing processed foods with whole, natural foods such as vegetables, legumes and grains can significantly reduce belly fat and improve metabolic health.

2. You’re Not Doing Any Cardiovascular (Aerobic) Activity

Even if you’re a frequent exerciser, it’s likely that your approach to aerobic exercise isn’t optimal. Developing an effective cardio programme serves as a strategic method for losing excess weight and overcoming challenges.

Incorporating aerobic exercise into your daily routine accelerates calorie burning while promoting a healthier weight. Recent research suggests that aerobic exercise is one of the most effective types of exercise to incorporate into a vigorous exercise plan. However, the jury is still out on moderate- or high-intensity resistance training for weight loss.

3. You’re Under Stress

It may seem unlikely, but it’s true. Stress contributes to an increase in visceral fat by activating the adrenal glands, which release the stress hormone cortisol. Studies show that increased stress levels correlate with increased appetite and an increase in abdominal fat storage.

In addition, women with larger waists tend to have higher levels of cortisol under stress. These increased cortisol emissions further contribute to weight gain, especially around the waist. To help you lose weight, watch your calorie intake at each meal and engage in stress-reducing activities such as meditation or yoga.

4. You’re Getting Older

A noticeable belly is likely to develop as you age, regardless of your overall body weight. Older adults metabolise the energy in their fat cells more slowly and less effectively than younger people. Women, in particular, tend to gain weight with age, partly due to menopause, which causes body fat to accumulate more around the abdomen. Increased visceral fat in women over 60 isn’t a major problem.

The challenges of losing weight shouldn’t stop you from continuing to exercise and eat healthily. Continue strength training to prevent obesity and related problems.

5. Cooking With Fats Vs Oils

Opt for coconut or olive oil instead. Research shows that replacing harmful cooking fats with coconut oil reduces calorie consumption and belly fat. This effect is due to the saturated fats found in coconut oil. One particular study compared men who consumed coconut oil with those who didn’t, and the results were remarkable. Men who consumed coconut oil daily for 12 weeks saw their waistlines shrink by 1.1 inches without changing their diet or exercise habits.

If you are making the switch, be aware that coconut oil is high in calories. It’s best to use it sparingly to avoid storing belly fat.

6. You Haven’t Included Apple Cider Vinegar In Your Diet

Apple Cider Vinegar

How often do you take apple cider vinegar? If you’re taking it less often than recommended, you’re missing out on some remarkable benefits. Apple cider vinegar is rich in acetic acid, a compound that has been shown in animal studies to reduce the accumulation of visceral fat.

Start by consuming about 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily. In a 12-week study of obese men, those who consumed a daily serving of apple cider vinegar reduced their abdominal fat by nearly half an inch. Always mix it with water before consumption to avoid the risk of tooth enamel erosion caused by undiluted vinegar.

7. You Only Work Out At The Gym

While the gym is an excellent place to reduce body fat, it shouldn’t be your only choice. Challenge yourself to exercise anytime, anywhere. For example, try doing ten or more calf raises in the morning or before work. There are plenty of opportunities to exercise – in the park, at home, even in the shower. Examples of high-intensity interval exercises include

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • push-ups

Whatever type of vigorous exercise you choose and wherever you do it, make sure you stick to a regular routine. Keep up the weightlifting and nutritious eating and you will soon see significant improvements in your blood glucose levels.

8. The Importance Of Getting Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial to losing belly fat. Research shows that people who sleep less than six hours a night are prone to weight gain, especially around the abdomen. Health professionals recommend at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night. It’s also important to get a good quality of sleep. A study of 68,000 women showed that those who slept less than four hours a night were more likely to gain weight than those who slept six hours or more.

Did you know that not getting enough sleep can lead to sleep apnoea? This disorder causes you to stop breathing intermittently throughout the night and can contribute to weight gain. If your job is preventing you from getting enough sleep, consider a career change that will not affect your sleep quality or duration.

9. You’re Tied To The Scale

Scales can be deceiving. You may think you are making progress in reducing body fat, but the numbers can change unpredictably when you least expect it. Both digital and traditional scales often give inaccurate readings, making it seem like you are far from achieving your belly fat goals.

A key reason for scale variability is muscle mass. It may come as a surprise, but muscle is significantly heavier than fat. If you start an intensive fitness programme, your weight may actually increase despite a visible reduction in abdominal fat. To avoid unnecessary frustration, avoid using scales to monitor your progress. Instead, opt for taking pictures and keeping a log of your journey.

10. Your Alcohol Intake Is Excessive

Frequent excessive alcohol consumption often leads to abdominal weight gain, commonly referred to as “beer belly”. Research in Epidemiology and Health has shown that a high alcohol intake is strongly correlated with a larger waist size. Given the calorific value of alcohol, this isn’t unexpected.

Excessive drinking also interferes with the body’s natural ability to efficiently reduce belly fat. The body prioritises converting alcohol into energy, delaying the burning of stored fat. The remedy? Reduce your alcohol intake. It is advisable to limit yourself to one drink a day. Alcohol can be beneficial in modest amounts, but harmful in larger doses.

How Fast Can I See Results?

The rate of belly fat loss varies from person to person and depends on factors such as diet, exercise intensity, genetics and overall health. In general, a safe and sustainable rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. With a healthy diet and regular exercise, especially core strengthening activities, you may start to see changes within a few weeks. However, it’s important to set realistic expectations and understand that this is a gradual process. Talking to a healthcare professional can provide personalised advice and guidance.

What Role Does Genetics Play In Losing Belly Fat?

Genetics play an important role in how and where our bodies store fat, including belly fat. Some people are genetically predisposed to store more fat around the abdomen. This trait can be influenced by factors such as metabolic rate, fat distribution patterns and hormone levels, all of which are partly determined by genetics.

But genetics is not the only factor. Lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and stress management also have a significant impact on the ability to lose belly fat. So while genetics may determine certain tendencies, it does not determine the outcome, which can be influenced by lifestyle changes.

What Are The Benefits Of Losing Belly Fat?

Losing belly fat has several health benefits. It reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. It also improves metabolic health by improving insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels. In addition, losing belly fat can improve sleep quality, reduce back pain by relieving pressure on the spine, and improve respiratory function.

Psychologically, it improves self-esteem and body image. It’s important to note that these benefits go beyond physical appearance and contribute significantly to overall health and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is belly fat harder to lose than fat in other areas?

Belly fat, particularly visceral fat, is more stubborn due to its proximity to the liver, which influences metabolism and insulin resistance. This makes it more challenging to lose compared to subcutaneous fat located in other body areas.

Can diet alone help me lose belly fat?

While diet plays a crucial role, combining healthy eating with regular exercise is more effective for losing belly fat. Focusing solely on diet may lead to weight loss but not necessarily targeted belly fat reduction.

Are there specific foods that contribute to belly fat?

Foods high in sugars, trans fats, and refined carbs can contribute to increased belly fat. Processed foods and sugary beverages are notable culprits.

Is it possible to target belly fat with specific exercises?

While you can’t target fat loss in specific areas, including abdominal exercises in your fitness routine can strengthen the core muscles and improve the appearance of your belly.

How does age affect the ability to lose belly fat?

As you age, your metabolism slows down and muscle mass decreases, making it harder to lose fat, including belly fat.


If you find that your belly fat isn’t disappearing, consider these simple suggestions. It’s also important to be aware of the likely causes mentioned above and address them immediately. As you may know, belly fat contributes to risky health problems such as stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, breast cancer, colon cancer, etc. If you’re committed to your goals of losing belly fat, making small changes to your daily habits shouldn’t be a problem!


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By Jayson Peterson

Jayson Peterson is an experienced pharmacist, naturopathic physician, medical examiner, and minister. After earning his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Medical University of South Carolina, Jayson Peterson completed clinical rotations at several prestigious healthcare institutions and has been affiliated with several pharmacy chains throughout his career. His main passion and zeal is focused on providing world-class patient care by giving precise details and thorough instructions to those who need it most.