How Many Calories to Lose Weight? – Here is Why Your Belly Fat Isn’t Going Away
The abs are, unfortunately, some of the hardest muscles to tone in the body. The midsection is the first place most people, particularly women, store weight.
“People think targeting just the abs and doing thousands of crunches will help them reach their goals,” Joey Gonzalez, CEO and trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp, says.
“However, since it’s such a difficult spot, targeting the abs requires diet discipline, cardio for fat burning, and strength training for your entire body, not JUST your abs.”
Crunches are not the best option because they put too much pressure on your neck and lower back. That’s why they are one of the exercises doctors will never do.
Other culprits, some of which are surprising, are soft drinks, which are slowly killing you, low-fat diets, eating too few carbs, neglecting strength training, and lack of sleep, which leads to weight gain in many ways.
1. YOU CAN’T STAY AWAY FROM CARBONATED DRINKS
“A flat stomach with visible abs cannot be achieved if poor eating habits are in place,” Gonzalez says. “Anything carbonated will produce unwanted bloat.” In a study conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, people who drank two or more diet sodas a day had waist sizes that were six times bigger than those who didn’t drink diet soda (which is in some ways even worse then regular soda).
2. PROCESSED FOODS ARE YOUR WEAKNESS
“Any processed foods, particularly those that are high in saturated fat and sugar, should be avoided if you want to shed pounds around your middle,” Gonzalez says. Processed foods have a lot of sodium which leads to fluid retention. For this reason, many trainers never eat this kind of food. It can also have a lot of Trans fats. Labels are allowed to round down Trans fats grams to 0 if they have less than 0.5g per serving, but most people eat more than what they determine a serving is.
3. YOU HAVE NOT CUT ALCOHOL
Studies link alcohol consumption to bigger waists because when you drink booze, the liver burns alcohol instead of fat. Booze also has a lot of sugar. Losing weight depends on many factors, but calories in vs. calories out are a huge component. Keep it less than 10 percent of your calories for the day, Joey Gochnour, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer at Nutrition and Fitness Professional, LLC, says. That is usually one drink for women and two for men.
4. YOU’RE NOT DOING ENOUGH CARDIO
“Cardio must be implemented in order to eliminate excess fat around the abdomen,” Gonzalez says. There really is no way around it. You have to sweat. “It could take 6-8 weeks of rigorous high-intensity exercise combining cardio and weight lifting, as we do at Barry’s Bootcamp, to see results,” he adds. He recommends mountain climbers, jack knives (both weighted and without weights), toe touches, table top to reverse pike, Russian twists (both weighted and without weights). You have options in case you hate running.
5. YOU THINK CRUNCHES ARE ENOUGH
“Crunches just don’t cut it when it comes to reaching every area of the abdomen,” Gonzalez says. “Furthermore, people tend to exhibit poor form with crunches which can lead to potential neck injuries, back pain (read about its other surprising causes) and can be an overall waste of time.” You can get flat abs without a single crunch. The bird dog, hanging ab machine, dead bug, the hundred, and a hollow hold are a few examples.
6. YOU NEGLECT STRENGTH TRAINING
“The biggest misconception people have is that cardio is more important than strength training,” Yvette Salva, personal trainer and founder of Yvette Salva Fitness, says. “Strength training is where you will increase your metabolism by adding more muscle to your frame. When you have more muscle, you burn more calories. So strength training should be a priority just as much as cardio.”
7. YOU’RE NOT DOING FAT-BURNING EXERCISES
“You can do all the exercises in the world, but if you’re not burning fat, you won’t get those flat abs,” Jill Brown, personal trainer, fitness instructor and a wellness coach, says. If you don’t burn the calories you consume, they will be stored as fat. Don’t forget that the abdominals include many interconnected muscles that run up the back and stretch down to the glutes (strengthen those muscles) and the thighs.
8. YOU FOLLOW A LOW-FAT DIET
A study found that participants who were on a low-carb diet lost about 10 pounds more than those who were on a low-fat diet. Other research has shown that monounsaturated fat rich diets prevent central body fat distribution. Low-carb diets can be some of the worst things you’re putting your body through. So eat monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) coming from nuts, avocado, olive oil and fish.
9. YOU DON’T EAT ENOUGH CARBS
If you want to lose belly fat, or fat in general, you should work out as many muscle groups as possible,” Gochnour says. Carbs are stored in the muscles and if you don’t have enough, they will deplete, he adds. Carbs are what the muscles use for energy. Between 45 and 65 percent of your daily calorie intake should come from healthy carbs.
10. YOU’RE SITTING TOO MUCH
In a study on weight gain and loss, where every aspect of diet and exercise was controlled in a lab, the researchers added 1,000 calories to all of the subjects’ daily diets. None of the people were permitted to exercise, but some people in the study were able to maintain their weight, while others gained weight. Those who maintained their weight did so by unintentionally moving more throughout the day. Sitting can be literally shortening your life.
YOU DON’T DRINK GREEN TEA
If you’re having trouble shedding the extra pounds off your waistline, try green tea. It has a lot of antioxidants, called catechins. They help burn more fat during exercise, according to a medical review. One of the catechins, the EGCG, boosts metabolism. Cells break down more fat, which is then available for energy use.