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You work out, you eat right, you do everything you’re told is needed to achieve that elusive flat stomach. And yet you never quite get there. There could be many reasons why you’re not losing belly fat.

It could be genetics, lack of sleep, wrong workout, too much processed food, health issues like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), thyroid issues or a slow digestive system. Bloating, which happens as we age, is also a major issue.

Why is belly fat so hard to lose?

It’s sort of nature’s cruel joke on us. As you may already be painfully aware of, when you put on weight, the body first starts storing fat around the hips, thighs and essential belly area. Once these areas fill up, outward areas like the arms and feet get fuller.

For its survival, the body protects vital organs like the stomach in times of disaster. That’s why, when we start a workout routine, fat from your arms and legs are the first to go. Only gradually do you start losing fat in the shoulders and thighs. Finally, after the remote fats melt away, the body starts using up belly fat.

So what is an excellent strategy for the body’s survival becomes a curse when you’re hoping to achieve a flat stomach.

Remember, the body stores fat in the ‘first-in, last-out’ order. That’s why, when we start working out, the belly is the last to go and when we stop the workouts, it’s the belly that’s the first to show!

Can exercise eliminate belly fat?

Sit-ups, crunches and other abdominal exercises strengthen your core muscles and help you hold in your belly fat but won’t help eliminate it.

The only way to lose belly fat is to lose weight. So, aerobic exercises like swimming, running, cycling and tennis are much more effective in melting body fat and will help you keep it off longer than if you focus on diet alone.

My belly looks bigger before or after my periods. How do I avoid this?

You may have an iron deficiency. Lack of iron cause cravings, which in turn leads to weight gain.

You could start by strategizing your eating plans. Divide your meals into small portions. Try to eat every 2 hours. This way you’ll neither be too hungry nor too full.

To beat bloating during periods, try to sip more liquids and snack more on whole foods like fruits, cucumbers, carrot sticks, nuts, whole grains etc.

Which foods prevent a bloated belly?

One of the reasons for a bloated belly could be a slow digestive system. To solve this, your regular diet should be a healthy combination of soluble and insoluble fibers. Start each morning with a good cereal breakfast for the right fiber and energy. Try to increase bran, fruits, cereals and legumes in your daily intake.

Another cause for bloating is sodium. Bloating is generally due to an imbalance in the potassium-sodium equilibrium. As we increase our natural potassium intake, the excess sodium is flushed out. Try to increase foods like bananas, potatoes, papaya, spinach and oranges on a daily basis.

Try to have more probiotic foods like yogurt between meals. They help in intestinal mobility and prevent constipation. To avoid excess calories, have the sugar-free variety.

Which foods should I avoid?

If a flat stomach is your goal, you must say an absolute NO to high-sodium foods like namkeens, packed food, and fried snacks like wafers and chips.

Cut out the diet drinks from your meals. The body can’t completely digest low-cal sweeteners like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and lacitol. Bacteria in our gut ferment this and cause gas and bloating.

Raw food may be a healthy choice, but they also occupy a lot of volume in your stomach. Try to balance salads and fruits with cooked cereals in your meals.

Don’t chew too much on gums, candies or sodas because they cause more air to be trapped in our digestive system.


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