About 11 months ago, many among us may have resolved that 2017 would not end with us still carrying our belly fat, a.k.a. umkhaba. But, lo and behold, the status quo remains.
There are a number of reasons why progress may have seemed particularly slow this year:
An average alcoholic drink is known to supply almost twice as many calories as some protein and carbs. Additionally, alcohol packs on empty calories, which are devoid of nutrition, and it decreases fat burn in the belly area, hence mkhaba (beer belly).
2. Too many processed foods
Processed foods and beverages are the biggest sources of added sugar and when consumed in excess, sugar can affect your metabolism. Most of these foods are also loaded with artificial chemicals including colourants, preservatives and flavourants.
When it comes to weight loss, we only burn half as many calories digesting and metabolizing processed foods compared to whole foods.
While cardio is great for your body, cardio workouts alone won't do much for your waist. A combination of cardio and strength training is more ideal. Through strength training, you burn more fat, torch more calories and your body continues to burn more calories even after you're done with the workout.
Another hindrance to belly-weight loss may be because your workout is not be challenging enough. A study published in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise indicated that people who completed a high-intensity workout regimen lost more belly fat than those who followed a low-intensity plan.
The stress hormone, cortisol, may increase the amount of fat your body clings on to and enlarge your fat cells, especially in the abdominal area.
Stressed people are also known to often reach for high-fat and high-calorie foods, which are notoriously bad for your waistline.
5. Not getting enough sleep
Studies have proven that people who sleep less than five hours a night are more likely to gain weight that those who slept seven hours. Research also indicates that people who are sleep-deprived tend to eat more –– especially junk food.
If you carry more weight around your mid-section, you are considered "apple-shaped".
People with this body shape tend to pack on kilos around their waist more than other area of the body such as the hips and thighs. This may make it harder to rid yourself of belly fat. But it is not impossible. A combination of intense cardio and strength training is recommended.
As you get older, your body changes in how it gains or loses weight as your metabolism drops. Loss of muscle mass also decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, women have to deal with menopause. The hormone shift causes women to hold on to weight in their bodies.
*The post has intentionally excluded weight retention in the abdominal area which might have been caused by an illness.