Although, it’s near impossible to magically lose belly fat in one go, a consistent lifestyle change coupled with a structured exercise routine and healthy diet will lead to weight-loss all over the body including the belly.

Being overweight or obese can bring lots of health problems, and excessive belly fat is linked to increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. It’s the deepest layer of belly fat can pose most health risks because these visceral fat produces harmful hormone and substances. Ask anyone who has tried, losing belly fat isn’t easy and takes a lot of patience and dedication.

Essentially, fat around the belly occurs because of the same reason you get fat build-up anywhere on your body; when you’re consuming more energy than the body is using, it gets stored as fat. Simply put, it’s more difficult to shift belly fat because it has a higher amount of fat cells that don’t respond as easily to the fat-breakdown process.

If you’ve been trying to lose belly fat and you’re frustrated by your lack of progress, here are 5 reasons why your belly lasting may not be going according to plan.

1. You’re taking too much sugar

If your diet consists of lots of energy drinks, soft drinks and even flavoured waters as well as sweet foods like chocolate and cakes, it will make losing weight that much harder. While whole fruits and vegetables are definitely good for you, they can also sometimes cause weight gain if you eat too much because they contain high levels of natural sugars. Low-fat food options might have high amounts of hidden sugar in there too, so make sure to check the label before you purchase.

Instead, try cutting down the amount of simple carbohydrates you eat, like pasta and bread, and substituting for healthier alternatives like zoodles (zucchini noodles). Reducing your overall carbohydrate intake will give you the best chance of tackling your belly fat once and for all.

2. Your’e not eating enough protein

Protein is great for fat loss. It helps build and preserve lean muscle tissue and can increase the amount of calories you burn. It’s also a great source of energy that helps you feel fuller for longer, so you’re less tempted to snack.

Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, eggs, milk and chickpeas. If you’re finding it hard to avoid snacks that are high in carbs, try substituting them for protein shakes or bars.

3. You’re not tracking your progress

There are some great fitness apps and portable devices available that will make it easier to stick to your fitness goals. They can help you monitor your progress, your food intake and the calories burned during exercise. If you can’t use one of those, go the old-fashioned way and keep a diet and fitness diary that helps hold you accountable. This will help you stick to your goals and remain focused.

4. You’re crash-dieting

Crash dieting means cutting down how much you eat and although it might help you to lose a few pounds at first, but they’re hard to sustain and won’t help you keep the weight off. It might seem like a quick and easy option, but eating too little is just as harmful as eating too much and your body goes into starvation mode and ends up storing fat. This will slow down your metabolism, making it harder for your body to lose weight. Make sensible, healthy changes to your lifestyle that you can stick to and avoid the fad diets.

5. You’ve lost motivation

One of the hardest parts of losing weight is maintaining the lifestyle changes you’ve made. It’s hard to stay motivated all the time, especially if you’ve slipped up along the way. However, don’t let this affect your end goal. If you’re feeling particularly unmotivated, get an accountability partner who will help keep you on track.

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