Beliefnet

"Am I eating the right food?" "Is this how to exercise correctly?" "Does stress affect my health?"

All of these questions are common when it comes to figuring out how to be at a healthy weight. There is so much information out there that it can get pretty confusing. When it comes to belly fat, there is no difference! A ton of conflicting bits of information can hold you back from losing weight. It might be time to be open and honest with yourself to figure out what actions you are doing that aren't based in fact.

If you are at a standpoint where you cannot get rid of the belly fat, analyze your diet with these 8 tips to see what you may be doing wrong.

The situation:

You’re eating enough protein, but not the right kind.

What that has to do with belly fat:

Lean protein curbs unnecessary noshing by helping you feel fuller and builds lean muscle that burns calories even when you’re not exercising, says Marina Chaparro, MPH, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Most of us meet our daily protein requirements, but we’re not always getting it from lean sources like fish, chicken, turkey, and vegetarian sources like beans and legumes. Instead, we’re picking red meat and cheeses.

What to do about it:

Focus on lean proteins and aim to eat about 1 gram of protein per day for every 2.2 pounds you weigh, says Chaparro. (A 145-pound woman would need roughly 66 grams.) Get plenty of soluble fiber too. For every daily 10-gram increase, people reduced their visceral fat by 3.7 percent over five years in a study in Obesity. That fat loss increased to 7.4 percent when they added in moderate activity. Some good soluble fiber sources: steel cut oatmeal, beans, cruciferous vegetables and fruit.

The situation:

Your fitness routine is lopsided, either all about cardio or all about strength training.

What that has to do with belly fat:

Studies that pit the two against each other have come to conflicting conclusions, with some saying time in the cardio area is more important than the weight room and vice versa. But a combination of strength training and cardio gets rid of the most belly fat, found a large review of the research.

What to do about it:

Build a fitness routine around both, and make sure it includes a couple of high-intensity interval (HIIT) sessions per week—research shows that HIIT is particularly effective at melting belly fat. Running is a great HIIT option, but high intensity doesn’t have to mean high impact. You can do an effective HIIT workout on more joint-friendly machines like the elliptical, stationary bike or rower. (If you do want to do your intervals on the treadmill, though, we’ve got a trick for that).

The situation:

You’re doing cardio and strength training to burn fat all over your body, but in the meantime, your core routine is the standard plank, held for a longtime.

What that has to do with belly fat:

We love planks, and so do fitness experts, because they strengthen the muscles deep in your core that help support your spine. But a static plank (i.e., just holding steady, on your hands or forearms) should be one of many ab moves in your arsenal—not the only one. By adding movement to your plank, you become less stable, and your abs have to work harder to maintain your balance. So once those abs are revealed, they’re more toned. Focus on reps over time— Jessica Matthews, American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified personal trainer and assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College, says 30 seconds with good form is all you need, and a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that repeated holds for as little as 10 seconds are still beneficial.

What to do about it:

Do shorter planks, focusing on versions that include movement to challenge your core more. (We’ve got 15 ideas here.) Two more of Matthews’ favorite ab moves: The wood chop, and its reverse, the hay barreler. And don’t discount much-maligned crunches. It’s true that they work fewer overall muscles than planks and they’re not recommended for people with lower back issues, but research funded by ACE found that they effectively work your six-pack muscles (crunches even beat other moves like boat pose, bicycle crunches and, yes, the standard plank, when it came to activating upper abs).

The situation:

You’ve got an autoimmune condition.

What that has to do with belly fat:

A lot of medications have weight gain as a potential side effect, but corticosteroids like prednisone (used to treat arthritis, multiple sclerosis and more) and cortisone (used for arthritis, ulcerative colitis, among other conditions) lead to pounds in your stomach, specifically, says Michael Jensen, MD, an endocrinologist and obesity expert at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. They’re often used to treat asthma too.

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