The 5 Root Causes of Belly Fat

Why is belly fat so hard to lose? We all know it is and it’s not your fault. There 5 things that contribute to belly fat and that’s what we’re tackling in this challenge. You’re going to learn exactly how to deal each of these elements the right way.

You’ve been trying, you feel like you’ve done all the things…so why isn’ it working?

Picture it: You’re in your 20s and you think you’re fat. You know you’re fat. You worry about it, maybe even obsess about it. You try diets, maybe exercise, skip meals…you want to look good, you want to look sexy. You want people to watch you walk by and keep on watching.

Now, fast forward to now. You’re in your 40s, 50s or 60s and you’re saying to that 20-year-old, “Honey, you don’t even know the meaning of fat. And just wait till you see what happens in 20 or so years.”

Belly Fat

Most of us have to deal with belly fat as we get older and it’s very stubborn to get rid of. Not only that, but we have a lot of things working against us. When you’re 20, you can probably run around the block 5 times and lose weight. When you’re 40? 50? Not so much.

So, why belly fat? Why does it stalk us like my cat stalks the little fake mice I throw him?

What’s Going on With Belly Fat?

First, it’s important to know that, if you struggle with belly fat, it’s not your fault. I’ll say it again:

It’s Not Your Fault

There are a variety of reasons we gain belly fat and some of them are things we simply can’t measure or control. So here’s what happens:

As you get older, your metabolism drops. Why? It’s usually a combination of things I’ll call the Belly Fat Bermuda Triangle:

  1. Your metabolism naturally slows, some say about one percent every year after 25. This is often due to just aging and loss of muscle (if you don’t keep lifting weights).
  2. Your hormones change. For women, there’s a drop in estrogen and, eventually, you hit that lovely brick wall called menopause, which means all your fat sprints right to your belly. Estrogen seems to influence where your body fat goes – yep, to your belly.
  3. Your body requires fewer calories to function, but you’re still eating the same amount of food. Most of us don’t know that and don’t know how to correct that.

The 5 Roots of Belly Fat

So we have an idea of why we gain belly fat belly fat, which essentially comes down to eating more than we need (which we can fix), loss of muscle mass (which we can fix) and hormones (which…well, you can always see your doctor about that).

Now, there are 5 things we do or don’t do that make that belly fat hard to lose and that’s what we’re going to work on in this Belly Fat Challenge. It’s sort of a mini-course covering these 5 elements and how you can tackle them.

1. Exercise

You know I was going to say this. Exercise is a very important part of losing belly fat…and not just any old exercise, but specific types of exercise:

  • Cardio Interval Training – Longer, slower workouts aren’t a bad thing to do by any means, but interval training has been shown to help reduce belly fat. One study published in the Journal of Obesity found that it not only helps reduce belly fat but increases your aerobic and anaerobic fitness as well as insulin sensitivity (that helps with weight loss among other things).
  • Strength Training – Muscle mass! Having lean muscle tissue is essential for increasing metabolism, changing your body composition (i.e., losing fat) and helping you target belly fat. In one study, researchers took men and women through a resistance training program and found that both groups lost belly fat, even though they didn’t actually lose weight on the scale (that means you’re slimmer, even if the scale doesn’t reflect that). Another reason to trust your scale about as much as I trust my cat (not one bit).
  • Circuit Training – With circuit training, you go from one move to another with no rest in between. This means you’ll burn more calories because your heart rate stays elevated. It also helps you build muscle mass which…see above.

For this 5-Day mini-course, you’ll learn how to do all of these types of workouts. Don’t worry – These workouts short, easy to follow, and are for everyone no matter your fitness level.

2. Stress

Chronic stress is another reason our bodies hold onto belly fat.

One study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences found that chronic stress causes fat accumulation around the belly. This is thought to be due to the stress hormone cortisol – Too much of that and you’re stressed, you’re probably feeding that stress with high-carb or high-sugar foods and, add the cortisol to that, and you’ve got belly fat.

In this challenge, you’re going to learn very simple tricks for reducing stress. They’re so easy, you can do them every day and pretty soon, you’ve got a habit going.

3. NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis)

Next, we have NEAT, which is a fancy term for staying active. Structured exercise is important but sitting on our rears totally contributes to belly fat, among other problems. One study published in Minnesota Medicine found that NEAT is critical in determining your body’s susceptibility to gaining body fat.

In this challenge, you’ll learn simple tricks to be more active each day. Every little move you make counts and I promise, anyone can do these moves.

4. Sleep

You know that sleep is crucial for a variety of things like keeping your stress in check and helping your body rest, recover and heal overnight.

Well, it also affects belly fat. In a study published in the journal SLEEP, experts found that people who got less than 5 hours of sleep a night gained more ab fat over a 5-year period.

One reason is that we’re up for more hours, so we might eat more. There’s the stress of being tired (there’s that cortisol again) and then lack of sleep makes us crave things that will make us feel better like chips or ice cream or pizza.

In this challenge, you’ll take a look at your sleep habits and try small changes that will help you get better quality sleep.

5. Diet

Ah, now we reach the Big One. Diet is probably the single most important contributor to belly fat and I don’t have to tell you why.

What contributes the most? Sugar, processed foods, refined carbs. You knew that. So, what do you do about it?

In this challenge, you’re going to learn small ways to work on your diet to help target that belly fat. You’ll also get tons of recipes to choose from, and I promise you won’t feel deprived. No dieting!

So, there you have it – 5 crucial root causes of belly fat. And this challenge? Is going to help you conquer them.

Are you ready to get started? Get ready for Day 1.


Blaine B. Does Depression Cause Obesity?: A Meta-analysis of Longitudinal Studies of Depression and Weight Control. J Health Psychol. 2008;13(8):1190-1197. doi:10.1177/1359105308095977

Kuo LE, Czarnecka M, Kitlinska JB, Tilan JU, Kvetňanský R, Zukowska Z. Chronic Stress, Combined with a High-Fat/High-Sugar Diet, Shifts Sympathetic Signaling toward Neuropeptide Y and Leads to Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2008;1148(1):232-237. doi:10.1196/annals.1410.035

Trapp EG, Chisholm DJ, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. Nature News. Published January 15, 2008.

Daubenmier J, Kristeller J, Hecht FM, et al. Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study., Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study. J Obes. 2011;2011, 2011:651936-651936. doi:10.1155/2011/651936, 10.1155/2011/651936

Leidy H, Tang M, Armstrong C, B Martin C, W Campbell W. The Effects of Consuming Frequent, Higher Protein Meals on Appetite and Satiety During Weight Loss in Overweight/Obese Men. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md). 2011;19:818-824. doi:10.1038/oby.2010.203

M Kotz C, Levine J. Role of nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) in obesity. Minnesota medicine. 2005;88:54-57.

R Hunter G, Bryan D, J Wetzstein C, A Zuckerman P, Bamman M. Resistance training and intra-abdominal adipose tissue in older men and women. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 2002;34:1023-1028. doi:10.1097/00005768-200206000-00019

Vispute SS, Smith JD, LeCheminant JD, Hurley KS. The Effect of Abdominal Exercise on Abdominal Fat. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2011;25(9):2559. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181fb4a46

Can Omega-3 Fish Oil Help You Lose Weight? Healthline. Published September 12, 2017.

Sleep Linked to Gains in Abdominal Fat – National Sleep Foundation.