Make no mistake, having belly fat is so much more profound than not looking good when shirtless. It has been linked to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, high triglycerides and more.

So you decided to slim down that tummy. You tried diets, exercise and all sort of ab gadgets sold on late night tv and you still can’t get rid of your abdominal fat or your results are minimal. What gives?

First off, you are not alone. For men, fat around the mid-section is the hardest fat to lose. There is a scientific reason for this.

But there are also diet and exercise blunders and physical factors that may sabotage your efforts to streamline your mid section.
The Science

Why You Gain Fat There?

You don’t have fat evenly distributed throughout your body. Where your fat is
stored is genetically determined and hormonally-influenced.

Your fat cells are not just reserves to be called upon for fuel when your body needs them. They are actually endocrine glands which send and receive signals from the rest of the body.

For fat cells (adipocytes) to give up their fat, the hormone adrenaline must be secreted and a signal sent to your fat cells. Those cells receive the hormonal signal by way of receptors called adrenoreceptors. The fatty acids released must then be delivered to the working muscles where they’re consumed for energy.

Fat cells have Beta 1 (B1) and Alpha 2 (A2) receptors. B1 receptors are the guys on your side. They activate lipase, the enzyme that breaks down the fat and allows it to be released into the bloodstream to be burned.

A2 receptors are the bad guys. They encourage fat formation by blocking the fat releasing enzyme in the fat cells. So what is the point to this biology lesson?

Well in males, the lower abdominal area has a greater concentration of A2 receptors. This is one possible explanation why fat gains tend to go to the stomach area first and why it is so hard to come off.

By the way, for you ladies out there, your hips and thighs are great in A2 receptors. As is the case with men, the location of fat deposits is dictated by genetics and by the hormonal and enzymatic pathways previously mentioned.

To get rid of those deposits, proper exercise and nutrition is required. But that doesn’t seem to be working for you. Here is where you’re likely to be going wrong:
Exercise

Doing Only Abs Training

If you are spending a lot of time doing traditional “abs exercises” you are wasting time. These exercises don’t give you a flat stomach and don’t burn many calories.

What you want to do is do a full body workout and pay attention to intensity (more on this below) as you do so. In this way, you are targeting the reduction of overall body fat so that your abdominal muscles can show up.

Abdominal exercises have their place in that it could make the muscles in the abs show up in a more dramatic fashion – when you get lean enough. But such exercises should only be a small part of your workouts.

Furthermore don’t think abs only – think about strengthening your entire core which would also include the mid and lower back. A strong core helps you to carry out every day tasks like lifting and helps prevent back pain. Don’t forget to work on your hips too.

Doing Only Slow Steady State Exercises

Go to most gyms and you’ll see lots of people crowded around aerobics machines and using the treadmill or elliptical machine for long durations. But doing lots of these long duration exercises is not the best way to go.

There is an increasing body of scientific research that demonstrates that slow steady state exercises do not provide the level of fat loss that shorter, higher intensity exercises do.

Take jogging for example. Doing it will burn more fat than if you did a shorter, high intensity exercise such as sprinting.

During shorter, more intense workouts, the body prefers carbohydrates for fuel for quick energy release. But it still burns fat, though not as much as when you do lower intensity cardio (aerobics).

The thing is though, when you do high intensity workouts, your body’s metabolism is so cranked up that fat burning can occur up to a day or more after the workout is done. So total calories burned is higher than when doing slow, long duration cardio.

Plus, doing higher intensity exercises builds more muscle than when doing the slower stuff. Muscle is metabolically active – translation – muscle burns fat!

So if you are just doing slow steady state aerobics and you are not getting the results you’d like, mix in some high intensity interval training and melt those pounds.

You can read more about long distance cardio (aerobics vs steady state exercises here.

Lack of Variety In Exercise

The body is remarkably adaptable. After a time of doing the same workout time and again, your body gets so efficient at it that it does not have to work as hard. This results in less calories being burned.

Besides, not varying your workout might make you less motivated and increases the likelihood of you skipping your workouts. Therefore, vary your workouts for continued success.
Diet

Insufficient Calorie Deficit

You may be tempted to reward your workouts with some tasty treats because you believe that you have burned all those calories in your workouts. However, it may be that you have overestimated the amount of calories you burned and actually consumed more calories than you expected via eating your tasty treat.

So for healthy fat loss, aim for a 15%-20% calorie deficit daily and pay attention to portion sizes. If you’re not careful, you could actually end up overeating even on healthy food.

For a post workout meal – go for high quality protein. And overall, avoid sugary foods and drink.

Eating Too Little

It sounds counter-intuitive. You have been told to diet to shed the flab. You may have taken this to the extreme and gone on a seriously low calorie diet – basically starving yourself. You may have lost weight in the beginning, but long term you regain it.

This happens because your body is hard-wired to protect itself. So when you are starving yourself, your body slows down your metabolic rate and holds on to as much fat as it can for its survival. This makes further weight loss difficult and you’ve reached a plateau so to speak.

Eventually you can’t hold out on the “starvation” anymore and boom – you start binging on food, especially the high calorie type. Even experienced athletes go through plateaus when they are trying to get very lean and shredded.

One of the tools they use to deal with this is carb cycling. This is a tactic that non-athletes can also use to achieve more consistent results.

Read more about the dangers of low calories diets here.
Other Reasons

Sleep Deprivation

Apparently former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used to get by on 5 hours sleep. But ideally, you should be aiming for 7-8 hours per day of deep of restful sleep. At a minimum – 6 hours.

From a purely common sense point of view, lack of sleep affects exercise performance and endurance. But also, studies have shown the link between sleep deprivation and weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

If you are constantly sleep deprived, you are in effect stressed and your body in response, undergoes a cycle of hormone output that leads to food cravings and fat storage - especially around the mid section.

A Medical Condition

Some medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid problems and hormonal imbalances can cause you to put on the pounds and make it harder to lose them.

Also, taking certain medication may contribute to weight gain. It wouldn’t hurt to chat with your doctor to see if you have a medical condition that is negatively affecting your plans for a slimmer you.

Author's Bio: 

David Cassell shows you how to lose stomach fat for six pack abs the right way. David is also author of "Kick Butt Metabolism" ©2010, owner of http://RippedAbsWorkout.com and publishes a Fitness E-letter