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Nutrition & Dieting/Pls help - why isn't my stomach slimming down?

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Question
Hi there! I'm really frustrated at the moment and would appreciate some advice.

I'm 19, female, 121 lbs and 5"4', and I know I'm not fat but I do have a sort of pudgy midsection (stomach, hips), with my stomach concerning me the most as it sticks out a fair bit. It's not bloating or anything, just fat and a bit of underlying muscle. Also, my face is kind of chubby.

So for the past couple of months I have been doing all of the right things in an attempt to slim it down:

- only eating around 1300 healthy calories per day (Lots of fibre, protein, whole grains. Almost no sugar, or sodium, or unhealthy fats etc)
- only drinking lots of water and some low fat milk for liquids
- eating more smaller meals instead of fewer larger ones
- doing at least 30 mins of cardio per day and some strength training

I've lost about 4 lbs, but while I can see a difference in my legs and waist, my stomach still seems to stick out as much as before, and I can't see much of a difference in my face either.

Am I doing something wrong? I know spot-toning's a myth, so surely I should be losing weight in my stomach if I'm losing it in other areas?
Please advise! Thanks in advance, really appreciate it.

Answer
Hi Ashlee

The first thing I notice is that your caloric intake is very low at 1300. Usually I tell people to never go below 1600. The thing is when you limit calories too much your body panics. the body has not evolved any since caveman times. The main function of your body is to maintain life at any cost, so when calories are low it shuts down the metabolism as a defense. It also holds on to as much fat as possible to use as fuel.

For your weight, height and age there is no reason you shouldn't be eating around 1800-2000 calories. These calories should come from 5-6 meals spaced 3 hours apart. At least the three main meals should contain the 3 macronutrients, protein, fat and carbohydrate.

Something else you might try is to cycle your food. Your body can get set in its ways pretty fast. so it is good to change up what you eat. One of the best methods is to have high and low days. The best way to do this is to alternate carbs.
Say for instance Monday is a high day. You would eat a complex starchy carb with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then Tuesday is a medium day, you would remove the dinner and possibly lunch carbs and replace them with vegetables.
Then Wednesday is a low day, you would only eat starchy carbs at breakfast or skip them all together. then Thursday would be high and so on.
This way of eating keeps the metabolism working because it never has the chance to get used to anything.
You can also alternate weeks, but the days are easier to start with.

And I know you said it isn't bloating but keep in mind the body can hold excess water in the abdominal area. It won't feel like bloating but it does cause the mid section to look loose and stick out. you might even try a mild detox tea, something with dandelion root to help expel any excess fluid. I would never recommend any of those extreme 2 day cleanses or anything. But you can find very mild herbal teas in health food stores that are safe for daily use.

Now when it comes to your workouts. How much resistance (weight) training are you doing? Lifting burns more calories than cardio. try to get in at least 30 minutes of weight lifting 4 times a week. You can even follow it up with 20-30 minutes of cardio for a great workout.
Be sure to always do your lifting first though.

Another thing is what type of cardio are you doing? Have you heard of HIIT cardio? High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT alternates bouts of high and low activity. It has been found to burn more fat and actually spare more muscle. A typical HIIT workout can be done in 20-25 min. as opposed to 40-60 minutes steady state.
An example of a HIIT workout on a treadmill may be a 5 minute warm up, 60 seconds running, 90 seconds fast walk, 60 second run, etc. for about ten sets. Each 60/90 split is one set.

finally you should consider environmental and social factors. What is your stress level like? Stress can cause a hormonal imbalance that actually can cause you to gain or hold on to excess mid section fat. Consider all stress sources like school, job, finances etc.
And sleep is important too. Be sure to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

Those are just some ideas you may consider to combat the belly fat. I wouldn't worry so much about your face as long as the rest of your body is lean. Even some professional fitness athletes with single digit body fat still have a rounded face.

Hopefully some of this helped. If not feel free to write back. Best of luck.

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Tim Santoro

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I can answer questions regarding the following. Confusion about basic nutrition, explain how to improve diet, when and how to eat better, eating for weight loss, eating for health, eating for fitness. I will answer questions about nutritional and workout supplements. I will not endorse any fad diets, however I can explain the draw backs to them and explain why they are the wrong way to go. I will not give advice relating to medications and/or their interactions with food and supplements.

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I have earned certifications in Fitness Training and Fitness Nutrition from ISSA. I also self taught and stay current on the fitness industry. I lost 70 pounds training my self.

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www.bestfitnessnow.com

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SFN- Specialist in Fitness Nutrition from ISSA CFT-n Certified Fitness Trainer from ISSA

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Just the thank you from people I get to help.

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