If your workout regimen is on point but you still have belly fat, you should take your stress levels into consideration. Too much stress causes your body to produce an excess of cortisol, the stress hormone. When this happens, your metabolic rate can be negatively impacted. Cortisol "leads to people eating more, sleeping less, and it may affect insulin resistance," registered dietitian nutritionist Avigdor Arad, PhD, CDE, director of the Mount Sinai PhysioLab, said in a previous interview. According to Dr. Arad, this is bad because insulin signals your body to "store and build rather than to burn."
Emotional stress isn't the only variable affecting your ability to lose belly fat. According to Rondel, too much steady-state cardio can be catabolic and break down muscle tissue. This can also lead to an increase in the number of stress hormones your body produces, which is "very catabolic in nature," he further explained. Bottom line: manage your stress levels with strategies like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and exercise, and don't overdo it on the cardio.