This Is What Causes Belly Fat, and the 3 Steps You Can Implement Today to Reduce It

If you're trying to reduce your body fat, specifically the fat around your stomach, doing countless ab workouts won't cut it. This is because spot-reduction doesn't work. To find out what causes belly fat in women and what actually works to get rid of it, POPSUGAR spoke to Perri Halperin, MS, RD, clinical dietitian at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Where Do Women Typically Store Fat?

You've probably heard that women tend to have more body fat than men, and according to Perri this is true. "The reason for this is likely evolutionary — women need more stored energy to support the reproductive process," Perri told POPSUGAR. Although women tend to have more body fat than men, Perri said, "Where fat is stored and why is individualized."

She then explained, "Those who are 'apple shaped' — with fat concentrated around the abdomen — are thought to be at a higher risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes than those who are 'pear shaped' — who carry weight more in the hips, buttocks, and thighs." Fat that is concentrated around the abdomen is considered more of risk because it's intraviseral, and "stored throughout the important organs in your abdominal cavity," she explained.

What Causes Belly Fat in Women?

Let's be clear: eating a slice of pizza, candy, or your favorite dessert every now and then is OK — it's all about moderation. There isn't one specific reason why women develop fat in their abdominal region, and according to Perri, poor diet and low-activity levels are contributing factors to increased amounts of belly fat. Other reasons women develop belly fat are, "hormonal changes such as menopause, alcohol intake, age, stress, and family history," she said.

How to Reduce Your Belly Fat

If your goal is to reduce your belly fat, and overall body fat percentage, Perri said to eat a healthy diet that's low in sugar and high in fiber. She also recommended incorporating both aerobic and strength training exercises into your routine. If you aren't sure where to begin when it comes to strength training, this four-week program will teach you the fundamentals of lifting and help you build muscle.