I’ve been going to the gym six days a week, sometimes twice a day. I have also been following a very strict diet for about ten weeks now. I’ve never been “overweight” but I’ve never had that flat, toned stomach everyone is dying to have. I am 5’3, 126lbs, 20 years old.

At the gym, I do roughly 45 to 60 minutes of cardio and 20 to 30 minutes of strength training. My legs have gotten extremely toned, which is great! However, I CANNOT get my stomach fat to go away.

I have spent hours on the Internet looking for reasons why: lack of protein, not alternating exercises, not drinking enough water, etc. I feel like I have tried everything and have hit a dead end. Do you have any specific suggestions for getting rid of stomach fat?

 – Anna


Anna, your exercise routine and weight for your height are great targets for most women to attain! Improving upon near perfection is indeed difficult. A healthy body mass index (BMI) of 22, like yours, includes a variety of body fat percentages and shapes.

Truth be told… the “flat, toned stomach everyone is dying for” is rare, even among fit women at a healthy body weight such as yourself. The envy-causing abs that you see in photographs are probably from people whose jobs require them to exercise or be in shape.*

Sculpt Your Abs in 2015 with These Advanced Six Pack Defining Exercises!

However, it is possible to further alter your body composition and fat distribution within the limits of your inherent body shape. Here are a few strategies that may help to reduce your midsection and develop those ab muscles:

Avoid added sugars – The quick absorption and easy storage of table sugar make it belly enemy #1! Even if you are very strict, hidden sugars like sucrose, dextrose and corn syrup can be found in prepared foods, from condiments to frozen food.

Drink two to three servings of green tea per day – It can give you enough of its catechin polyphenols to increase its fat burning ability slightly. Plus, sipping on hot tea may curb food cravings and contribute to satiety.

Eat lean proteins – Eat lean protein during and between meals to help keep up your metabolism and preserve your muscle tissue. Choose egg whites, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, beans/lentils, poultry breast, 7 percent fat ground beef, and extra lean cuts of meat.

Add nuts, plant oils or fish oils – They will help control hunger and combat inflammation. Calories are rich, so consider swapping out equivalent calories from dairy/meat, fats or carbohydrates.

*The rarest of the rare – according to the US Bureau of Labor statistics for 2014, there was a reported total of 296,600 models, professional athletes, fitness trainers and instructors of both sexes. That is only 9 hundredths of 1 percent (0.09 percent) of all Americans.

– Debbie J., MS, RD
Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition? Ask our dietitian by submitting your question to or simply ask it in the COMMENTS section below.

To learn how to follow the “Ask Our Dietitian” Q&A CLICK HERE!

Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.



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