10 Ways You’re Wrecking Your Belly Fat Loss Goals, Say Dietitians — Eat This Not That


Are you trying to lose belly fat but not seeing the results you want? You may be unknowingly sabotaging your efforts. Dietitians have identified 10 common mistakes that can prevent you from achieving your goals. From eating too much sugar to not getting enough sleep, these are the habits you should avoid if you want to get rid of your belly fat. Read on to learn more about the 10 ways you’re wrecking your belly fat loss goals.

10 Ways You’re Wrecking Your Belly Fat Loss Goals, Say Dietitians — Eat This Not That

If you’re trying to lose belly fat, you may be making some mistakes that are sabotaging your efforts. Here are 10 common mistakes dietitians say you should avoid if you want to reach your goals.

1. Eating Too Many Processed Foods

Processed foods are often high in calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats, which can lead to weight gain and make it harder to lose belly fat. Instead, focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

2. Not Eating Enough Protein

Protein is essential for weight loss and maintaining muscle mass. Aim to get at least 20-30 grams of protein at each meal to help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts.

3. Not Drinking Enough Water

Staying hydrated is important for overall health and can help you lose belly fat. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day to keep your body functioning properly.

4. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for weight loss and overall health. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to help your body recover and stay energized.

5. Not Exercising Regularly

Regular exercise is important for weight loss and overall health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day to help burn calories and build muscle.

6. Eating Too Much Sugar

Sugar is high in calories and can lead to weight gain. Try to limit your intake of added sugars and opt for healthier alternatives like fresh fruit or dark chocolate.

7. Not Eating Enough Fiber

Fiber is important for weight loss and can help you feel full and satisfied. Aim to get at least 25-30 grams of fiber per day from sources like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

8. Not Eating Enough Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are essential for weight loss and can help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Good sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, and olive oil.

9. Eating Too Many Calories

Eating too many calories can lead to weight gain and make it harder to lose belly fat. Try to stick to a calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories per day to help you reach your goals.

10. Not Tracking Your Progress

Tracking your progress is important for weight loss and can help you stay motivated. Try using a food journal or fitness tracker to help you stay on track.

Losing belly fat is such a frustrating goal for so many people because it can be difficult to pinpoint a specific food or behavior that’s the root cause of weight gain. There are many, many ways we can sabotage our efforts to eat healthily and lose weight. After all, food is everywhere we turn today, and the greatest volume of options seem to be those high in calories and in enticing flavors that keep us eating more and more.

That’s why dietitians are so adamant about practicing mindful eating. It’s that awareness of the temptations and our responses to them (the munching without thinking) that can give us the greatest control over what and how much we consume. So, to put mindful eating into practice, put these fat-loss wrecking habits on your radar. Then try these Mindfulness Hacks to Lose Weight.

Woman looking to a little salad is tired about diet

We’ve been indoctrinated into thinking that eating as little as possible is the most effective way to lose weight when that approach often backfires.

“Not only can this lead to increased cravings and potentially feeling more out of control around food, but entering the starvation zone can slow down your metabolism through adaptive thermogenesis,” says medical board member Lisa Moskovitz, RD, a registered dietitian with the NY Nutrition Group and author of The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan.

Your body needs a certain number of calories and nutrients to function properly. Threatening that basic need can cause your body “to hold onto fat cells and send your body into a protective, premature plateau instead of burning body fat,” she says.

buddha bowl with kale, chickpeas, quinoa, chicken, avocado, and carrots

If you’re not eating foods in their whole, natural form regularly, you are likely eating too many overly processed, empty-calorie foods like cakes, cookies, and the like that can sabotage your weight loss efforts.

“Processed foods tend to be high in calories, saturated fat and added sugar and low in nutrients your body needs to stay healthy,” says medical expert Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CND, author of the best-selling Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook. “There’s no need to stay completely away from these foods but try to fill up on wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean protein, low/nonfat milk and dairy, and healthy fats first and then if you are craving sweets, make it a small portion.”

leafy greens kale spinach

Leafy greens are powerhouse weight-loss foods. Why? They deliver mostly water and healthy nutrients for very few calories.

“Fresh leafy greens from spinach to kale to romaine lettuce take up a significant volume on our plate and help ‘trick’ us into feeling more satiated,” says medical board member Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD. “Leafy greens provide only about 5-10 calories per cup, and this barely makes a dent in our calorie needs for a meal or snack. They also provide fiber, vitamins A and C, folate, and other beneficial compounds to help control our health and body weight.”

salad in bowl with dressing poured over top

You can turn a healthful, fresh vegetable salad into a total calorie bomb and not even realize it by pouring on heavy salad dressings, warn medical experts Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, also known as The Nutrition Twins. Creamy dressings like ranch and Caesar can pack about 12 grams of fat and more than 140 calories in a two-tablespoon serving (and most people use more).

“Instead of calorie-dense oils and fatty dressings, use lemon; spritz it on salads, vegetables, fish, chicken, rice dishes, and more,” they say. “It’s a flavor-enhancing trick used by top chefs to build a lot of flavor while keeping meals light.”

Research suggests lemon’s polyphenol antioxidants may help to suppress body weight and body fat accumulation.

overnight oats with blackberries and raspberries

“Fiber helps keep us full and break the cycle of overeating that may lend to excess calorie consumption and weight gain,” says Hembree.

But bland oatmeal isn’t your only option.

“Berries, ideally blackberries or raspberries, have a high-fiber content at five grams or more per serving,” she says. “Throw blackberries into your next oatmeal or raspberries into your next pudding or yogurt parfait.”

woman drinking soda

You’ve heard the term “liquid lunch.” It doesn’t only mean having a beer at noontime. High-calorie beverages are often a sneaky way to consume more calories every day than you realize. Make water, sparkling water, and unsweetened iced tea your go-to beverages.

“We tell patients to reconsider any drinkable calories, like soda, juice, and even healthy ‘green’ smoothies or juices, because they are not typically seen as a meal,” says Avantika Waring, MD, and Chief Medical Officer at 9am.health. “Most of them contain sugar. Make sure to check the nutrition facts on all beverages you buy and drink.”

Coffee with sugar

Are you in the habit of shaking those paper sugar packets before dumping them into your coffee shop beverage? Satisfying, isn’t it? Or maybe you prefer squirting those sugary flavored syrups into your coffee. Sweetening your beverages or cereal with sugar can add up to lots of added sugar calories without you realizing it.

The Nutrition Twins recommend replacing sugar with cinnamon. “You’ll avoid the extra calories, and the inflammation sugar causes that’s linked to weight gain,” they say. Plus, cinnamon has weight loss and blood sugar benefits.”

A 2019 study in the International Journal of Food Science suggests that as little as a 1/3 teaspoon a day of cinnamon can lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides.

“Sprinkle cinnamon in your coffee, cereal, smoothies, popcorn, yogurt, oatmeal, muffins, baked goods, and more,” the Nutrition Twins advise.


Don’t ditch your friends, but do be aware that social pressure can certainly lead to a higher food intake at dinner than you really planned on.

“Whether it’s an alcoholic drink or getting several desserts, having friends around who don’t necessarily support your weight loss efforts can be difficult,” says Amidor. “Your best bet is to review the menu in advance and determine, based on your intake for the day, what you’ll be eating. It is okay to leave room for dessert if you know your friends like to order it, but recommend sharing one dessert with one or two other people.”

stepping on scale

Stepping on a weight scale can be a useful tool for losing weight. Or not. For one, it doesn’t always accurately reflect the progress you’re making in losing body fat.

“Relying too much on total pounds can be discouraging and make it difficult to stay motivated,” says Moskovtiz. “Instead of worrying about your weight, pay attention to non-scale successes such as improvement in energy, digestion, sleep, and mood stability.”

A more reliable way to get accurate numbers if you need them to stay motivated is body composition analysis, which reveals your body fat versus muscle mass versus water weight.

author at home writing in journal

All of the behaviors written above are just words if you don’t remember them. So, grab a pen.

“The best tool to help you recognize self-sabotaging behaviors is by keeping a journal,” says Moskovitz. “Don’t just track the food you eat, but also portions, hunger and fullness levels, emotions involved around mealtime, and where you are during the meal. Writing down food behaviors in real time is a highly effective method to stay accountable and self-aware.”

Need proof? Check out what this New Study Says About Online Weight Loss Programs.