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I work from home at my desk. I run ~8-9 miles a week and hit the gym to lift ~2 times a week. Doing barbell exercises, pushups, pullups, etc.

I'm in decent physical shape, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to have a flat tummy since I was 20. It's starting to feel pathological, and it's bothering me.

I've been having a green smoothie in the morning, lunch is usually some protein and carbs with some greens, and dinner usually the same. Sometimes I skip breakfast.

What can I do to solve this issue?

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    Do you track your food? Are you eating enough?
    – C. Lange
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 19:05
  • To @C.Lange's comment, are you eating too much? Either way, weight loss is an individual process. What works for one person may not work for another.
    – rrirower
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 21:41
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    A bit curious about where you are right now. Are you male or female, and what is your weight, height, and age? A lot of people have unrealistic standards about what healthy looks like due to social media. Even if it looks like someone has a flat stomach, 99% of them are just utilizing angles, perfect lighting, and flexing/sucking in to achieve those pictures. Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 23:24

2 Answers 2

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If you're a man, your belly is your body's primary fat storage location. Quite literally, the only way to get rid of it is to reduce your body fat levels. Eating different types of food will make no difference if your total calorie intake is the same. Exercise also can't specifically reduce belly fat, in the sense that that sit-ups will only increase muscle volume in the belly, they won't reduce belly fat.

I'd suggest measuring your waist circumference and comparing it to the guidelines for your ethnicity. If you're over the recommended maximum waist circumference, then it may be worth considering deliberate efforts to lose weight. If you're well under the recommendations, then losing additional body fat is likely to be extremely difficult, and probably isn't worth bothering with. It may instead just be that you hold unrealistic expectations about how much belly fat a person should have.

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  • I'm a man, 31 yo, 5"9, ~155 lbs. Middle Eastern. I guess I may have unrealistic expectations, I wish just I don't have the protruding belly I have right now. I see other people who are also on the slim side to have an average or flat belly. It made me wonder if that's just what my body shape is, or maybe I'm too self-conscious about this.
    – Moody
    Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 22:42
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    @Moody at a BMI of 23, you're not particularly heavy for your height, so it might be that you just don't have a lot of muscle, which makes your belly fat more obvious. If you're below the above recommendations for waist circumference, then focussing on adding muscle to your legs, butt, back, chest and shoulders could help make the belly fat look smaller in relation to the rest of your body, even if you don't actually lose any fat. Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 23:13
  • Stubborn fat can also be an indicator of insulin resistance. Making sure your insulin levels arent going up and down all day and laying off sugary foods with exception of around workout sometimes helps, or eating carbs around workout or post workout and eating low carb rest of day. This is more noticeable of your skinny fat. Some people (research is mixed) have positive outcomes with intermittent fasting when it comes to improving insulin sensitivity
    – user32213
    Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 4:35
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    @AceCabbie Insulin resistance does not cause difficulty losing weight, and there's nothing wrong with insulin levels going up and down all day. In fact, that's what insulin is supposed to do. Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 0:47
  • Right, and your correct, but subcutaneous fat(not sure if I spelled that right) is harder to lose . I'm getting all my research from t nation and various articles on insulin resistance and subcutaneous fat, because to lose it, you either have to lose muscle to lose it as well or improve insulin resistance. I can post the links if you want and yes insulin is supposed to go up and down all day but it causes fat accumulation that is different from regular fat. Again this isn't me saying this I got it from various t nation and health articles
    – user32213
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 23:01
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As mentioned in David's answer, to have a flat belly you have to lose body fat. Tracking your calories will definitely help with that.

Counter-intuitively, you might need to eat more instead of eating less. Reason: if you don't have enough muscle mass you'll need to lose a lot of body fat to get a flat belly, by which point you'll look emaciated (which I don't believe is anyone's objective).

In that case, you're better off building some extra muscle first, then losing some of the fat you'll gain. People with high enough muscle mass don't need extremely low fat % to have visible ab muscles.

Make sure you eat enough protein in the process - you can't build muscle if you don't.

Try to keep your diet composed mostly of whole foods, avoid excessive processed food. Those can also cause water retention and bloat. Drink enough water to stay hydrated - something around 1 liter per 20kg of body weight.

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