Skip to content

The 10 Worst Habits for Belly Fat

These common culprits could be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts, according to experts.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Are you struggling to shed stubborn belly fat? If so, it might be time to take a closer look at your daily habits. Everything from what you eat to how much you sleep are daily behaviors that could be causing you to hold on to unwanted belly fat. If you're at a loss as to why shrinking your waistline is so challenging, ETNT has got you covered. We spoke with nutrition experts who share the top 10 worst habits for belly fat. Plus, we'll share how you can turn things around to achieve a slimmer, healthier midsection.

Daily habits play a crucial role in weight loss because they directly influence your calorie intake, energy expenditure, and metabolism. For those who are struggling to do away with their belly fat, shifting your focus to cultivating healthy daily habits can create a sustainable lifestyle that supports weight loss and long-term health. So, if you're ready to tackle that stubborn belly fat, read on for the 10 worst habits for belly fat, according to experts. Then, when you're done, be sure to check out People Swear by Drinking Bone Broth for Weight Loss: 'Totally Changed My Life'.

Distracted eating

woman eating dinner while working

Eating while distracted, such as watching TV or working on the computer, can lead to mindless eating and consuming too many calories. This habit also makes it challenging to gauge fullness cues.

"In one study, people who ate while watching TV or walking consumed five times more than those who didn't have distractions while eating," says Destini Moody, RDN, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and sports dietitian with Garage Gym Reviews. "When you're not eating mindfully, your brain may not efficiently communicate to the stomach that you're full because you're not concentrating on taking in food. This can cause you to eat more than normal, which can cause an increase in belly fat."

Here's How Much Water You Should Drink Every Day To Lose Weight

Not getting enough protein

high-protein foods, concept of the best protein for weight loss

Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, including muscle. Not getting enough protein in your diet can lead to muscle loss, which research suggests can slow the metabolism and make it harder to lose belly fat.

"Protein-rich snacks are more effective at keeping you full until your next meal because protein induces satiety," Moody explains. "Snacks like string cheese, Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and beef jerky will make you feel full sooner, which means eating fewer calories from snacks and less potential to overeat throughout the day."

Not drinking enough water

water glass

If you're not drinking enough water, you may become dehydrated. Dehydration makes it difficult to stay active and torch calories.

Moody tells us, "Studies show that most of the time, we mistake thirst for hunger. We might snack or eat more than we should when all we need is some water. Staying hydrated can help prevent hunger from developing prematurely and eating too many calories."

8 Tips for Boosting Muscle Growth After 50, According to a Trainer

Overconsuming calories from healthy foods

avocados, concept of how many calories are in an avocado

Eating too much food—even healthy ones—can lead to weight gain. That's why portion control is essential to healthy weight loss.

"Antioxidants, nutrients, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats are all present in nuts, seeds, and avocados, making them part of a healthy diet. However, the downside of these foods is that they can cause you to consume a lot of calories for a small volume of food," says Moody.

Skipping meals

skipping meal concept

Skipping meals—especially breakfast—can lead to overeating later in the day.

"The danger of regularly skipping breakfast is the body's hunger hormones like to compensate for missed meals by eating more later on," explains Moody. "If you've ever skipped breakfast and experienced that familiar hunger pang in the late afternoon, you've probably experienced this effect."

10 Best Total-Body Exercises To Look 10 Years Younger After 40

Not sleeping enough

woman yawning, tired at home

A 2022 review concluded that lack of sleep can disrupt your body's hunger hormones, increasing appetite and cravings for unhealthy foods.

"Without adequate sleep, we could be disrupting multiple body systems, which in turn, may impair fat loss," states Mike Masi, CPT, a certified personal trainer at Garage Gym Reviews. "Sleep deprivation may negatively affect the endocrine system by disrupting the balance of hunger hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin, which signals hunger to the brain, tends to increase with sleep deprivation, while leptin, which signals fullness, decreases. This imbalance can increase appetite and cravings, making it harder to maintain a calorie deficit necessary for fat loss."

Drinking too much alcohol

red wine being poured

Alcohol wreaks havoc on healthy waistlines. It's high in empty calories (seven calories per gram) and can cause weight gain when consumed in large amounts.

"Alcohol consumption—especially in the evening—can disrupt sleep patterns and reduce sleep quality, leading to weight gain. Furthermore, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can negatively affect exercise performance and recovery and metabolic rate, making it more difficult to lose fat," says Masi.

I Drank Green Tea Instead of Coffee for 30 Days & Experienced 4 Life-Changing Benefits

Not paying attention to N.E.A.T.

woman carrying grocery bag

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.) is the amount of calories burned through daily activities besides exercise, like walking, standing, and carrying groceries. Not paying attention to your N.E.A.T. can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and belly fat accumulation.

"When we start to eat less or exercise more, the body will subconsciously compensate by expending less energy throughout the remainder of the day," Masi explains. "This diminishes potential weight loss. One practical way to control this variable is to wear a pedometer that tracks your daily steps to help ensure you move throughout the day and burn calories."

Neglecting strength training

set of hot pink dumbbells

According to the National Institute on Aging, strength training is crucial for building muscle mass, which can help boost your metabolism and incinerate more calories at rest.

"Strength training is effective at building muscle tissue, and muscle tissue is more metabolically active than other tissues in the body," explains Masi. "This means that having more muscle mass will increase how many calories you need to maintain your body weight. Because of this, incorporating strength training will help improve your body composition in the long run."

Unstructured eating

fast-food hot dog

Planning out and preparing healthy meals in advance is always a smart idea.

"If you find yourself in a position where you're hungry and don't have a meal ready to eat, you're more likely to make an unhealthy decision simply because it's quick or convenient," explains Masi. "Planning your meals removes the potential to make that bad decision and helps with weight loss because you're in full control of the quality and quantity of food you consume."

Adam Meyer, RHN
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam
Sources referenced in this article
  1. Source:
  2. Source:
  3. Source:
  4. Source:
  5. Source:
  6. Source:
  7. Source: