7 Mistakes Moms Make When Trying to Lose Belly Fat

In this post I’m going to be breaking down typical Belly fat mistakes for moms. These are mistakes that I’ve seen again and again throughout my career as a fitness coach. This post will be helping you get past these mistakes and lose belly fat, fast!

In my many years as a fitness coach working with women and moms especially, I’ve found that if you asked which body part they most want to change, 9 out of 10 women would say their belly.

This comes as no surprise since the belly often holds on to some of the most stubborn fat. Not only that, but it is also prone to other things that make it look bigger than it should. Things like bloating, as well as things common in moms like diastasis recti and loose skin from pregnancy. Now, let’s just get this out of the way before we get on with the advice: you can’t spot reduce fat. Meaning, this blog is NOT going to give you some miracle belly fat reducing tips or anything. You can’t pick and choose where the fat comes off your body.

That being said, by exercising and eating right, body recomposition can happen, where you lose overall body fat and build muscle simultaneously. So without further ado, here are some of the biggest mistakes moms make when trying to lose belly fat.

Common belly fat mistakes for moms

Mistake 1: You’re eating too much

“Well duh, that’s what got me here to begin with Nathalia!” I know this one is obvious and you’re probably shaking your head at me now…but the reality is that most people grossly underestimate how much they eat each day. Not only that, but they also tend to overestimate how many calories they’ve burned through exercise.  Weight loss, in its very basic form, is all about being in a calorie deficit. It’s not about some miracle herb from deep within hidden jungles, or about cutting out entire food groups, or anything like that.

It’s simply about burning more calories than you take in. At this point, your body will begin burning fat for fuel. You can be in a calorie deficit by taking a two-pronged approach: exercise in order to burn more calories and watch what you’re eating in order to be sure you’re taking in fewer calories than you’re burning. You need to calculate your TDEE and then from there figure out the ideal number of calories to take off from that amount, which becomes your daily calorie target. 

Mistake 2: You’re drinking your calories

One of the big pitfalls when it comes to watching your food intake is drinking away your calories. We tend to think of drinks as not that big of a deal. If you’re eating oatmeal and salad and chicken all day and staying on track, but then you have a latte with breakfast, glass of juice for lunch, another coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up, and a can of soda with dinner, well, you’ve just drastically upped your calorie count for the day. These “silent calories” most definitely count! Your body doesn’t care whether they’re in solid food form or liquid form, they’re all calories to your body. 

Still not convinced it could be your drinks sabotaging your fat loss goals? Let’s take a look at some common drinks and their calorie content, including some healthier choices:

Starbucks Venti Caramel Macchiato: 310 calories

Starbucks grande latte with whole milk: 223 calories

Can of Coca Cola: 140 calories

1 Glass Orange Juice: 110 calories

Now, don’t worry, I’m not saying you can’t have your morning coffee or should cut out juice completely, but be mindful of the calories you’re consuming. Swap out the sugary, whipped cream-topped specialty coffee shop beverage for a coffee with just a pinch of sweetener if you need it and a lower calorie milk choice. For juice, yes it’s fruit, but it’s lacking the natural fiber content of fruit that contributes to feeling full, so limit juice. If you love fruit drinks, try a smoothie instead with whole blended fruit and some protein powder to make a meal out of it. 

Mistake 3: You’re eating too much ‘healthy food’

This plays into the fact that many underestimate their calories. If you’re eating too much healthy food, well, yes it’s better than eating too much junk food, but it’s still too much food, and still sabotages your fat loss plans. Many healthy foods are low in calories and there are certainly a few you could pretty much eat with abandon like celery or lettuce. BUT there are also high calorie health foods that need to be watched carefully.

This includes foods like avocados, nuts (very easy to overdo while snacking), oils like olive oil and coconut oil…etc. These are all very healthy foods and excellent for you, but in moderation. In excess they’ll quickly drive up your calorie count.  So, while it is important to have a balanced and healthy diet, in order to lose body fat you need to make sure you’re staying in a calorie deficit

Mistake 4: You’re not optimizing your workout routine

With the time limitations moms have, you want to get the most ‘’bang for your buck’’ when exercising, so you want to make sure that your exercise selection will get you closer to your goals. For example, compound movements like a squat and a deadlift burn more calories than a biceps curl or crunches. By optimizing your workout routine, you can take the same amount of time and burn twice the amount of calories and/or work twice the amount of muscle groups. I don’t know about you, but for me, as a mom of two little ones, I’d rather spend half the time in the gym with just as much gains! After all, they say we women are masters of multitasking! Take advantage of that and maximize your workout!

Mistake 5: You’re not accurately tracking how much you’re eating 

Going back to calorie counting, accurate tracking is absolutely key. From my experience as a coach, one of the biggest reasons why moms struggle to get rid of their belly fat is because they think that just because it was “just a bite’’, or “just a handful’’ the calories don’t count. Nothing could be further from the truth! Just a handful of chips or pretzels can easily rack up 50-100 calories! And a quarter cup of walnuts (comes out to about a handful) is 196 calories! 

Add to that the little extras like oil used to coat the pan while cooking, sauces, and condiments. Those are often forgotten when counting calories, or just overlooked as if they’re not that much. But these add up! You can easily rack up an extra few hundred calories from snacking, taking a bit of this and that while cooking, helping your child finish their food, etc.

Mistake 6: Lack of sleep

Ok moms, this one will speak directly to your soul! Sleep is so very important, but we moms tend to be on such a sleep deficit. Long nights with a newborn. Up with a sick toddler. Comforting a child after a nightmare. Or just those nights where you FINALLY get some alone time and just want to mindlessly scroll through your phone for some “me time”, only to fall asleep at like 1 a.m. when you need to get the kids to school by 7:30 a.m.! 

Why is sleep important to losing belly fat, and fat in general, though?

Lack of sleep can affect your satiety and fullness hormones (leptin and ghrelin). This means you might feel hungrier during the day after a night of little sleep. No amount of food will make you feel full. Which then will lead you to have a higher caloric intake without even really thinking about it. Lack of sleep also leads to feeling lethargic. And when you’re feeling fatigued after a night of little sleep, that means you will be moving around less during the day. This reduces the number of calories you’re burning throughout the day, further complicating your fat loss efforts.

Mistake 7: You might have Diastasis Recti

What if your belly fat isn’t really even all belly fat? Let me explain. Diastasis Recti, or DRA, is the abdominal separation that happens to all pregnant women by the time they get to the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. The connective tissue between the abdominal walls- the linea alba- stretches and creates a gap between the two rectus abdominis muscles (aka your six-pack muscles). 

After pregnancy, most of the time the two abdominal bellies come closer together again, and the connective tissue regains its elasticity.  However, this doesn’t always resolve itself, especially if it was severe during pregnancy. When DRA doesn’t resolve, and there is a “mom pooch’’, it is possible it’s actually diastasis recti. If you’re wondering if this could be you, the best professional to properly diagnose this is a pelvic floor physical therapist (PFPT).

These physical therapists specialize in a mom’s body and the unique changes a woman’s body goes through after pregnancy. A PFPT can give you special physical therapy exercises to help bring the muscles safely back together. If this is the case for you, it is INCREDIBLY important that you also work with a pre and postnatal trainer (like me!). We specialize in moms and can offer the adequate exercise modifications and new breathing techniques that might need to be applied so you can best engage your abdominal muscles without worsening the diastasis recti. 

How many of these mistakes are you making?

If you’re feeling motivated to fix these common mistakes, and get rid of not only the belly fat but also have a toned and fit body, I have THE challenge for you. Join my 5 Week Super Shred Challenge and learn how to calorie count the right way, learn how to optimize your workout routine for maximum gains, and more. You got this, I know you do, but you just need to take that next step!

Learn more about the 5 Week Super Shred Challenge here!

For more tips and inspiration make sure to follow me on Pinterest (@nathaliamelofit). Make sure to share this post to help other ladies learn about these belly fat mistakes for moms.