The Real Reasons You Can’t Shed Lower Back Fat (and How You Can Trim Your Waistline)

Shedding fat is no easy feat, no matter where you’re trying to lose. And one trouble spot that continually plagues folks from all walks of life is the lower back. Excess fat tends to accumulate here for a variety of reasons — and even with the best workout regimen, it can prove persistent.

Having trouble sculpting your lower back? Here are the reasons why, and what you can do for a trimmer waist.

Why you’re still fighting back bulge despite your best efforts

Woman in pink pants measuring her waist

Woman in pink pants measuring her waist | Marina Zg/iStock/Getty Images Plus

You’re consuming more calories than you’re burning:

While it seems like lower back fat accumulation can be solved through exercise alone, spot-treating trouble areas through exercise won’t help you here. You need to make sure your diet is on point first to help you shed fat levels on your body overall. Once you’re burning more calories than you’re taking in, you’ll notice a reduction in lower back fat.

Cut out high-carb and high-fat foods first, like your fried and sugary favorites. Not only do these foods offer you little in terms of nutritional value, but they’re typically high in calories. Eating plenty of high-fiber veggies, lean proteins (think white meat chicken and fish here), and whole grains will help keep you fuller for longer through the day so you’re not reaching for a snack that can sabotage your weight-loss goals.

You should also consider tracking your calories if you’re serious about weight loss and back fat reduction. Calculate how many calories you need per day and then subtract 500 from your daily amount to lose 1 pound per week.

You’re only doing cardio:

Running, biking, and hopping on the elliptical are great to get your sweat on — but if that’s all you’re doing, you’ll want to reevaluate your gym time. Cardio is useful for burning calories in the moment, but Muscle & Fitness reminds us that strength training is vital for defining your waist and increasing your metabolism so you burn more calories at rest. Do yourself (and your waistline) a favor and add in at least 20 minutes of weight training if you’re going in for an hour of gym time.

You’re drinking too much alcohol:

Yes, alcohol can completely sabotage any contouring of your lower back you wish to achieve. WebMD explains when you’re drinking alcohol, your liver is burning off the alcohol instead of fat during and after consumption, which can lead to the dreaded “beer belly.” Additionally, it can be easy to overdo it on calories when you’re drinking. Make sure you’re limiting your alcohol consumption if you hope to trim away excess lower back fat.

Tips for a trim waistline

A man with a very fit back

A man with a very fit back | iStock.com

Eat high-fiber and protein-rich foods:

Getting your diet on point is the most crucial part of eliminating lower back fat. And when you’re getting all the necessary nutrients you need, you’ll also find you’re more energized and prepared for your toughest workouts.

As for proteins, add more eggs, beans, oats, and fish into your diet. Not only can you get these meal components at any grocery store relatively cheap, but they’ll keep you full all day long so you won’t reach for any unhealthy snacks. High-fiber foods you should consider eating more of are any leafy green or cruciferous veggie, apples, and potatoes.

Work your whole back and core, not just your lower back:

As stated before, an all-cardio routine will only get you so far. It’s resistance training that’s key when it comes to giving your back that sculpted look you’ve always wanted. Muscle & Fitness notes there are four main muscles in your back: the rhomboids and trapezius in the upper, the lattissimus dorsi in the middle, and the erector spinae in the lower. You may be tempted just to work your lower back, but you should aim to hit all of these main muscles for serious definition.

As for exercises you should be doing, Eat This, Not That! notes planks, weighted rows, push-ups, and side crunches are all ideal. This 10-minute back workout is one to keep in your back pocket, too.

Make sure you’re resting: 

Remember that rest is key! If you’re working out five to six days per week and not properly resting, you won’t see the gains you’re hoping for. Additionally, getting enough sleep can help you keep stress levels at bay, which is vital for assisting with weight loss. Take regular rest days away from the gym and enjoy time spent with family and friends.

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