There's no one cure for banishing belly fat. You have to commit to a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious, balanced diet and regular fitness. But before you count every calorie you consume or slave away at crunches, there's an often overlooked component you should consider that could be keeping you burning the last of that stubborn section of fat.
It turns out that a big reason for not losing belly fat is actually much simpler than you think: the amount of sleep you get each night. Body + Soul recently examined this phenomenon, citing research that finds that lack of shut-eye inhibits your fat cells' ability to properly respond to the hormone insulin, necessary for regulating energy storage and use. Thus, sleep deprivation—along with causing a laundry list of other ills that are best avoided—wrecks your metabolism, making it difficult for you to burn away that muffin top regardless of your strict eating habits or workout regimen.
Surprised by these findings? Head to the comments to share your reactions. If you're convinced enough to commit to getting a full night's sleep, check out these pillow sprays that will make you fall asleep quicker.