Soft Belly Fat One of The Most Demoralising Signs Of Weight Loss Progress

So you've figured out your calories and your macros and you've been following your diet to the letter.

But then after losing a few pounds, the weight loss suddenly stopped.

And there's no progress on the scale for few days, and you might even appear to look slightly fatter in the mirror.

What's going on there? You know you've been on point with your calories and macros, following the intake that puts you in a deficit but there are no results?

The Theory of Squishy Fat

One theory regarding the appearance of “soft” or so-called squishy fat is that when you burn off fat deposits the empty space gets temporarily replaced with water.

I first learned about this concept from Lyle McDonald's blog post Of Whooshes and Squishy Fat

This can be extremely demoralizing for those who are not familiar with the concept. And it can lead to very poor decisions.

Often times, people jump to conclusions and they cut calories further or add more exercise.

This, in return, increases stress (which is already higher due to dieting).

And that increased stress then leads to more water retention further masking progress for even longer.

After a while, even the most dedicated people give up because they think there's no hope.

So what can you do about this?


Aside from cultivating patience which you're going to need a lot of anyway as you're going through your fat loss journey, there are a few tips I can give you to help you deal with this situation.

Unfortunately, it's very hard to diagnose if the plateau is caused by water retention as it's hard to see in the mirror.

Here's what you can do:

As you're hitting your calories based on your estimated deficit you'll probably have 2 conditions:

  1. Sudden stop in weight loss according to the scale. Your average weight was dropping every week and then it suddenly stopped.
  2. A gradual reduction in weight loss over a course of few weeks.

The condition #1 is most likely water retention and it's important not to panic when this happens. A lot of times it just takes a few more days or 1-2 weeks until the scale shows progress.

Most important thing here is to trust the process. And since you're tracking the calories and you're sure that your deficit is in place it's very likely water retention masking the scale number.

Water retention can also be caused by many factors, especially short-term. It can be caused by different foods in your diet, sudden elevations in cortisol due to stress caused by life factors.

Cutting calories further at this point wouldn't be a good idea as you will dump the water eventually.

It's not uncommon to see people stalled for 2-3 weeks to wake up 4-6 pounds lighter overnight just by being patient.

Other solutions:
Try high carb refeeds
– Diet Break to Maintenance
– Destress
– Catch up on sleep. One of the many reasons to get enough sleep is to reduce chronic stress, which, increases water retention.

Thanks for reading!

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  • M

    I’m dealing with the jiggles now… thought I was gaining weight!!

    • That’s a great sign, means the fat is starting to come off!

  • Jason McCrory

    Wow thanks man! I’m down from 305 lbs to 178 right now and I am EXACTLY how you described! Soft belly, boob looking chest etc. This article here gave me the confidence to just ride it out for a while longer and see what comes of it! Thanks again!

    • Awesome man, keep up the good work and good luck on your journey!

  • Yogi

    Great article man. I appear very thin but under that tshirt I’m flabby n soft all around. I had been training heavy weights now a days, so u think this softness has been the result from the training though I never had a fat ass body fat. Cheers!

  • Robo

    Awesome. Best I’ve read about this concerning topic. Thanks for the post.

  • marios

    i understand that i have very low blood circulation at the low belly as this area is always cold. Ive done diet and gym every day and i lost a lot of wait but so whats the final step to do to stretch up??

  • AngelHorseMomMD223

    Really good info! It really freaked me out seeing my legs and feeling softer after all my hard training. For me it’s the back and sides of my thighs the standard area women pack on weight. Good to know it gets better and is just the process!

  • Princess Of Palm Beach

    Thank You for this article 3 years ago. I’ve always been height and weight proportionate and I never have been picked on about my weight until today when a man was criticizing me harshly. I have come to a point where I’ve been losing weight and my body is not as tight as I thought it would be I knew there had to be a process that my body is going through that would be called The Ugly stage just like when an individual is growing out their hair in the beginning there is an ugly stage but then everything comes together I’m so happy to have found one article out of many that answer specifically what my concern was it’s all in the process thank you