If you’re eating well and hitting the gym but the fat’s not falling off, your war on weight could be sabotaged by these unexpected weight-gain traitors.

Lack Of Sleep

Burning the midnight oil? A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found healthy men’s energy expenditure dropped by 5 per cent after a bad night’s sleep.

You’re also more likely to plump for high-calorie comfort foods over healthier choices due to an increase in ghrelin, the hormone that triggers hunger pangs.

These four tricks for better sleep will help you get those much-needed eight hours shut-eye.

A good night's sleep can help you lose weight

Artificial Sweeteners

Any modern man with even a passing interest in health and fitness knows it’s sugar, not fat, keeping your Michelin-man roll where it is. Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners (like the ones found in diet or zero drinks) may not be much better.

A 2014 study from the Weizmann Institute of Science found artificial sweeteners are likely to lead to a gut bacterial configuration that causes glucose intolerance – the forerunner of type-2 diabetes. Leave your hot drinks unsweetened to ditch more calories.

Forgo the sweetener

Dehydration

Latte on the way to work. Cola at the desk. Pint at the pub. We’re so spoiled for beverage choice during the day that plain water often gets forgotten. But hydration isn’t just about keeping cool.

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found your metabolism increases by 30 per cent after drinking just two cups of water; to see that sort of increase, you’d normally have a PT beast you on the battling ropes.

The reverse is also true; if you’re not downing enough H20, your metabolic rate slows down. Keep a bottle handy to beat the belly.

Drink more water to help beat the belly

Stress

With looming problems at work, stress can push you to the finish line at the 11th hour. Alas, it’s not doing anything for your 10k time. Research from Columbia University shows psychological stress is a clear indicator of high blood pressure, known as hypertension, and potential diabetes risks.

Step away from the laptop and detox from work; it’s one sure-fire way to think yourself thin.

Stress can make you fat

Skipping Meals

Out the door before breakfast in the mornings? Grab an apple, at least. Studies from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show your busy lifestyle is packing the pounds on.

While eating breakfast doesn’t make you lose weight directly, it’s shown to reduce your total calorie intake at lunch and dinner because you’re not playing catch-up. Complex wholegrain carbs and protein will ensure you’re bouncing well into lunch – think porridge, not a bacon-and-egg sarnie.

Don't skip breakfast

Washing Your Hands Too Much

A classic catch-22 situation, but it may be your hygiene habits preventing you from burning blubber.

Certain soaps, cleaning products and loads of other industry-manufactured goods carry chemicals off the assembly line. Frequent exposure or ingestion of these chemicals, called phthalates, can change the way you store fat over time, making it easier to gain and harder to lose.

So, next time you’re grocery shopping, make sure you check the labels.

Phthalates in cleaning products and soaps can actually cause weight gain over time

Your Mates Down The Pub

A beer with your support network of male mates is proven to boost your mental state, but it’s those same friends (even over your spouse) that has the most sway over your weight-gain.

A New England Journal of Medicine study followed 12,000 people over 30 years. Those of us with very close friends who are obese have a 171 per cent higher chance of becoming obese too. That extra pint, the sides during meals out, the sedentary lifestyle – all of it contributes.

Encourage those same pals to join in the gym twice a week to turn that peer pressure positive.

Your mates can make you fat