Too much belly fat can increase your risk of certain chronic conditions. Drinking less alcohol, eating more protein, and lifting weights are just a few steps you can take to lose belly fat.
Too much belly fat can increase your risk of certain chronic conditions. Drinking less alcohol, eating more protein, and lifting weights are just a few steps you can take to lose belly fat. Belly fat is more than a nuisance that makes your clothes feel tight. It’s seriously harmful.
One type of belly fat — referred to as visceral fat — is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions (1Trusted Source). Many health organizations use body mass index (BMI) to classify weight and predict the risk of metabolic disease.
However, this is misleading, as people with excess belly fat are at an increased risk even if they look thin (2Trusted Source). Though losing fat from this area can be difficult, there are several things you can do to reduce excess abdominal fat.
Here are 19 effective tips to lose belly fat, backed by scientific studies.
Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel that helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system. Studies show that this type of fiber promotes weight loss by helping you feel full, so you naturally eat less. It may also decrease the number of calories your body absorbs from food (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
What’s more, soluble fiber may help fight belly fat. An observational study in over 1,100 adults found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber intake, belly fat gain decreased by 3.7% over a 5-year period (6Trusted Source).
Trans fats are created by pumping hydrogen into unsaturated fats, such as soybean oil. They’re found in some margarines and spreads and also often added to packaged foods, but many food producers have stopped using them.
A 6-year study found that monkeys who ate a high trans fat diet gained 33% more abdominal fat than those eating a diet high in monounsaturated fat (10Trusted Source).
To help reduce belly fat and protect your health, read ingredient labels carefully and stay away from products that contain trans fats. These are often listed as partially hydrogenated fats.
3. Don’t drink too much alcohol
Alcohol can have health benefits in small amounts, but it’s seriously harmful if you drink too much.
Research suggests that too much alcohol can also make you gain belly fat. Observational studies link heavy alcohol consumption to a significantly increased risk of developing central obesity — that is, excess fat storage around the waist (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
Cutting back on alcohol may help reduce your waist size. You don’t need to give it up altogether, but limiting the amount you drink in a single day can help.
One study on alcohol use involved more than 2,000 people. Results showed those who drank alcohol daily but averaged less than one drink per day had less belly fat than those who drank less frequently but consumed more alcohol on the days they drank (12Trusted Source).
Protein is an extremely important nutrient for weight management. High protein intake increases the release of the fullness hormone PYY, which decreases appetite and promotes fullness. Protein also raises your metabolic rate and helps you to retain muscle mass during weight loss (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Be sure to include a good protein source at every meal, such as: meat , fish , eggs , dairy , whey protein & beans
Stress can make you gain belly fat by triggering the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. Research shows that high cortisol levels increase appetite and drive abdominal fat storage (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
To help reduce belly fat, engage in pleasurable activities that relieve stress. Practicing yoga or meditation can be effective methods.
Sugar contains fructose, which has been linked to several chronic diseases when consumed in excess. These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver disease (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Observational studies show a relationship between high sugar intake and increased abdominal fat (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source). It’s important to realize that more than just refined sugar can lead to belly fat gain. Even healthier sugars, such as real honey, should be used sparingly.
Aerobic exercise (cardio) is an effective way to improve your health and burn calories. Studies also show that it’s one of the most effective forms of exercise for reducing belly fat. However, results are mixed as to whether moderate or high intensity exercise is more beneficial (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
In any case, the frequency and duration of your exercise program are more important than its intensity. One study found that postmenopausal women lost more fat from all areas when they did aerobic exercise for 300 minutes per week, compared with those who exercised 150 minutes per week (30Trusted Source).
Reducing your carb intake can be very beneficial for losing fat, including abdominal fat. Diets with under 50 grams of carbs per day cause belly fat loss in people who are overweight, those at risk for type 2 diabetes, and women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source).
You don’t have to follow a strict low carb diet. Some research suggests that simply replacing refined carbs with unprocessed starchy carbs may improve metabolic health and reduce belly fat (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
In the famous Framingham Heart Study, people with the highest consumption of whole grains were 17% less likely to have excess abdominal fat than those who consumed diets high in refined grains (36Trusted Source).
Resistance training, also known as weight lifting or strength training, is important for preserving and gaining muscle mass. Based on studies involving people with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver disease, resistance training may also be beneficial for belly fat loss (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
If you decide to start lifting weights, it’s a good idea to get advice from a certified personal trainer.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are loaded with liquid fructose, which can make you gain belly fat. Studies show that sugary drinks lead to increased fat in the liver. One 10-week study found significant abdominal fat gain in people who consumed high fructose beverages (40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).
Sugary beverages appear to be even worse than high sugar foods. Since your brain doesn’t process liquid calories the same way it does solid ones, you’re likely to end up consuming too many calories later on and storing them as fat (43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source).
To lose belly fat, it’s best to completely avoid sugar-sweetened beverages such as: soda , punch , sweet tea , alcoholic mixers containing sugar
Sleep is important for many aspects of your health, including weight. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to gain more weight, which may include belly fat (45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).
A 16-year study involving more than 68,000 women found that those who slept less than 5 hours per night were significantly more likely to gain weight than those who slept 7 hours or more per night (47Trusted Source).
In addition to sleeping at least 7 hours per night, make sure you’re getting sufficient quality sleep. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, speak to a doctor and get treated.
12. Track your food intake and exercise
Keeping a food diary or using an online food tracker or app can help you monitor your calorie intake. This strategy has been shown to be beneficial for weight loss (50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source).
In addition, food-tracking tools help you to see your intake of protein, carbs, fiber, and micronutrients. Many also allow you to record your exercise and physical activity.
You can find five free apps/websites to track nutrient and calorie intake on this page.
Fatty fish are incredibly healthy. They’re rich in high quality protein and omega-3 fats that protect you from disease (52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source). Some evidence suggests that these omega-3 fats may also help reduce visceral fat.
Aim to get 2–3 servings of fatty fish per week. Good choices include:
salmon , herring , sardines , mackerel & anchovies
14. Stop drinking fruit juice
Although fruit juice provides vitamins and minerals, it’s just as high in sugar as soda and other sweetened beverages. Drinking large amounts may carry the same risk for abdominal fat gain (57Trusted Source).
An 8-ounce (240-mL) serving of unsweetened apple juice contains 24 grams of sugar, half of which is fructose (58). To help reduce excess belly fat, replace fruit juice with water, unsweetened iced tea, or sparkling water with a wedge of lemon or lime.
Drinking apple cider vinegar has impressive health benefits, including lowering blood sugar levels (59Trusted Source). It contains acetic acid, which has been shown to reduce abdominal fat storage in several animal studies (60Trusted Source, 61Trusted Source, 62Trusted Source).
In a 12-week controlled study in men diagnosed with obesity, those who took 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of apple cider vinegar per day lost half an inch (1.4 cm) from their waists (63Trusted Source).
Taking 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) of apple cider vinegar per day is safe for most people and may lead to modest fat loss. However, be sure to dilute it with water, as undiluted vinegar can erode the enamel on your teeth. If you want to try apple cider vinegar, there’s a good selection to choose from online.
Researchers have found that different types of bacteria play a role in weight regulation and that having the right balance can help with weight loss, including loss of belly fat.
Those shown to reduce belly fat include members of the Lactobacillus family, such as Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus amylovorus and especially Lactobacillus gasseri (65Trusted Source, 66, 67Trusted Source, 68Trusted Source). Probiotic supplements typically contain several types of bacteria, so make sure you purchase one that provides one or more of these bacterial strains.
One popular method involves 24-hour fasts once or twice a week. Another consists of fasting every day for 16 hours and eating all your food within an 8-hour period. In a review of studies on intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting, people experienced a 4–7% decrease in abdominal fat within 6–24 weeks (70).
There’s some evidence that intermittent fasting, and fasting in general, may not be as beneficial for women as for men. Although certain modified intermittent fasting methods appear to be better options, stop fasting immediately if you experience any negative effects.
18. Drink green tea
Green tea is an exceptionally healthy beverage. It contains caffeine and the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), both of which appear to boost metabolism (71Trusted Source, 72Trusted Source).
EGCG is a catechin, which several studies suggest may help you lose belly fat. The effect may be strengthened when green tea consumption is combined with exercise (73Trusted Source, 74, 75Trusted Source)
19. Change your lifestyle and combine different methods
Just doing one of the items on this list won’t have a big effect on its own.If you want good results, you need to combine different methods that have been shown to be effective.
Interestingly, many of these methods are things generally associated with healthy eating and an overall healthy lifestyle. Therefore, changing your lifestyle for the long term is the key to losing your belly fat and keeping it off. When you have healthy habits and eat real food, fat loss tends to follow as a natural side effect.
There are no magic solutions to losing belly fat.Weight loss always requires some effort, commitment, and perseverance on your behalf. Successfully adopting some or all of the strategies and lifestyle goals discussed in this article will definitely help you lose the extra pounds around your waist.