How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat: 22 Science-Based Tips
Are you looking for ways to get rid of belly fat? If yes, then these tips will help you achieve your goal. Visceral fat is one type of belly fat that’s associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. (1)
Many health organizations use Body Mass Index (BMI) to assess weight and predict the risk for metabolic diseases. However, this is a bit misleading, since people with extra belly fat are at an elevated risk even if they look slim. (2)
It can be hard to lose fat from this area, but there are several things you could do to reduce it. Here are 22 effective ways to lose belly fat, supported by scientific studies.
1. Eat food with soluble fiber
Soluble fiber absorbs moisture and forms a gel that slows down food as it passes by your digestive tract.
Research shows that this kind of fiber helps you feel fuller, so you naturally eat fewer calories. It may also help you lose weight by decreasing the number of calories your stomach absorbs from food. (3, 4, 5).
A study in over 1,000 adults found that for every ten grams of soluble fiber you eat, belly fat decreases by 3.7 percent over five years. (6)
Green vegetables are rich in fiber and low in calories. They keep you full for longer time and prevent overeating. Consume high fiber foods by adding spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cucumber to your regular diet. Oatmeal is high in fiber and protein content. Add oats to breakfast cereal and enjoy a bowlful. Alternatively, cook oatmeal and eat it with milk.
Other excellent sources of soluble fiber include:
- flax seeds
- Brussels sprouts
- chia seeds
- sweet potatoes
2. Avoid trans-fats foods
Some studies have found that eating too much trans fat may increase belly fat gain. Even if you're not trying to lose weight, it's a good idea to limit your intake of trans fats. Hydrogen is pumped into unsaturated fats, like soybean oil, to create trans fats.
They're found in certain margarines and spreads, and they're often added to packaged foods. Eating foods rich in saturated fat has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. (7 8, 9)
A six-year study found that monkeys who ate a high-trans fat diet gained 33% more abdominal fat. (10).
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 referred to as partially hydrogenated oils.
Fats are the main source of energy for your body. But it is also responsible for storing excess calories as fat cells. If you want to burn belly fat, avoid fatty foods like red meat, butter, cream, cheese. Instead eat lean protein such as chicken breast, fish or beans.
Nuts are high in unsaturated fats, which makes them heart friendly. Try almond butter sandwich spread instead of mayonnaise. Avocado is rich in monounsaturated fats, which keeps cholesterol levels under check. It also improves digestion system and boosts immunity.
3. Avoid alcoholic drinks
Alcohol can be beneficial for some people, but drinking too much can cause serious harm. Heavy drinking can also increase your risk of gaining belly fat. You don't need give it up entirely, but limiting the amount of alcohol you consume in one day can help.
Heavy alcohol consumption may be linked to an increased risk of developing central (visceral) obesity. (11, 12).
A study on alcohol consumption involved 2,000 participants People who drank alcohol regularly but were moderate drinkers had lower levels of belly fat than people who didn't drink alcohol at all. (12)
If you want to lose weight, drink alcohol in moderation or avoid it altogether. Alcohol contains empty calories which lead to weight gain. Besides, it may affect your liver function and cause belly fat storage.
Alcohol and other caffeinated drinks increase the level of cortisol hormone in our body. This causes stress which leads to increased appetite. Thus, cutting down these drinks may help you lose belly fat.
4. Eat protein rich foods
Protein is an extremely vital nutrient for weight loss. Eating high amounts of protein increases the release of the satiety hormone PYY, which reduces appetite and promotes fullness. More protein may help you lose weight by raising your metabolic rate and helping you to retain muscle mass. (13, 14, 15)
Many observational studies show people who eat more protein have less abdominal fat. (16, 17, 18) Protein is necessary for building muscle mass and repairing damaged tissues. Include high protein breakfast items like egg whites, cottage cheese, beans, meat, fish, whey protein, and peanut butter is an excellent way to go.
Eggs are a great source of protein and a weight loss tool because it is lean and nutritious. The yolk contains lots of cholesterol, while the white has zero fat and just 7 grams of carbs.
5. Reduce stress levels
Stress has been proved to be one of the major reasons behind belly fat accumulation. Stress can cause your body to produce cortisol, which causes your body to store belly fat.
High levels of cortisol cause insulin resistance and disrupts the normal functioning of thyroid gland. It increase appetite and cause abdominal fat storage. (19, 20). Lowering stress levels naturally reduces belly fat.
Women who already have a large belly tend to produce more cortisol when stressed. (21). Cortisol levels increase when we're stressed. To help reduce belly fat caused by stress, engage in pleasurable activities like yoga or meditation can be effective method to relieve stress.
6. Cut down on sugar intake
Sugar gives an instant boost to your mood and makes you feel good. However, too much sugar intake over long period of time affects metabolism function and causes belly fat storage. Fructose is a type of sugar that contains high amounts of calories. It has been linked to several health issues when consumed in large quantities.
These include heart disease; type 2 diabetes; obesity; and fatty liver disease. (22, 23, 24) .Studies show that high sugar intake increases the risk of belly fat. (25, 26). It’s not just refined sugar that leads to belly fat gain. Also, honey is better than refined sugar. But use it sparingly.
7. Start low-intensity cardio workouts
If you haven’t exercised regularly before, start with low intensity cardio workout. Do both aerobic exercises (like jogging) and strength training workouts daily to lose belly fat.
Cardio exercises are one of the best ways to lose weight and get fit. They're also good at burning calories. However, there is no clear evidence that moderate or high intensity exercise has a greater effect than low intensity exercise. (27, 28, 29).
A study found that postmenopausal women lost more fat from their entire body when they exercised for 300 minutes per week than when they exercised for 150 minutes per week. It has been shown to be particularly effective at reducing your waistline. (30)
You can choose any form of exercise like swimming, biking, brisk walking and running but make sure it doesn’t exceed 30 minutes. Walking is one of the best exercises for losing belly fat. It burns extra calories and improves overall health. If possible, walk daily after dinner instead of sitting on couch.
8. Switch to whole grain foods
Cutting down on refined carbs can help you lose weight, including abdominal fat. Low carb diets cause belly fat loss in overweight people, those at risk for Type 2 Diabetes, and women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). (31, 32, 33).
Replacing refined carbs with unprocessed starch may improve metabolic health and lower belly fat. (34, 35). People who ate the most whole grains were 17% less likely to have excess body fat.(36).
You may want to consider cutting back on your carb intake or replacing processed carbohydrates with healthier carbohydrate sources, such as whole grain breads, beans, or vegetables.
Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, millet provide more fibre than refined ones. This keeps you fuller for longer time and prevents overeating. Also, they contain less calories as compared to refined bread and provide slow release energy to combat fatigue.
9. Do strength training or weight lifting
Strength training is important for maintaining and building muscle mass. Studies involving people with prediabetes, type 2 diabetics, and fatty liver disease suggest that resistance training may also be helpful for belly fat loss. (37, 38).
One study involving teenagers with overweight found that a combination of strength-training and aerobic exercise was the most effective way to lose visceral fat (39). Studies show that resistance training may help you lose belly fat. However, if you decide to start lifting, it's important to get advice from a qualified personal trainer.
Strength training can be a useful weight loss strategy and may improve your body composition. Studies show that it's even more effective when combined with aerobic exercises. Working out make your muscles stronger and burn extra calories. If you do resistance training with light weights, it’ll be even better.
10. Avoid sugary drinks
Fructose is a type of sugar found in sugary drinks. It can cause weight gain by increasing your appetite and making you crave foods high in calories.
Studies show that sugared drinks increase the risk of fatty liver disease. A 10-week study found that participants who drank sugary beverages gained significantly more abdominal fat than those who drank water. (40, 41, 42)
Consuming sugary drinks increases the risk of belly fat accumulation. Limit your sugar intake to control cravings and maintain stable blood glucose levels. Replace regular soda with fresh fruit juices.
Since your brain doesn’t process liquid calories the same as it does solid ones, it's likely that you'll consume too many calories later on, and store them as fat. (43, 44). Avoiding all liquid sugars like soda, sweet tea, punch, is very important if you want to lose weight.
11. Get enough sleep
Sleep plays an important role in maintaining hormonal balance and regulating appetite hormones. Lack of sleep leads to increased hunger and craving for junk food. Hence, getting enough sleep every night is very crucial for reducing belly fat.
Sleep is important for so many aspects of your health. Studies show that people with less sleep tend to gain more fat, including belly fat. (45, 46). Women who sleep less than five hours per night are more likely to gain weight compared to women who sleep seven hours or more per night. (47).
Sleep apnea, where breathing pauses intermittently during sleep, has also been linked with excess visceral fat. (48).
Sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of weight loss. If you want to lose weight and improve both your physical and mental health, then getting enough high quality sleep should definitely be one of your top priorities.
12. Keep track your food intake
Eating less than your body requires for weight maintenance is key. (49).Tracking your calorie intake can help you keep track of your daily caloric intake. This strategy has been proven to be effective for weight loss. (50, 51).
It's also helpful to use a food tracking app to keep track of your intake of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and micronutrients. Some fitness trackers also let you record your exercise and physical activities.
It's always a good idea for people who want to lose weight to keep track of what they eat. One of the best ways to keep track of what you eat is by keeping a food diary or using a food tracker.
13. Eat fatty fish
Fish are incredibly healthy. They contain high quality protein and omega 3 fatty acids that protect you from disease. (52, 53). Some evidence suggests that they may also help reduce visceral belly fat.
Fish oil supplements can help reduce liver and abdominal fat in people with fatty liver disease. (54, 55, 56).
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Eat salmon two to three times a week. You can bake salmon steaks in oven or grill them over fire. Other good choices includes sardines, and anchovies.
14. Avoid drinking fruit juice
Fruit juice is just as high in sugar and calories as sodas and other sugary drinks. Drinking large amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages may increase your risk of gaining abdominal fat. (57).
An 8-ounce serving of unsweetened applesauce contains 24 grams of sugar. Half of that is fructose. (58). Fruit juices can be just as bad for weight gain as sugary sodas. To lose weight, avoid all sources of liquid sugar.
15. Drink apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has some impressive health benefits, including reducing blood sugar levels and helping you lose weight. (59) It contains acetic acid, which has been shown to reduce abdominal fat storage in several animal studies (60, 61, 62).
Apple cider vinegar may be helpful for losing weight. Studies show that taking it before bedtime may help to reduce belly fat.
16. Consume probiotic foods or supplement
Probiotics are bacteria that are found in some foods and dietary supplements like Kefir and Kombucha. Yogurt is beneficial for digestion and healthy gut flora. Include yogurt in your diet three times a week.
Probiotics have many health advantages, including helping improve gut function and enhance immune function (64). Researchers have found that different types play a role in weight control and that having the right mix can help with weight loss.
Probiotics, which include members of the Lactobacillus family, such a Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobaccillus amylovorus, and especially Lactobaccillus gasseri, have been shown to reduce belly fat. (65, 66, 67, 68.)
Taking probiotic supplements might help promote a healthy digestive tract. Studies also suggest that having beneficial gut bacteria may help people lose weight.
17. Consider intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is a recent fad for weight loss. It involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. (69).
Another way to lose weight is to fast every day for 16 hours, then eat all your food within an eight-hour period.Studies on intermittent fasting and alternate day fasting show that people experience a 4–7% reduction in abdominal fat within 6 to 24 weeks. (70). However, some modified intermittent fasting methods may be better than others, but you should stop fasting if you experience any negative side effects.
18. Drink green tea
Green tea is a very healthy drink containing caffeine and the antioxidant epicatechin gallate (ECG). Both of these substances appear to boost metabolism. (71, 72). Green tea consumption may be strengthened by combining it with regular exercise. (73, 74, 75)
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and caffeine, drinking it regularly has been linked to weight loss and reduce belly fat. Boil few cups of green tea leaves in water for 5-7 minutes. Strain and drink at least 3 cups per day.
19. Drink more water
Drinking plenty of water helps in digestion process. It flushes out toxins from our system and helps us stay hydrated. Hence, drinking 8 glasses of water every day will help you lose belly fat faster.
Drinking water helps in flushing out toxins from your system and also maintains hydration levels in your body. It also aids digestion process and boosts up metabolism.
20. Have healthy snacks
It is important to have a well balanced meal at least three times a day to gain optimal results. Having snacks between meals provides you with energy and nutrients required for proper growth and development.
Therefore, having healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, milk products, yogurt, eggs etc. will help you achieve your fitness goals.
21. Don't skip breakfast
Breakfast is considered as the most important meal of the day. Skipping this meal may result in skipping other meals as well. Make sure you eat something nutritious like oatmeal or smoothie in the morning.
22. Change your lifestyle
It's hard to lose weight and keep it off unless you permanently change your eating habits and lifestyle. To get good results, you need a combination of different methods that have been proven to be effective.
Many of these methods are things that are generally associated with a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, changing your life style for the long term is key to losing your belly fat and keeping it off.
There are no magic solutions to weight loss. You need to make an effort, commit yourself, and persevere. Adopting some of these strategies and lifestyle goals will definitely help you lose those extra pounds around your waist.