How to Lose Belly Fat: 11 Effective Ways Backed by Science

Belly fat is a common problem, especially in those carrying extra weight. Here are 11 effective ways to lose belly fat for a flat tummy.

Carrying too much fat around your belly is not only bothersome but seriously harmful.

Studies have linked this type of fat with a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes 1, 2. On the flip side, losing fat in your abdomen area will help you circumvent these worst-case scenarios.

If you’re overweight,

“the only way to lose belly fat is by reducing your overall body fat percentage,”

says Christel Oerum, Co-Founder and Head Coach of Diabetes Strong. But those with a healthy BMI can have a belly pooch too.

So, if you’re wondering how to lose belly fat, no matter if you’re overweight or slim with a pooch, here are 11 science-backed ways and expert tips on belly fat loss.

1. Cut Down on Carbs

Too many of the wrong carbs can lead to overeating and weight gain. And it will make losing belly fat impossible 3.

Reduce your carb intake to around 60% of your daily calories or even less if considering a low-carb diet like keto. Another thing to focus on is carb quality.

sugary_foods
High carb foods are not beneficial for weight loss.

 

Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, the Co-Founder of MedAlertHelp explains that an easy way to lose belly fat is “by replacing white carbs with whole-grain alternatives.”
He suggests ditching regular rice for brown rice and white bread for wholewheat.

“Whole grains pack much more protein, a nutrient that increases satiety,”

says Dr. Djordjevic.

Whole grains also contain fiber, which refined grains typically do not. Fiber provides little calories and curbs appetite as explained in a recent study review 4.

2. Try Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a fancy way of referring to periodic breaks from eating.

Also known as time-restricted feeding or mini fasting, these fasts typically last from 16 to 24 hours. Studies show they work just as good as calorie restriction 5.

But how is this so?

intermittent_fasting

Intermittent fasting helps reduce your waist line.

According to Kellyann Petrucci, MS, ND, “two hormones are targeted during a mini-fast: insulin and glucagon.” Fasting lowers insulin and raises glucagon.

“When insulin levels are low, the body processes glucose rather than store it as fat,”

explains Petrucci. “Glucagon breaks body fat in a process called lipolysis, so the body can use it for energy.”

And while intermittent fasting can work wonders on its own, if paired with keto and other weight-loss diets is an even stronger belly fat burner.

3. Do a Lot of Cardio Exercises

Cardio exercises include running, swimming, cycling, jumping jacks, and mountain climbing. You’ll recognize the best cardio workout for weight loss by its ability to get your heart pumping.

But even everyday physical activity like stair climbing, walking, and house cleaning can count as cardio.

What people often get wrong about these workouts is that it’s not just there to boost aerobic fitness; they really can replace diets for weight loss. One study even found people lost up to 13 pounds with cardio alone 6.

cardio_excercises
Cardio can enhance fat burning.

 

So, what exercise burns the most belly fat?

According to certified personal trainer Melissa Vogel, a type of cardio workout called HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).

“HIIT workouts are a great way to exercise that only require a shorter amount of gym time (20-30 min for 2-3 days a week), yet are extremely effective at burning belly fat,”

says Vogel.

“The reason that HITT workouts efficiently burn belly fat is because this type of workout allows your body to continue burning body fat even after you’ve completed your session,” explains Vogel.

4. Increase Protein in Your Diet

Protein is the most filling of the three macros, followed by carbs and fat.

Protein also makes your body burn calories while it’s being digested 7. This is known as thermogenesis or the production of heat as a byproduct of metabolism.

So, protein is your belly-fat-burning dream come true. But don’t go overboard with it!

Too much protein can cause frail bones, kidney stones, liver problems, worsening of cardiovascular diseases, and it can even increase your risk of cancer 8.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 g protein per kg of body weight (0.38 g per pound) daily. That’s around 46 g for your average woman or 56 g for the average man.

protein_rich_foods

High-protein food curbs hunger.

Foods rich in protein include meat, fish, eggs, yogurt, soy products, legumes, and nuts. However, even veggies and whole grains can add protein to your daily diet. To check if you’re meeting your daily protein needs, use a diet tracker like MyFitnessPal or Cronometer.

5. Avoid Sugary Foods & Beverages

A study of over 2,500 men and women found that people who drank sugary beverages daily were 10% more likely to have belly fat 9.

What’s worse, they tended to have more visceral fat Visceral fat is a type of fat stored inside the abdominal cavity. It’s the fat that’s surrounding your organs, and it’s one of the unhealthiest fats to have.

carbonated_drinks
Added sugar contributes to belly fat.

 

So, if you’re really wondering how to lose tummy fat, start by avoiding food and drinks with added sugar.

If you’re addicted to sweets, try cutting back on sugar. Packaged sweets and sugary drinks have too much sugar in them. Reduce your sugar intake by making homemade desserts with minimal added sugar. Another option is using zero-calorie sweeteners like erythritol or stevia.

6. Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol

alcoholic-drinks

Too much alcohol adds up to your calorie intake.

Do you have a beer belly? It might have to do with your drinking habits.

A 2009 study on over 20,000 people found that the more beer you drink, the wider your waistline gets 10. The researchers explained this was because excessive beer drinking causes excessive calorie intake and subsequent weight gain, especially around the waist.

And this problem isn’t limited to beer. All alcoholic beverages contain calories. A 12 oz can of beer has 100-350 calories, a serving of gin 116 calories, a Margarita 170 calories, a glass of white wine around 130 calories.

You need to run a 10-minute mile to burn 100 of those calories. Do you plan to run a 10-minute mile after a night out at the pub? If not, best to keep your intake to 1-2 units per day. It just might end up being the best way to lose belly fat.

7. Reduce Your Stress Levels

Stress wears us down, it damages our health, and it makes us fat.

Animal and human studies found a strong link between chronic stress and abdominal and visceral fat 11. They also found that stress puts your brain and glands into overdrive, which wreaks havoc on your metabolism.

stress_reduction
Stress-reduction techniques can aid with weight loss.

 

So, before you go on asking “how can I lose my belly fat in a week?”, just stop. Don’t cause yourself undue stress and start with a solid stress-management technique.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises, afternoon walks, less time on social media, and time management are all great examples to consider.

What you should do for stress management, of course, depends on what is causing your stress.

8. Monitor Your Food Intake

It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your eating habits when trying to burn belly fat.

One way to do that is with a diet tracker app. You can also keep a food diary and even make weekly meal plans to stick to.

Monitoring your food intake can help you eat within set calorie limits. On the other hand, it’s really easy to overeat if you don’t watch what you eat.

A study in the Journal of Diabetes Research found that consistent food trackers lost more weight than their inconsistent counterparts 12. So, if you take food tracking seriously, you’re more than likely to stick to healthy eating patterns and lose belly fat along the way.

diet_tracker_app

A diet tracker app helps you hold yourself accountable.

9. Increase Your Fiber Intake

What foods help burn belly fat the most?

Every health food connoisseur will tell you it’s high-fiber foods like whole grains, fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

nuts_and_seeds
Nuts and seeds are good sources of fiber.

 

Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. Although the body doesn’t digest it, it’s still essential. It adds bulk to stool, slows down digestion, curbs blood glucose spikes, balances out gut bacteria, reduces appetite, and improves metabolic health. All this can translate to a flatter tummy.

A study on 252 women trying to lose weight even found that for every 1 g of fiber consumed, there was a 0.25 kg weight loss 13.

The researchers concluded the probable reason fiber was associated with weight loss because it makes people eat less.

10. Take Probiotics Supplements

yogurt

Yogurt is a source of slimming probiotics.

Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that benefit gut health.

They’re naturally found in yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, kombucha, pickles, and other fermented foods.

Heating probiotic foods kills these friendly bacteria, so do eat them raw and fresh. But another option is taking them in supplement form. Probiotics will improve your gut health, and better gut health helps with weight loss in the long run.

Some researchers believe that taking probiotics provides health benefits beyond the gut 14. For example, they strengthen the immune system, lower blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and even reduce anxiety and depression.

11. Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Diet

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a source of acetic acid, a compound that research found to suppress body fat accumulation in animal studies and weight gain in humans 15.

apple_cider_vinegar
Vinegar improves glucose metabolism.

 

Acetic acid from apple cider helps reduce belly fat by preventing blood glucose spikes, reducing fat accumulation, upregulating fat burning, increasing bile acid production. It may also work by suppressing appetite and improving gut health.

You can include more of this belly-fat burner by adding it to your salad dressings and mayonnaise. You can also make a drink containing 1-2 tbsp of ACV to take every morning for weight management. Apple cider can also be used alongside your keto diet to enhance its blood glucose-lowering effects.

Conclusion

To conclude, losing belly fat isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible.

Most strategies that work to fight belly fat aim to help you lose overall fat. However, some, which we’ve outlined here, are known to target visceral fat – the type of fat most responsible for belly pooches, beer bellies, and their accompanying health problems.

Follow these tips to melt stubborn belly fat for a slimmer waistline and good health.

REFERENCES:

  1. Fan H et. al. Abdominal obesity is strongly associated with Cardiovascular Disease and its Risk Factors in Elderly and very Elderly Community-dwelling Chinese. 2016February 17 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4756331/

  2. Freemantle N et al. How strong is the association between abdominal obesity and the incidence of type 2 diabetes? 2008 September - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658023/

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