By Franziska Spritzler
Belly fat is more than just a nuisance that makes your clothes feel tight. Fat inside the belly area is also termed visceral fat, and can be seriously harmful. Although losing fat from this area can be difficult, there are several things you can do to reduce excess abdominal fat leading to a happier, healthier life style.
Here are 17 effective tips to lose belly fat, backed by scientific studies.
Eat Plenty of Soluble Fibre
Make an effort to consume high-fibre foods every day. Excellent sources of soluble fibre include flaxseeds, shirataki noodles, Brussels sprouts, avocados, legumes and blackberries.
Soluble fibre absorbs water and forms a gel that helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system.
Studies show this type of fibre promotes weight loss by helping you feel full so you naturally eat less. It may also decrease the amount of calories your body absorb from food
2. Avoid Foods That Contain Trans Fats
These fats have been linked to inflammation, heart disease, insulin resistance and abdominal fat gain in observational and animal studies
They’re found in some margarines and spreads, and look out for them in packaged foods.
To help reduce belly fat and protect your health, read ingredient labels as they are often listed as “partially hydrogenated” fats.
3. Limit Your Alcohol
Research suggests too much alcohol can also make you gain belly fat.
In a study of more than 2000 people, 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 did drink
So, cutting back on alcohol may help reduce your waist size. You don’t need to give it up altogether if you enjoy it, but limiting the amount you drink in a single day can help.
4. Eat a High-Protein Diet
Protein is an extremely important nutrient for weight control.
Be sure to include a good protein source at every meal, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, whey protein or nuts; because high protein intake increases release of the fullness hormone PYY, which decreases appetite and promotes fullness. Protein also raises your metabolic rate and helps you retain muscle mass during weight loss
5. Reduce Your Stress Levels
Stress can make you gain belly fat by triggering the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone.”
Research shows high cortisol levels increase appetite and drive abdominal fat storage
To help reduce belly fat, engage in pleasurable activities that relieve stress. Practicing yoga or meditation can be effective methods.
6. Don’t Eat a Lot of Sugary Foods
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 and observational studies show a relationship between high sugar intake and increased abdominal fat
7. Do Aerobic Exercise (Cardio)
Aerobic exercise (cardio) is an effective way to improve health and burn calories.
Studies also show it is one of the most effective forms of exercise for reducing belly fat. However, results are mixed regarding whether moderate-intensity or high-intensity exercise is more beneficial
Regardless of intensity, how often and how much you exercise is important. One study found postmenopausal women lost more fat from all areas when they did aerobic exercise for 300 minutes per week versus 150 minutes per week.
8. Cut Back on Carbs, Especially Refined Carbs
Reducing carb intake can be very beneficial for losing fat, especially abdominal fat.
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
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.
9. Replace Some of Your Cooking Fats With Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat.
Studies showing it can boost metabolism and decrease the amount of fat you store in response to high calorie intake
Studies suggest consuming or switching leads to abdominal fat loss.
To boost belly fat loss, it’s best to take about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil per day, which is the amount used in most of the studies reporting good results.
However, keep in mind that coconut oil is still high in calories. Instead of adding extra fat to your diet, replace some of the fats you are already eating with coconut oil.
10. Perform Resistance Training (Lift Weights)
Resistance training, also known as weight lifting or strength training, is important for preserving and gaining muscle mass.
One study in overweight teenagers showed that a combination of strength training and aerobic exercise led to the greatest decrease in visceral fat.
If you decide to start weight lifting, it is a good idea to get advice from a certified personal trainer.
11. Avoid Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
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 showed significant abdominal fat gain in people who consumed beverages high in fructose
To lose belly fat, it’s best to completely avoid sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, punch and sweet tea, as well as alcoholic mixers containing sugar.
12. Get Plenty of Restful Sleep
Sleep is important for many aspects of health, including your weight. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to gain more weight, which may include belly fat
A 16-year study of more than 68,000 women found 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
In addition to sleeping at least 7 hours per night, make sure you’re getting sufficient quality sleep.
13. Track Your Food Intake and Exercise
Many things can help you lose weight and belly fat, but consuming fewer calories than your body needs for weight maintenance is key
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
14. Eat Fatty Fish Every Week
Fatty fish are incredibly healthy.
They are rich in quality protein and omega-3 fats that protect you from disease and may help reduce visceral fat.
Studies in adults and children with fatty liver disease show fish oil supplements can significantly reduce liver and abdominal fat
Aim to get 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week. Good choices include salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel and anchovies.
15. Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Diet
Drinking apple cider vinegar has impressive health benefits, including lowering blood sugar levels
It contains a compound called acetic acid, which has been shown to reduce abdominal fat storage in several animal studies
In a controlled study of obese men, those who took 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per day for 12 weeks lost half an inch (1.4 cm) from their waists
16. Eat Probiotic Foods or Take a Probiotic Supplement
Researchers have found different types of bacteria found in probiotics play a role in weight regulation, and having the right balance can help with weight loss, including loss of belly fat.
Probiotic supplements typically contain several types of bacteria, so make sure you purchase one that provides one or more of these bacterial strains.
17. Try Intermittent Fasting
An eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and periods of fasting has become popular for weight loss.
One popular method involves 24-hour fasts once or twice a week. Another involves fasting every day for 16 hours and eating all your food in 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 a period of 6-24 weeks
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