Belly fat isn’t just an issue because it might look bad.
In fact, having lots of abdominal fat is strongly associated with diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease .
Because of this, losing belly fat has huge health benefits and can help you live longer.
By measuring the circumference around your waist, belly fat is usually estimated. With a simple tape measure, this can be done easily at home.
Anything in men above 40 inches (102 cm) and women above 35 inches (88 cm) is called abdominal obesity.
If you have a lot of excess fat around your waistline, you should take some steps to get rid of it even if overall you are not very heavy.
Fortunately, a few proven strategies have been shown to target the fat more than other areas of the body in the belly area. Here are six ways of losing belly fat based on evidence.
1. Do not eat sugar and avoid sweetened beverages
It’s very unhealthy to add sugar.
Studies show that it has unique harmful metabolic health effects .
Sugar is half glucose, half fructose, and only significant amounts of fructose can be metabolized by the liver .
The liver becomes overloaded with fructose when you eat a lot of added sugar and is forced to turn it into fat .
Numerous studies have shown that excess sugar can lead to increased accumulation of fat in the belly and liver, mostly due to large amounts of fructose .
Some think this is the primary mechanism behind the harmful health effects of sugar. It increases fat in the stomach and liver, resulting in insulin resistance and a host of metabolic problems.
In this respect, liquid sugar is even worse. Liquid calories are not “registered” by the brain in the same way as solid calories, so you end up eating more total calories when you drink sugar-sweetened beverages.
Studies show that sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with a 60% increase in children’s risk of obesity per day.
Make a decision to minimize your diet’s amount of sugar and consider eliminating sugar beverages completely.
This includes beverages that are sugar-sweetened, sugar sodas, fruit juices, and various high-sugar sports drinks.
Keep in mind that none of this applies to whole fruit that is extremely healthy and has plenty of fiber to mitigate fructose’s negative effects.
Compared to a diet high in refined sugar, the amount of fructose you get from fruit is negligible.
You need to start reading labels if you want to cut back on refined sugar. Even foods that are marketed as health foods may contain enormous amounts of sugar.
2. Eating more protein is a great long-term strategy for reducing fat in the stomach
When it comes to weight loss, protein is the most important macronutrient.
It has been shown to reduce cravings by 60%, boost metabolism by 80–100 calories per day and help you eat up to 441 less calories per day .
If weight loss is your goal, you may want to add protein to your diet as the most effective change you can make.
It will not only help you lose, it will also help you avoid weight gain if you ever decide to give up your effort to lose weight.
There is also some evidence that protein against abdominal fat is particularly effective.
One study showed that the protein quantity and quality consumed in the belly was inversely related to fat. That is, there was much less stomach fat in people who ate more and better protein .
Another study showed that protein over a period of 5 years was associated with a significantly reduced risk of belly fat gain .
This study also showed that refined carbs and oils were associated with increased amounts of abdominal fat, but fruits and vegetables were associated with lower amounts.
Many of the studies that showed protein to be effective had 25–30% of calories of protein. You should aim for that.
So try to increase your intake of high-protein foods like whole eggs, fish, seafood, legumes, nuts, meat and dairy products. These are the diet’s best sources of protein.
If you are struggling to get enough protein in your diet, a high-quality protein supplement (such as whey protein) is a healthy and convenient way to boost your total intake.
A lot of protein powder options can be found on Amazon.
Bonus tip: Consider cooking in coconut oil for your food. Some studies showed that 30 mL of coconut oil per day reduces belly fat slightly.
3. Cut carbs out of your diet
Carb limitation is a very efficient way of losing fat.
Numerous studies are supporting this. By cutting carbs, people lose their appetite and weight .
More than 20 randomized controlled trials have now shown that low-carb diets result in weight loss 2-3 times higher than low-fat diets.
This is true even if low-carb groups are permitted to eat as much as they want, while low-fat groups are limited in calories and hungry.
Low-carb diets also lead to rapid water weight reductions, resulting in near-instant results for people. There is often a difference in the scale within 1–2 days.
Studies comparing low-carbon and low-fat diets also show that low-carbon diets specifically target the fat in the belly and around the organs and liver.
What this means is that the dangerous and disease that promotes abdominal fat is a particularly high proportion of the fat lost on a low-carb diet.
It should be sufficient to avoid refined carbs (sugar, candy, white bread, etc.) especially if you keep your protein intake high.
However, consider dropping your carbs down to 50 grams per day if you need to lose weight quickly. This will put your body in ketosis, kill your appetite, and make your body start burning fats for fuel primarily.
Low-carb diets, of course, have many other health benefits in addition to losing weight. For example, in type 2 diabetics, they can have life-saving effects.
4. Eat fiber-rich foods, particularly viscous fiber
Dietary fiber is mostly plant material that is indigestible.
Eating plenty of fiber can often be said to help with weight loss.
That’s true, but remember that not all fiber is created equal.
For the most part, it seems to be the soluble and viscous fibers that affect your weight.
These are fibers binding water and forming a thick gel “sitting” in the gut.
This gel can dramatically slow food movement through your digestive system, slowing down nutrient digestion and absorption. The end result is a long-lasting feeling of fullness and less appetite.
Reduced calorie intake and 4.5 lbs (2 kg) weight loss over 4 months.
In a 5-year study, eating 10 grams of soluble fiber per day was associated with a 3.7% reduction in the abdominal cavity’s fat content.
This means that soluble fiber can be particularly effective in reducing harmful abdominal fat.
Eating a lot of plant foods like vegetables and fruit is the best way to get more fiber. As well as some cereals such as whole oats, the legumes are also a good source.
Then you could also try to take a glucomannan fiber supplement. This is one of the most viscous dietary fibers in existence and in several studies it has been shown to cause weight loss.
5. Exercise reduces belly fat very effectively
For different reasons, exercise is important.
If you want to live a long, healthy life and avoid disease, it’s one of the best things you can do.
Listing all of the exercise’s amazing health benefits is beyond the scope of this article, but exercise does seem to be effective in reducing belly fat.
Remember, though, I’m not talking here about abdominal exercises. Spot reduction (loss of fat in one spot) is not possible, and endless amounts of ab exercises will not cause you to lose fat from your belly.
In one study, only the abdominal muscles had no measurable effect on the waist or the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity during 6 weeks of training.
That being said, it may be very effective for other types of exercise.
Aerobic exercise (such as walking, running, swimming, etc.) has been demonstrated in numerous studies to cause significant reductions in belly fat.
Another study found that exercise prevented people from recovering abdominal fat after weight loss, implying that exercise during weight maintenance was particularly important.
Exercise also results in lower inflammation, lower levels of blood sugar, and improvements in all other metabolic abnormalities associated with excess abdominal fat.
6. Track your food and find out exactly what you eat and how much you eat
It’s important what you eat. This is something that almost everyone knows.
Most people don’t really have a clue what they’re eating, though.
People think they eat “high protein,” “low-carb” or something else, but they tend to overestimate or underestimate drastically.
I think it’s absolutely essential for anyone who really wants to optimize their diet to track things for a while.
It doesn’t mean that you have to weigh and measure everything for the rest of your life, but it can help you realize where you need to make changes every now and then for a few days in a row.
If, as recommended above, you want to increase your protein intake to 25–30% of calories, eating more protein-rich foods will not be enough. In order to achieve this goal, you need to measure and fine-tune.
Here’s a calorie calculator and a list of free online tools and apps to track what you’re eating.
I do this myself every few months. To see what my current diet looks like, I weigh and measure everything I eat.
Then I know exactly where to make adjustments to bring my goals closer.