Now that you’re aware of the different types of belly fats and their health effects, you may wonder how you can lose excess belly fat in a safe and sustainable way.
Keep in mind that, although diet and lifestyle play a significant role in belly fat accumulation, factors like your age, sex, and genetics also have an effect.
Reading: How to lose waist fat
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to lose excess belly fat, and in turn, reduce your risk of many health conditions.
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Here are some evidence-based tips to lose belly fat:
- Cut out sugary beverages. Drinking too many sugary drinks like soda has been linked to increased visceral fat accumulation and a larger waist circumference. Try swapping sugary drinks with water or sparkling water (31, 32, 33, 34).
- Get moving. Increasing physical activity may significantly reduce belly fat. Try mixing up your workouts, including high and low intensity aerobic activity, as well as resistance training, all of which have been shown to help reduce belly fat (35, 36, 37, 38, 39).
- Increase your fiber intake. People who follow high fiber diets tend to have less belly fat than those who don’t. Plus, transitioning to a high fiber diet may help you lose excess belly fat (40, 41, 42, 43).
- Cut back on ultra-processed foods. Studies show that frequently eating ultra-processed foods like snack foods, sweets, fast food, and refined grain products is linked to a greater waist circumference (44, 45).
- Limit alcohol use. Drinking too much alcohol may harm your overall health in a number of ways, including contributing to excessive accumulation of belly fat (44, 46, 47, 48).
- Don’t skimp on sleep. Poor sleep quality is associated with visceral fat accumulation. Plus, one review including over 56,000 people tied shorter sleep duration to a greater waist circumference (49, 50).
- Increase protein intake. Dietary patterns that are higher in protein may help promote belly fat loss. A review including 23,876 people linked higher protein diets to a smaller waist circumference (51).
- Fill up on whole foods. Cutting back on ultra-processed foods and eating mostly whole, minimally processed foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and healthy sources of protein and fat may promote overall health and healthy belly fat levels (52).
In addition to the tips listed above, recent research suggests that some people with too much belly fat may benefit from reducing their carb intake.
A 15-week study among 50 middle-age adults with overweight or obesity found that those who were assigned a very low carb, high fat, energy-restricted diet that provided 5% of calories from carbs lost more belly fat, including visceral fat, than those who followed a low fat diet (53).
Interestingly, both diets resulted in similar amounts of weight and total body fat loss, but the low carb, high fat diet was more effective at reducing belly fat, specifically.
Other studies have also found that restricting carbs may help reduce visceral fat among people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS ) (54, 55).
However, diet is highly individualized, and some people may obtain better results with a higher carb intake, particularly if those carbs are consumed as part of a fiber-rich, plant-forward diet that includes whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit (56).
Working with a knowledgeable healthcare professional like a registered dietitian can help you choose an appropriate dietary pattern that promotes belly fat loss and overall health and meets your specific needs and preferences.
Belly fat reduction strategies include exercising more, eating more fiber-rich foods, cutting out sugary beverages and ultra-processed foods, and getting enough sleep. Also, consider working with a registered dietitian for personalized nutrition advice.
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