Losing belly fat, or abdominal fat, is a common weight loss goal.
Belly fat is a particularly harmful type. Research suggests strong links with diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
For this reason, losing this fat can have significant benefits for your health and well-being.
You can measure your abdominal fat by measuring the circumference around your waist with a tape measure. Measures above 40 inches (102 cm) in men and 35 inches (88 cm) in women are known as abdominal obesity and are at greater risk for health problems.
Certain weight-loss strategies can target the fat in the belly area more than in other areas of the body.
Here are some scientifically-backed ways to lose belly fat.
1. Limit added sugar and sugary drinks
Foods with added sugars are bad for your health. Eating a lot of these types of food can cause weight gain.
Studies show that added sugar has uniquely harmful effects on metabolic health.
Numerous studies have indicated that excess sugar, mostly due to the large amounts of fructose, can lead to fat building up around your abdomen and liver.
Sugar is half glucose and half fructose. When you eat a lot of added sugar, the liver gets overloaded with fructose and is forced to turn it into fat.
Some believe that this is the main process behind sugar’s harmful effects on health. It increases abdominal fat and liver fat, which leads to insulin resistance and various metabolic problems.
Liquid sugar is worse in this regard. The brain doesn’t seem to register liquid calories in the same way as solid calories, so when you drink sugar-sweetened beverages, you end up eating more total calories.
A study observed that children were 60% more likely to develop obesity with each additional daily serving of sugar-sweetened beverages.
Try minimizing the amount of sugar in your diet and consider completely eliminating sugary drinks. This includes sugar-sweetened beverages, sugary sodas, fruit juices, and various high-sugar sports drinks.
Read the labels to make sure products do not contain refined sugars. Even foods marketed as health foods can contain significant amounts of sugar.
Keep in mind that none of this applies to whole fruit, which is extremely healthy and has plenty of fiber that mitigates the negative effects of fructose.
2. Eat more protein
Protein may be the most important macronutrient for weight loss.
Research shows it can reduce cravings by 60%, boost metabolism by 80–100 calories per day, and help you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day.
If weight loss is your goal, adding protein may be the single most effective change you can make to your diet.
Not only can protein help you to lose weight, but it may also help you to avoid regaining weight.
Protein may be particularly effective in reducing abdominal fat. One study showed that people who ate more and better protein had much less abdominal fat.
Another study indicated that protein was linked to a significantly reduced chance of abdominal fat gain over 5 years in women.
Many of the studies observing that protein helps with weight loss had people getting 25–30% of their calories from protein. Therefore, this may be a good range to try.
Try increasing your intake of high-protein foods such as whole eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, meat, and dairy products. These are the best protein sources for your diet.
If you struggle with getting enough protein in your diet, a quality protein supplement – like whey protein — is a healthy and convenient way to boost your total intake. You can find plenty of protein powder options online.
3. Eat fewer carbohydrates
Eating fewer carbs is a very effective way to lose fat.
This is supported by numerous studies. When people cut carbs, their appetite goes down and they lose weight.
More than 20 randomized controlled studies have now shown that low-carb diets sometimes lead to 2–3 times more weight loss than low-fat diets.
This is true even when those in the low-carb groups are allowed to eat as much as they want, while those in the low-fat groups are calorie restricted.
Low-carb diets also lead to quick reductions in water weight, which gives people fast results. People often see a difference on the scale within 1–2 days.
Studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets indicate that low-carb eating specifically reduces fat in the abdomen and around the organs and liver.
This means that some of the fat lost on a low-carb diet is harmful abdominal fat.
Just avoiding refined carbs — like sugar, candy, and white bread — should be sufficient, especially if you keep your protein intake high.
If the goal is to lose weight fast, some people reduce their carb intake to 50 grams per day. This puts your body into ketosis, a state in which your body starts burning fats as its main fuel and appetite is reduced. If you want to try a keto diet, we highly recommend a custom keto diet, It is totally different from the one-size-fits-all diet plans that are readily available all over the internet. This diet plan works in a tailored manner, by taking into account your age, height, weight, and the kinds of foods that you eat, giving you a customized unique diet plan according to your body state.
Low-carb diets have many other health benefits besides just weight loss. For example, they can significantly improve health in people with type 2 diabetes.
4. Eat more fiber
Dietary fiber is mostly indigestible plant matter.
Eating plenty of fiber can help with weight loss. However, the type of fiber is important.
It appears that mostly the soluble and viscous fibers have an effect on your weight. These are fibers that bind water and form a thick gel that “sits” in your gut.
This gel can dramatically slow the movement of food through your digestive system. It can also slow down the digestion and absorption of nutrients. The end result is a prolonged feeling of fullness and reduced appetite.
One review study found that an additional 14 grams of fiber per day were linked to a 10% decrease in calorie intake and weight loss of around 4.5 pounds (2 kg) over 4 months.
One 5-year study reported that eating 10 grams of soluble fiber per day was linked to a 3.7% reduction in the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity.
This implies that soluble fiber may be particularly effective at reducing harmful belly fat.
The best way to get more fiber is to eat a lot of plant foods, including vegetables and fruit. Legumes are also a good source, as well as some cereals, such as whole oats.
Hard to stick to a strict diet?
In today’s dynamic and fast-paced world, sticking to a strict diet is sometimes easier said than done. Most of us know the feeling.
Even after you’ve picked out a meal plan or eating pattern, maintaining that strict diet day in and day out has its fair share of difficulties.
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