Losing abdominal fat, or belly fat, is a common weight loss goal. Abdominal fat is a particularly harmful type of fat. Research suggests strong links to conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. That’s why losing that fat can have significant benefits for your health and well-being. You can measure your abdominal fat by measuring around your waist with a tape measure. Measurements above 102 cm in men and 88 cm in women are known as abdominal obesity.
Some weight loss strategies may target fat in the belly area more than other areas of the body.
Here are 6 evidence-based methods for losing belly fat.
1. Avoid sugar and sugary drinks
Foods containing added sugars are bad for your health. Eating a lot of these types of foods can lead to weight gain. Studies show that added sugar has unique harmful effects on metabolic health. Numerous studies have indicated that excess sugar, primarily due to high amounts of fructose, can lead to fat accumulation around the abdomen and liver. Sugar is half glucose and half fructose. When you consume a lot of added sugar, the liver is overloaded with fructose and is forced to turn it into fat.
Some believe that this is the main process behind the adverse health effects of sugar. 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 the same way as solid calories, so when you drink sugary drinks, you end up consuming more total calories. One study observed that children were 60% more likely to develop obesity with each additional daily serving of sugary drinks.
Try to minimize the amount of sugar in your diet and consider eliminating sugary drinks altogether. This includes sugar-sweetened beverages, sugary sodas, fruit juices, and various high-sugar sports drinks.
2. Eat more protein
Protein is perhaps the most important macronutrient for weight loss. Research shows they 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 your goal is to lose weight, adding protein may be the most effective change you can make to your diet. Not only can protein help you lose weight, but it can also help prevent weight gain. Protein can be particularly effective in reducing abdominal fat. One study showed that people who ate more and better protein had significantly less belly fat.
Another study indicated that protein was linked to a significantly reduced risk of abdominal fat gain over 5 years in women. This study also linked refined carbohydrates and oils to increased abdominal fat, and fruits and vegetables to reduced fat. In most studies finding that protein contributes to weight loss, people consumed 25-30% of their calories as protein. It is therefore a good fork to try. Try increasing your intake of protein-rich foods such as whole eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, meat, and dairy products. These are the best sources of protein for your diet.
3. Eat fewer carbs
Eating fewer carbs is a very effective way to lose fat. This is confirmed by numerous studies. When people cut back on carbs, their appetite goes down and they lose weight. Over 20 randomized, controlled studies have now shown that low-carb diets sometimes lead to 2-3 times greater weight loss than low-fat diets. This is true even when people 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 a rapid reduction in water weight, which gives quick results. People often see a difference on the scale within a day or two. Studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets indicate that a low-carb diet 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. Simply avoiding refined carbs like sugar, candy, and white bread should suffice, especially if your protein intake remains high. If the goal is to lose weight quickly, some people reduce their carbohydrate intake to 50 grams per day. The body then enters ketosis, a state in which it begins to burn fat as its main fuel and appetite decreases.
4. Eat fiber-rich foods
Dietary fiber is mostly indigestible plant material. Eating plenty of fiber can help with weight loss. However, the type of fiber is important. It seems that it is mainly the soluble and viscous fibers that have an effect on your weight. These are fibers that bind water and form a thick gel that “seals” in your gut. This gel can significantly slow the movement of food through your digestive system. It can also slow digestion and absorption of nutrients. The end result is a prolonged feeling of fullness and reduced appetite.
A review study found that an extra 14 grams of fiber per day was linked to a 10% decrease in calorie intake and about 2 kg weight loss over 4 months. A 5-year study reported that consuming 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 in reducing harmful abdominal fat. The best way to get more fiber is to eat plenty of plant foods, including vegetables and fruits. Legumes are also a good source, as are some cereals, such as whole oats.
5. Exercise regularly
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to increase your chances of living a long, healthy life and avoiding disease. Reducing abdominal fat is one of the amazing health benefits of exercise. It is not about doing abdominal exercises, because spot reduction, losing fat in one place, is not possible. In one study, six weeks of training abdominal muscles alone had no measurable effect on waist circumference or the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity. Strength training and cardiovascular exercises can reduce fat all over the body. Aerobic exercises, such as walking, running and swimming, can significantly reduce abdominal fat. Another study found that exercise completely prevented people from regaining belly fat after weight loss, implying that exercise is especially important during weight maintenance. Exercise also helps reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar levels, and improve other metabolic issues associated with excess abdominal fat.
6. Track your food intake
Most people know that what you eat is important, but many don’t know exactly what they are eating. A person may think they are on a high protein or low carbohydrate diet, but if they ignore this, it is easy to overestimate or underestimate their food intake. Tracking food intake doesn’t mean you have to weigh and measure everything you eat. Tracking it every once in a while, for a few days in a row, can help you identify the most important areas for change. Planning ahead can help you achieve specific goals, like increasing your protein intake to 25-30% of calories or reducing unhealthy carbs.
Abdominal fat, or belly fat, is linked to an increased risk of certain diseases. Belly fat can be reduced by making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet rich in lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and legumes, and exercising regularly.