Excess belly fat is a problem many people have. And it's not just for an aesthetic reason.
It's also for your health.
Excess belly fat, particularly the deep visceral fat near your organ is the most harmful fat in your body.
So much so that it's a predictor of many metabolic syndromes.
In fact, Diabetes UK linked "visceral belly fat" with health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, just to name a few (1).
Although losing abdominal fat can be hard, there are steps you can take to reduce excess belly fat.
Here are 11 proven tips and tricks to lose belly fat fast.
But before we look at how to lose belly fat, let's take a look at what causes it.
What Causes Belly Fat?
It's the excess weight.
Your weight gets mostly determined by calories in and calories out.
If you eat too much and exercise too little, you're likely to carry excess weight — including belly fat.
But other factors like genetics, hormones, body shape, aging, stress, lifestyle, and certain foods also impacts belly fat.
For example, your muscle mass may decrease with age, which slows your metabolism.
This makes losing weight harder and gaining some easier.
Many women also notice an increase in belly fat as they age — even if they aren't gaining weight.
This may be due to the decreasing level of estrogen, which appears to influence where you carry fat in your body.
The tendency is to gain or carry weight around the waist, genetics may play a part in your body shape.
While some may be an "apple" shape, other may be a "pear shape", carrying more fat in the behind.
While you can't change your genetics, you can influence other factors like hormones, lifestyle, and stress.
To lose belly fat, it's important to focus on what you can change and forego what you cannot.
So how much of belly fat is too much?
The simplest ways to know whether you carry excess fat is to measure your abdominal fat.
Here's how to measure your belly fat:
Keeping your abdomen relaxed, measure your waist with a tape measure.
Next, measure your hips at the widest point, usually at the bony prominences.
Divide your waist size by your hip size:
- Waist (in inches) / Hip (in inches) = Waist-to-Hip Ratio
- For women, anything above 0.85 poses a health risk.
- For men, 0.95 and above is where the risk starts to rise.
Another method to measure belly fat is the waist circumference.
This one involves one instead of two steps.
Follow the steps below.
Take your shoes off and stand with your feet together. Be sure your belly is bare. Relax and exhale.
- Using a simple measuring tape, measure your waist a the navel.
- Record the measurement to the nearest one-tenth of an inch.
- See the belly fat chart below to compare your results.
Anything above 40 inches (102 cm) in men and 35 inches (88 cm) in women, is known as abdominal obesity.
If you have excess belly fat regardless of your figure, it is important that you take every measure to reduce it.
Here, I outlined some healthy tips and tricks to help you lose your belly.
1. Clean Your Eating
Losing belly fat starts with clean eating and a healthy diet.
You've probably heard the saying "abs are made in the kitchen".
This could not be truer as your diet is the number one factor in losing belly fat.
This is why clean eating is so important.
But what is clean eating?
Most diets are macronutrient ratio oriented.
Diets like high-fat, low-carb diet and protein-based diet are the perfect examples.
But clean eating is not much about how much carbs or protein to eat. It also doesn't set restrictions on how many calories to eat.
Rather, it's about cleaning up your diet.
It's about food choices and selecting the healthiest food items from each macro food group. It's also equally essential to eliminate unhealthy options from all food groups.
Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, healthy oils and healthy proteins like fish are part of the clean eating.
On the flip side, items like fruit juice, processed meats, white flour based bread and pastries, junk foods, unhealthy trans fats, and foods with additives, preservatives, and excessive salt and sugar are not clean foods, thus should be off limits.
Even if you make a few changes and swap unclean items with clean ones, you can see a drastic improvement in your health and body fat or belly fat in particular.
This is because sugary drinks along with highly-processed foods have long been associated with abdominal obesity.
Simply cutting out those items can help lose the stubborn belly fat without making any other lifestyle changes.
To get started, create your meals based on whole foods.
Freely include foods like fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, lean meats, fish, and eggs.
They are high in fiber, omega 3s, potassium, calcium, and low in sodium.
These are all essential nutrients that support your health and reduce your abdominal fat.
2. Try a Belly Fat Diet
A belly fat diet is not specifically referring to any particular diet, but more so it's a diet based on foods that can help you lose the stomach fat.
It limits refined carbs, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Instead, it's high in protein, healthy fats, and low carb vegetables.
In fact, a belly fat diet should include plenty of protein.
Good protein sources to include in your belly fat diet are meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and nuts. Be sure to include in every meal.
3. Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Diet
Apple cider vinegar brings tremendous health benefits.
It's been linked to lower blood sugar and reduce belly fat.
In another 12-week study on obese male participants, those who had 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar a day lost half an inch or 1.4 cm from the waists (11).
Although findings are not yet conclusive and limited in quantities, taking 1-2 tbsps of apple cider a day suggests a modest fat loss in the stomach.
5. Cook with Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is known to be a healthy oil.
But it's not widely known that it can also help you lose your belly fat.
In some studies, coconut oil has shown to help with fat loss, particularly in the belly area.
For best results, 2 tbsp of coconut oil is recommended.
Although some of these coconut oil results are remarkable for your belly fat, coconut oil still carries high calories.
It's best to use coconut oil as a replacement rather than an addition to your diet and break your calorie budget.
4. Give Up Added Sugar
If there's one food that increases the fat around your belly is added sugar.
Did you know the average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar per year (16)?
That’s a lot of sugar, especially when added sugar only adds calories without any nutritional values.
Added sugar provides no dietary benefits to your body and health.
It's extremely unhealthy and harmful. It also adds fat to your abdominal.
Sugar contains glucose and fructose.
While glucose gets used by the body as an energy source, fructose can only get converted to energy by the liver.
Because of that, when you consume sugar in excess, it gets overloaded and converted into fat.
Consuming fructose-sweetener has been linked to abdominal obesity as well as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, even liver problems (17).
Limiting your added sugar will not only help you lose belly fat but also reduce your risk of many health issues.
6. Cut Back on Carbs
Reduce Your Carbs Intakes
Cutting back in carbohydrates is a very effective way to lose belly fat.
In fact, it's one of the easiest and most effective ways.
This is supported by scientific research.
In a study on overweight people, diets with less than 50g of carbohydrates a day led to a greater belly fat loss (18).
This is not to suggest an extremely low-carb diet.
It's just to show how reducing carbs can help you lose abdominal fat.
They not only have seen their bodyweight go down, but they've also seen a decrease in their belly fat.
The takeaway here is simple. Cut down on carbs, especially refined carbs to reduce abdominal fat.
7. Limit Alchohol
They not only come with lots of empty calories with no nutritional values but also contain a high level of sugars.
Just to illustrate, if you have 2 glasses of wine at dinner, that'll equate to 72k calories a year.
That's a tremendous amount of calories you are adding to your body every day.
so if you'd like to drastically reduce your belly fat fast, cut down alcohol.
8. Eat More Fiber-Rich Foods
One of the simplest ways to lose belly fat is to eat a diet rich in dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the body.
It's categorized into two types —insoluble fiber and soluble fiber.
What's different is how they react to water in the body.
Insoluble fiber is water resistant. What it does is to bulk up your stool and make it easier to pass it to the gut.
It's the type of fiber that helps you be regular.
Soluble fiber, on the other hand, blends with water and become gel-like and slows down the release of digested food in the gut.
Most common foods with soluble fiber are oat bran, quinoa, nuts, lentils, barley, peas, and even some veggies and fruits.
Soluble fiber helps with losing belly fat and preventing a fat gain around the midsection.
One study shows an increase in intake of soluble fiber by 10 grams daily can drop your risk of adding stomach fat by 3.7% (21).
To wrap up, add more soluble fiber to your diet to reduce your belly fat and prevent gaining more!
9. Eat Lots of Protein
One of the reasons is the hormones protein release called PYY are a brain signaling hormone which promotes satiety and satisfaction (26).
Other reasons include protein's effectiveness in raising metabolism, building muscle mass, and minimizing overeating (27).
To take advantage of protein's fat loss effects, eat at least a serving at every meal.
10. Drink Green Tea
Green tea it’s one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.
It contains catechins, which is a fat burner that blasts the belly fat tissues.
It does this by upping your metabolism and releasing more stored fat to the bloodstream. Together, it leads to your liver's fat burning capacity.
Green tea also contains antioxidants called polyphenols.
Polyphenols are responsible for the beverage’s possible role in increasing fat burning.
This is well documented in a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (28 22).
They found that green tea not only leaves positive effects on weight, but also on belly fat reduction.
These findings revealed how green may help combat and reduce belly fat.
11. Try Intermittent Fasting (IF)
Intermittent fasting, IF has risen in popularity as a way to lose weight and burn fat.
As the name implies, it's a fasting pattern that cycles between a period of fasting and eating.
There are several patterns of intermittent fasting.
A popular one is to alternate by day. A day of eating, followed by a day of fasting.
Another plan has people fast daily for 16 hours. The remaining 8 hours a day are the time you can eat food.
Regardless of the cycle pattern, IF is known to decrease your belly fat between 4-7 % over the course of 6 months (29).
12. Do Cardio (Aerobic) Exercise Regularly
Cardio exercise is not only an effective way to burn calories and lose weight, but it can also help with belly fat.
It's even quoted to be the most effective way to exercise to blast off your belly fat.
For best results, try doing a combination of moderate-intensity and high-intensity exercise.
But regardless of the intensity, aim for 300 minutes of aerobic exercises per week (30).
13. Do Weight Training Exercises
Weight training exercises are great for strength building and muscle preserving. Since a higher proportion of muscle mass helps keep your metabolism running in high gear.
Muscles are more metabolically active than fat. Meaning they use more energy in the form of calories to sustain itself.
In one study, weight training done with cardio led to a greater loss of belly fat (31).
Interested in adding weight training to your workout routines? This article can be very helpful.
14. Train Your Abs with Core Exercises
And by core exercises, I'm not referring to crunches and sit-ups.
While they are good and make your abs sore, they're not the best in strengthening your abs. Or let alone, shape up your stomach.
Core exercises such as the plank, torso twist, and legs lift are by far more effective than those ab workouts.
They target all angles of your abdomen, and some will even improve your posture and core strength.
If you need some ideas of ab exercises, check out this list of 25 best moves for your abs and core.
15. Reduce Your Stress Level
Stress can trigger you to gain belly fat.
That's because stress induces a hormone called cortisol that increases appetite and boosts fat storage in the abs area (32).
To add to it, women with a larger waist have a tendency to release more cortisol when stressed (33).
So when you have belly fat and are trying to lose it, it's important to take a look at the stress level and take steps to relieve it.
This makes engaging in hobbies and activities that alleviate stress factors is one effective belly fat loss strategies you can employ.
Yoga or meditation are also known to be effective in reducing your stress level.
16. Get Some Sleep
If stress is a factor in gaining belly fat, sleep influences fat storage just as much (34).
Sleep is one of the most essential parts of your weight loss as well as your overall health and wellness.
In one study, women with less than 5 hours of sleep a night were at a greater risk of gaining weight around the stomach than those who slept longer (35).
To consider a good night of sleep, 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended.
And to get quality sleep, avoid using electronics at night and practice gentle yoga before bed.
17. Lastly, Put it All Together & Change Your Lifestyle
Losing belly fat is not about just one particular diet or doing one particular ab exercise.
It's about adapting to a healthier lifestyle, which generally means eating healthy meals, removing refined carbohydrates from your diet, working out regularly, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night.
This is why making long-lasting lifestyle changes is the best way to lose your belly fat and keep it off.
Once all healthy habits are in place, losing belly fat comes naturally as a side effect.
Take Home Message
Belly fat, particularly visceral fat is very unhealthy and harmful.
Having an excess of it increases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer.
Luckily, you can lose your belly fat by adding some of the tips and tricks mentioned above.
It may take some time, but if you stick to the new changes, you will lose the belly fat and get a slimmer waistline for good.
You may also be interested in these belly workouts to make your abs and core stronger after losing the fat.
The take-home message here is to lose belly fat and tighten stomach, you must make lasting changes to your lifestyle including diet and exercise routine.