There’s no one trick for losing belly fat, but a combination of healthy diet choices and regular exercise can help. In addition to reducing overall body fat, reducing dangerous visceral belly fat is important because it increases risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Skip sugary drinks, including sodas and fruit juices. Also, incorporate exercises using your own body weight, such as pushups, squats and plank.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to lose belly fat or simply keep it from growing, exercise is crucial. Moderate-intensity physical activity seems to be the most effective way to get rid of belly fat, Stewart says. It reduces circulating insulin, which tells your body to hang onto fat cells, and helps the liver burn fat—especially visceral belly fat.
It’s also important to avoid spot exercises like planks and crunches, which only tighten the abdominal muscles without reducing overall belly fat. Instead, focus on regular cardiovascular (or aerobic) exercise paired with whole-body strength training. Some experts recommend doing at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise—like brisk walking—per week and adding two or more days of strength training. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a great option for those who want to lose belly fat more quickly. It involves short bursts of intense exercise paired with periods of rest. HIIT can also help increase your metabolism and keep your fat burning long after you’ve finished exercising.
Everyone has some fat, but too much belly fat raises your risk for diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and may even shorten your life. The good news is, you can whittle away belly fat by eating well and exercising regularly.
The key to lowering abdominal fat is to reduce overall calorie intake, including the calories from sugar. That means cutting back on soda and juice, which are “liquid sugars,” and replacing them with whole fruits and vegetables. And try to eat your largest meal earlier in the day — the body may process food more efficiently, especially if you drink water with meals.
While it’s impossible to spot-reduce, belly fat is usually the first to go when you lose weight. So, be sure to eat a balanced diet and aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. That doesn’t have to mean a marathon, but it could be raking leaves, walking to work or playing soccer with the kids.
Many people notice that no matter how well they eat or exercise, their belly just keeps getting bigger. They may be suffering from stress related belly fat.
Stress can lead to an imbalance of the hormone cortisol, which is responsible for storing and using energy in your body. The cortisol imbalance causes your body to store excess fat, particularly in your abdomen. This type of fat, known as visceral fat, is more dangerous than other types of fat because it surrounds your organs and can contribute to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
In addition to avoiding sugary drinks, eating whole foods, and getting enough sleep, adding moderate-intensity exercise like walking or jogging into your routine can help reduce cortisol levels. However, it is important not to over-exercise, as doing too much can increase cortisol levels. Try to incorporate a mix of cardio and strength training into your workouts. Other forms of self-care, such as reading a book or drinking a cup of tea, can also be beneficial for managing stress.
Many people focus on exercise and diet when trying to lose belly fat, but sleep is also an important factor in weight control. A good night’s sleep can help promote fat loss by optimizing metabolic processes, supporting hormone regulation, and promoting brown fat metabolism.
Getting enough sleep can also help keep your appetite under control by regulating leptin and ghrelin, which are two hunger-stimulating hormones. Try to go to bed at a reasonable hour, avoid eating food or drinking alcohol before you go to sleep, and limit your exposure to electronic devices, which can interfere with melatonin production and disrupt the production of these appetite-controlling hormones.
The best way to reduce belly fat is to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious, whole foods diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and stress management. Try to include lean protein in every meal and snack, as well as fruits and vegetables, and avoid refined carbohydrates like chips, cookies, cake, and candy.