Belly fat is more than just a nuisance that makes your clothes feel tight.
Fat inside the belly area which is also called visceral fat, and it is harmful.
This type of fat is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, to name a few.
Many health organizations use BMI (body mass index) to classify weight and predict the risk of metabolic disease. However, this is misleading.
People with excess belly fat are at an increased risk, even if they look thin on the outside.
Although losing fat from this area can be difficult, there are several things you can do to reduce excess abdominal fat.
The tips below focuses on how to to lose belly fat effectively.
1. Eat Plenty of Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel that helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system.
Studies show this type of fiber promotes weight loss by helping you feel full so you naturally eat less. It may also decrease the amount of calories your body absorbs from food.
What’s more, soluble fiber may help fight belly fat. An observational study of over 1100 adults found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber intake, belly fat gain decreased by 3.7% over a 5-year period.
Make an effort to consume high-fiber foods every day. Excellent sources of soluble fiber include flaxseeds, shirataki noodles, Brussels sprouts, avocados, legumes and blackberries.
2. Avoid Foods That Contain Trans Fats
Trans fats are created by pumping hydrogen into unsaturated fats such as soybean oil.
They’re found in some margarines and spreads, and they’re also added to some packaged foods.
These fats have been linked to inflammation, heart disease, insulin resistance and abdominal fat gain in observational and animal studies.
A 6-year study found that monkeys who ate a high-trans-fat diet gained 33% more abdominal fat than monkeys that ate a diet high in monounsaturated fat.
To help reduce belly fat and protect your health, read ingredient labels carefully and stay away from products that contain trans fats. These are often listed as “partially hydrogenated” fats.
3. Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol
Alcohol can have health benefits in small amounts, but it is seriously harmful if you drink too much.
Research suggests too much alcohol can also make you gain belly fat.
Observational studies link heavy alcohol consumption with significantly increased risk of central obesity that is, excess fat storage around the waist.
Cutting back on alcohol may help reduce your waist size. You don’t need to give it up altogether if you enjoy it, but limiting the amount you drink in a single day can help.
In a study of more than 2000 people, those who drank alcohol daily but averaged less than one drink per day had less belly fat than those who drank less frequently but consumed more alcohol on the days they did drink.
4. Eat a High-Protein Diet
Protein is an extremely important nutrient for weight control.
High protein intake increases release of the fullness hormone PYY, which decreases appetite and promotes fullness. Protein also raises your metabolic rate and helps you retain muscle mass during weight loss.
Many observational studies show that people who eat more protein tend to have less abdominal fat than those who eat a lower-protein diet.
Be sure to include a good protein source at every meal, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, whey protein or nuts.
5. Don’t Eat a Lot of Sugary Foods
Sugar contains fructose, which has been linked to several chronic diseases when consumed in excess.
These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and fatty liver disease.
Observational studies show a relationship between high sugar intake and increased abdominal fat.
It’s important to realize that more than just refined sugar can lead to belly fat gain. Even “healthier” sugars (such as real honey) should be used sparingly.
6. Do Aerobic Exercise (Cardio)
Aerobic exercise (cardio) is an effective way to improve health and burn calories.
Studies also show it is one of the most effective forms of exercise for reducing belly fat. However, results are mixed regarding whether moderate-intensity or high-intensity exercise is more beneficial.
Regardless of intensity, how often and how much you exercise is important. One study found postmenopausal women lost more fat from all areas when they did aerobic exercise for 300 minutes per week versus 150 minutes per week.
7. Replace Some of Your Cooking Fats With Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat.
Studies show that the medium-chain fats in coconut oil may boost metabolism and decrease the amount of fat you store in response to high calorie intake.
Controlled studies suggest it may also lead to abdominal fat loss.
In one study, obese men who took coconut oil daily for 12 weeks lost an average of 1.1 inch (2.86 cm) from their waists without intentionally changing their diets or exercise routines.
To boost belly fat loss, it’s best to take about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil per day, which is the amount used in most of the studies reporting good results.
However, keep in mind that coconut oil is still high in calories. Instead of adding extra fat to your diet, replace some of the fats you are already eating with coconut oil.
8. Avoid Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Sugar-sweetened beverages are loaded with liquid fructose, which can make you gain belly fat.
Studies show that sugary drinks lead to increased fat in the liver. One 10-week study showed significant abdominal fat gain in people who consumed beverages high in fructose.
Sugary beverages appear to be even worse than high-sugar foods. Because your brain doesn’t process liquid calories the same way it does solid ones, you’re likely to end up consuming too many calories later on and storing them as fat.
To lose belly fat, it’s best to completely avoid sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, punch and sweet tea, as well as alcoholic mixers containing sugar.
9. Stop Drinking Fruit Juice
Although fruit juice provides vitamins and minerals, it’s just as high in sugar as soda and other sweetened beverages.
Drinking large amounts may carry the same risk for abdominal fat gain.
An 8-ounce (248-gram) serving of unsweetened apple juice contains 24 grams of sugar, half of which is fructose.
To help reduce excess belly fat, replace fruit juice with water, unsweetened iced tea or sparkling water with a wedge of lemon or lime.
10. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is an exceptionally healthy beverage.
It contains caffeine and the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), both of which appear to boost metabolism.
EGCG is a catechin, which several studies suggest may be effective for losing belly fat. The effect may be strengthened when green tea consumption is combined with exercise.