Lady losing weight

Losing belly fat is not easy, however, it's not impossible! There is no one size fits all solution, but with dietary tweaks and exercise you can do it. 

But what exactly is 'belly fat'? And why should you care? Belly fat, clinically referred to as visceral adipose tissue (VAT), is the most dangerous form of body fat. It's located in the mid-section around your abdominal organs and contributes to diseases like heart disease (high blood pressure and cholesterol levels (dietary changes can help reduce these)), stroke, diabetes, and dementia ( 1, 2).

Unlike subcutaneous fat (the kind that sits just under the skin), belly fat surrounds your vital organs and releases inflammatory molecules that impair function. This type of fat increases the risk for chronic diseases more than any other kind of body fat. That's why it's so important to lose belly fat: not only will it make you look and feel better, but it could also save your life ( 3, 4).

Belly fat can be a big problem during pregnancy. It has been linked to several health issues such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (dietary changes can help reduce these).

Belly fat is more dangerous than other types of weight because it increases your risk for cardiovascular disease if you have too much belly fat around your waist. A large waist circumference has also been linked to type II diabetes (exercise works the best here)! In addition to exercise try focusing on diet changes that will make you feel full longer which means staying away from processed foods with added sugars since those are metabolized immediately into sugar and then stored in the body as belly flab!

Here are 16 simple tips to help you cut belly fat in a healthy way:

1. Reduce Your Calorie Intake

If you want to lose fat from anywhere on your body, you need to eat fewer calories. If you are eating more than you are burning, you will not lose weight, no matter what else you do. Try reducing your daily intake by 500 calories per day and you should see a weight loss of around a pound a week. 

For tips on efficient use of calories, read our related blogs   28 quick ways to cut calories and How to Lose, Gain, or Maintain with Prep Kitchen

2. Eat more fibre 

Fibre, found in whole fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, beans, and pulses, can fill you up and stop you from over-eating. It also helps to support your gut bacteria and improve digestion.  Sometimes a protruding tummy can be caused by constipation, bloating, or water retention rather than excess fat.  If you don't usually eat much fibre, introduce it gradually into your diet as initially it can cause a bit of bloating while your gut microbiome adjusts, but should settle down in a few days. Some types of fibre (and other foods) will suit you better than others so keep a food diary and look out for foods which you find difficult to digest. 

3. Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods

Sugar is one of the worst things for belly fat. It causes inflammation in the body and can lead to weight gain. Avoid cakes, sweets, refined carbs like white bread, and processed foods high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and sodium. 

Instead eat whole, unprocessed foods that are low in sugar and calories. To find out more about how to reduce your sugar intake - and why this is so important for overall health - read Sugar: Are You Consuming Too Much?

4. Drink Lots of Water

Drinking plenty of plain filtered water will help you stay hydrated and flush out toxins in the body that might be causing belly fat storage. Being hydrated is important for your weight loss goals because it can help you feel full and keeps belly bloat away.

It’s indicated that the daily recommended intake of water for a male is 10 cups and for a female, it is 8. This should be increased by at least an extra cup for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Children should look to be having 4-6 cups a day depending on their age.

Read Are You Drinking Enough Water to find out more about hydrating your body properly. 

5. Add Some Cardio to Your Daily Exercise Routine

It's easier than you think to add some cardiovascular exercise into your daily routine. You can go on a walk first thing in the morning or find time during lunch break at work for a quick jog around the block. Even if you only have five minutes to spare in between tasks throughout your day, try doing some crunches or planks while sitting at your desk. It's easy and fits right into any schedule!

Even 20 minutes each day will help and if you can't afford the gym, there are plenty of ways to lose belly fat without investing hours in the weight room. Incorporate cardiovascular exercise like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or there are some great free YouTube workouts you can do at home - basically anything that gets your heart rate up for 20+ minutes per day most days of the week will help whittle away belly fat over time.

If you're tied to a desk all day, read our article about How to Stay Fit When You Sit 9-5

6. Strength Train At Least Twice a Week

Strength training not only helps you burn belly fat, but it also helps tone your body and improve your overall fitness.

Strength training is an important part of any weight loss program because it helps build muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat does. It's also great for building better posture, making it easier to maintain a healthy belly. Working out with weights or doing bodyweight exercises (such as squats, lunges, push-ups, crunches) a few times per week will help get rid of belly fat.

7. Add Some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Exercises

If you really want to attack that belly fat, then high intensity Interval Training can help. HIIT is an exercise routine that involves short bursts of intense activity followed by longer recovery periods. This type of exercise helps you get fit more quickly than traditional workouts while helping you burn belly fat at the same time! Try doing HIIT for 20 minutes three times per week and you will help your belly fat disappear, faster!

To find out if HIIT training might be right for you, read The Pros and Cons of HIIT Training on our blog.

8. Avoid Eating Late at Night

Eating late at night can cause weight gain because your body is not able to immediately use the calories you've eaten and they're more likely to be stored as fat. If you are trying to lose belly fat, try to avoid eating after dinner altogether or have something light like vegetables or yogurt instead, or try to stop eating at least two hours before you plan on going to bed.

9. Get Plenty of Sleep

Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain in general, and belly fat is no exception. When you’re tired, you are more likely to reach for unhealthy foods in order to get energy. Getting enough sleep helps your body release hormones that regulate appetite. When we don't get enough sleep, our hunger hormone ghrelin increases while our satiety hormone leptin decreases. This leads us to eat more than usual without realising it - hence belly fat gain! Aim for at least seven hours of shut eye each night if you're trying to lose weight or maintain an already slim figure.

Follow this link to read more about how to get enough sleep.

10. Cut Out Sugary Drinks, Soda, Juice, Energy Drinks

Cut out soda, juice, energy drinks, etc., from your diet to keep belly fat at bay! These beverages are high in sugar so they will cause belly fat to show up. A better alternative is unsweetened herbal tea or water with lemon, herbs or your favourite fruit, which will help you stay hydrated and detoxify your body at the same time!

11. Eliminate Alcohol

Eliminate alcohol from your life if belly fat loss is what you are trying to achieve. Alcohol contains empty calories that contribute nothing nutritionally to your diet and can actually hinder your weight loss goals. It also messes around with your hunger hormones so you may still feel hungry after eating.

If eliminating alcohol completely is too much of a shock to your system and lifestyle, then find ways of limiting your consumption. For most of us, it’s the effect that alcohol has on us which is the problem, as it can lead to binging and bad eating behaviours.

12. Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals Throughout the Day

If you find you get hungry between meals, try eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. When you eat smaller meals, your body will have an easier time digesting them and you will be less likely to store belly fat.

13. Make Sure that Every Meal Includes Protein

Protein is a really important nutrient for weight loss because it helps keep you feeling fuller for longer and prevents cravings for unhealthy foods. Good sources of protein include lean meats, eggs, tofu, legumes, and nuts/seeds. 

Read our blog to find out more about Protein and Weight Loss.

If you find it hard to plan, shop for, or cook, a healthy balanced diet, then consider using a healthy meal prep service which offers high-protein, nutritious and perfectly balanced meals.

14. Avoid Stress to Reduce Belly Fat!

Stress causes your body to release cortisol, which is a hormone that can lead belly fat storage and weight gain. Try meditating or doing deep breathing exercises in order to de-stress and keep belly bloat at bay! 

15. Don’t Go Overboard with Exercise

Exercising too much will not only cause you physical harm but it won’t make belly fat disappear any faster than exercising normally would. You should aim for about 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity (i.e., running, biking, etc.) five days per week along with strength training two times per week for maximum results when trying to lose belly fat.
Read more on overtraining and overexercising .

16. Eat Slowly and Mindfully

Eating slowly and mindfully reduces the chance of eating more than you need, which can lead to weight gain. It also helps your body register fullness sooner so that you eat less overall in a day. Remember that it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain what's up! Make sure not to eat too fast or while distracted by something else; focus on enjoying every bite (and sip). Chew thoroughly before swallowing - this ensures better digestion.

We've learned that whilst belly fat is the most stubborn type of fat to lose, diet and exercise are both key. The best way to lose belly fat is through a combination of all these tips, tailored specifically for you. So, find what works best for your schedule and lifestyle and get started today! You'll see results before you know it. Good luck!

Updated April 2024

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Posted in Health on by Paulo Vaa