Belly fat is the visceral fat that is underneath the muscles in your stomach. Visceral fat is unlike other types of fat because it is stored around the internal organs. It is also metabolized differently than other fats.
Belly fat has a serious impact on long-term health. Even a small amount of belly fat can contribute to a variety of health problems. It produces excess hormones and chemicals that affect almost every organ. Too much abdominal fat can cause the body to store fat in other places in the body, including around the heart.
Belly fat has been linked to:
- weakened bones
- high blood pressure
- higher mortality rate
- cardiovascular and metabolic disease
- heart attack
- certain types of cancer
- gallbladder surgery in women
- type 2 diabetes
Read on to learn what you can do to reduce belly fat.
There is no magic way to lose belly fat. But belly fat is often the first to go when you lose weight, so general weight loss will help. One study showed that people who followed a healthy diet and exercised lost more weight than those who only followed a diet or only exercised.
There are several changes you can make to your diet to see if they work for you. But don’t be too strict. Allow yourself to indulge in your favorite foods occasionally. Add healthy foods that promote weight loss.
For example, adding grapefruit to your regular meals might be helpful. One small study showed that eating half of a grapefruit three times a day with meals resulted in weight loss.
It may also be helpful to drink green and pu-erh tea throughout the day along with plenty of water. A study from 2016 found that people who drank pu-erh tea for 20 weeks lost a significant amount of weight. The participants also lowered their body mass index.
You can also choose a caffeine-free herbal tea to drink later in the day. Herbal teas are a low-calorie beverage option that you can drink in place of sugary beverages or snacks. Increasing your liquids will help you to feel fuller and may have a cleansing effect.
Avoiding or cutting back on alcohol consumption can also help you lose weight. Not only is alcohol high in calories, but your body metabolizes alcohol before fat calories. This can cause an increase of fatty acids to be stored in the body. And after a few alcoholic drinks, your resolve to eat healthier might crumble.
Eat dinner at least three hours before going to bed. Your body digests food better when you are sitting upright. Eating late at night can cause poor digestion and affect your blood sugar levels, which can lead to poor sleep quality.
Get at least eight hours of sleep every night to feel energized throughout the day. When you’re tired, you may be more tempted to reach for unhealthy snacks.
Avoid processed and packaged foods. Instead, eat whole foods that provide adequate vitamins and minerals. Empty calories in junk foods, like potato chips, leave you feeling hungry. Also try to cut sweet, fried, and high-fat foods.
The following foods may help with weight loss:
- sugar-free yogurt
- coconut oil
- chicken breast and lean cuts of beef
- cayenne pepper
- green vegetables
Moving your body increases your blood flow and stimulates fat loss. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days per week. Anything that gets your heart rate going faster than normal is considered exercise. All forms of exercise can help you to speed up weight loss.
Getting in shape will also give you more energy. This makes it less likely that you’ll turn to sugar and unhealthy foods when your energy crashes.
You may wish to consume caffeine before working out to enhance fat burning. Ingesting a moderate amount of caffeine before exercise may increase your athletic potential and help you to lose weight. A study from 2016 found that people who successfully lost weight consumed more caffeine than people in the general population. More studies are needed to find out exactly how caffeine affects weight loss. Remember that caffeine can boost your energy levels, but you should not rely on it too much.
Step up your workout and push yourself to your own edge. While all exercise is helpful, it may be especially beneficial to engage in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) at least a few times per week. HIIT involves periods of intense exercise followed by short periods of rest.
A 2016 study included postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that HIIT was more effective than moderate-intensity continuous training in reducing belly fat in these women.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can find the best HIIT videos here.
According to a 2017 study, people who did cycling and resistance training three times per week for 12 weeks significantly reduced belly fat. The 24 people who participated in the study had nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
Examples of cardiovascular exercises include:
- elliptical training
You may wish to balance out your exercise routine with yoga. This will help you to loosen up tight areas of the body, relax, and de-stress. This is important because lower stress is linked to weight loss. A beginners’ yoga class is a great place to start if you have not been active. Combine this with walking and you will find yourself with more energy, better sleep, and even faster weight loss.
Biological differences between men and women affect weight loss, though differences are modest. Men burn more calories both at rest and during activity, so men lose weight more quickly than women. The weight loss differences balance out after some time. Men tend to lose weight in their belly and women lose weight in other areas of the body, so men’s weight loss may be more noticeable. Try not to compare yourself to others in your quest to lose belly fat.
Don’t believe any claims that promise to help you lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time. You can achieve weight loss on your own and without any pricey programs or diets that promise to eliminate your belly extremely quickly.
Remember that you didn’t gain the weight overnight, so it will take time to lose it. If you lose weight too quickly or in an unhealthy manner, it’s likely to return. It’s healthy to lose two to eight pounds per month. Weight loss will be greater early in your program. Don’t get discouraged if weight loss slows down. With more energy and better habits, the weight will continue to drop.
Don’t follow any diet that completely eliminates any main food group. Be sure that you are exercising your entire body, not just your abdominals.
The most important thing is to adopt a healthy lifestyle and stay consistent. Set attainable goals to keep you motivated.
Losing belly fat will have a positive effect on your overall health. Take it easy and aim for gradual weight loss instead of giant drops. Trying to do too much too soon can cause you to burn out and give up altogether.