How Can I Lose Weight Around My Belly?

Reviewed on 8/31/2021
A healthy diet is probably the best way to lose the most weight around the belly, but exercise also plays an important role. Diet plus exercise works best to reduce weight around the belly.
A healthy diet is probably the best way to lose the most weight around the belly, but exercise also plays an important role. Diet plus exercise works best to reduce weight around the belly.

Weight around the belly consists of subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is found just under the skin that is usually harmless. Visceral fat is located deeper in the belly. It surrounds vital organs including the stomach, liver, and intestines and can cause health problems such as:

What's Considered Too Much Fat Around the Waist?

Women with a waist circumference that measures more than 35 inches and men with a waist circumference greater than 40 inches are more likely to develop problems due to visceral fat in the abdomen. 

What Diet Tips Can Help Lose Belly Fat?

Short of getting liposuction (a surgical fat-removal procedure) or cryolipolysis (a procedure that freezes fat cells), losing weight around the belly comes down to old fashioned diet and exercise.

A healthy diet is probably the best way to lose the most weight around the belly, but exercise also plays an important role, and diet plus exercise works best to reduce weight around the belly. 

 The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests:

  • Limiting total fat intake to 20 to 30 percent of total calories
  • Keeping saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent
  • Limiting trans fats

Additional diet tips to help lose weight around the belly include: 

  • Reducing sugar intake
    • The body doesn’t need much sugar and any excess is stored as fat
      • Most Americans consume much more sugar than is healthy
    • Reduce the sugars you consume by limiting or avoiding empty carbohydrates such as cookies, cakes, and white breads
  • Consume a plant-based diet
    • Beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas (called pulses) are high in fiber and plant protein and help keep blood sugar levels in check
    • They can also help keep you full which prevents overeating
    • This helps reduce overall body fat
    • People who consume whole grains lose more belly fat than those who eat processed grains
  • Intermittent fasting
    • A pattern of eating that is based on the concept that humans were designed to eat for short periods of time followed by hours (or sometimes days) of fasting
    • There are no restrictions on specific foods or the number of calories to be eaten, but restrictions on WHEN to eat
    • Popular methods include 16/8 (8 hours of eating followed by 16 hours of fasting), the “Eat-Stop-Eat” method (two 24-hour fasts per week on non-consecutive days); and the 5/2 method (only 500 calories for 2 non-consecutive days, and 5 days of normal eating per week)
    • Intermittent fasting has been shown to help reduce belly fat
  • Pick an eating plan you can stick with
  • Read labels and stay away from foods high in fats, sugar, or calories
  • Avoid processed foods which often contain excess trans fats, sugars, and sodium (salt)

What Exercise Tips Can Help Lose Belly Fat?

Exercise also plays an important role in reducing body fat, and diet plus exercise works best to reduce belly fat. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found people who exercised regularly were able to avoid weight gain around the belly, or were able to lose weight around the belly, compared to those who didn’t exercise. The study found that just 30 minutes of walking, six days per week was enough to prevent the accumulation of belly fat. Exercising longer rather than harder worked best to lose more belly fat and reduce the waistline. 

The best exercise regimen for fat loss includes both aerobic and strength exercises (resistance training). High-intensity interval training (HIIT), also called high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE), is a type of cardiovascular exercise that alternates between short bouts of high-intensity and slower to moderate-intensity exercise. The Obesity Reviews Journal reviewed 13 different studies on overweight adults and found that HIIT reduced weight and waist circumference.

Other tips to help you stay on track with your diet and exercise goals include: 

  • Find friends to join you 
    • Studies show that people are more likely to eat better and exercise more often if family or friends are doing the same
  • Focus on how your clothes fit rather than the number on the scale
    • Muscle mass weighs more than fat, so your weight on a scale may not change much but that doesn’t mean you’re not losing weight and belly fat
    • Measure your waist to keep track of progress

QUESTION

Weight loss occurs in the belly before anywhere else. See Answer

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Reviewed on 8/31/2021
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/obesity-in-adults-overview-of-management?search=visceral%20fat&source=search_result&selectedTitle=4~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=4#H2816277836

https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2020/lose-belly-fat-after-fifty.html

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/gim/core_resources/patient%20handouts/handouts_may_2012/the%20skinny%20on%20visceral%20fat.pdf

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28401638/

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/8-ways-to-lose-belly-fat-and-live-a-healthier-life