How Do I Get Rid of Fat on My Stomach?

Reviewed on 12/14/2022

What Causes a Big Stomach in Females?

Woman in workout clothes looking at her belly fat
A healthy diet, coupled with exercise, is the best way to lose belly fat.

Fat on the stomach is made up of subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is located just under the skin that is usually harmless. Visceral fat is found deeper in the abdomen surrounding vital organs including the stomach, liver, and intestines. Visceral fat can cause health problems such as:

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

How to Get Rid of Belly Fat Quickly

Outside of surgical removal of fat on the stomach via liposuction or cryolipolysis (a procedure that freezes fat cells), getting rid of fat on the stomach is all about diet and exercise.

A healthy diet is probably the best way to lose the most weight around the belly, and some research has claimed that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. However, exercise does play an important role, and diet plus exercise works best to reduce fat on the stomach. 

 The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests:

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

Additional diet tips to help get rid of fat on the stomach include: 

  • Reducing sugar intake
    • The body doesn’t need much sugar and all excess is stored as fat
    • Limit or avoid empty carbohydrates such as cookies, cakes, and white breads
  • Try a plant-based diet
    • Beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas (called pulses) are high in fiber and plant protein and help maintain blood sugar levels 
    • They can help keep you full which helps prevent overeating
    • This helps reduce overall body fat
    • Those who consume whole grains lose more fat on the stomach than those who eat processed grains
  • Intermittent fasting
    • A pattern of eating based on the concept that humans were designed to eat for short periods of time followed by hours or days of fasting
    • There are no restrictions on foods to eat or the how many calories to eat, but there are restrictions on WHEN to eat
    • Popular intermittent fasting 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 get rid of fat on the stomach
  • Pick an eating plan you can stick with
  • Avoid processed foods which often have excess trans fats, sugars, and sodium (salt)
  • Read labels and stay away from foods high in fat, sugar, or calories

What Exercises Get Rid of Belly Fat?

Exercise is also important in reducing body fat, and diet plus exercise works best to get rid of fat on the stomach. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found people who exercised regularly were able to avoid weight gain around the stomach, or were able to lose weight around the stomach, compared to those who didn’t exercise. The study found that just 30 minutes of walking, 6 days per week was enough to prevent accumulation of fat on the stomach. Exercising longer rather than harder was most effective for stomach fat loss and waistline reduction. 

The best exercise program 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 sessions of high-intensity exercise 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 stay on track with diet and exercise goals include: 

  • Don’t go it alone
    • Studies show that people are more likely to eat more healthfully and exercise more frequently if family or friends are doing the same
  • Focus on how clothing fits rather than the number on the scale
    • Muscle mass weighs more than fat, so the weight on a scale may not change significantly but that doesn’t mean weight loss and stomach fat reduction are not occurring
    • Measure your waist to keep track of progress
Reviewed on 12/14/2022
Image source: iStock Images