Everyone has some belly fat, even people who have flat abs.
That is normal. But too much belly fat can affect your health in a way that other fat does not.
Some of your fat is right under your skin. Other fat is deeper inside, around your heart, lungs, liver and other organs.
It is that deeper fat called visceral fat that may be the bigger problem, even for thin people.
You need some visceral fat. It provides cushioning around your organs.
But if you have too much of it, you may be more likely to get high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia and certain cancers including breast and colon cancer.
If you have a lot of excess fat around your waistline, even if you’re not very heavy, then you should take some steps to get rid of it.
Anything above 40 inches (102 cm) in men and 35 inches (88 cm) in women, is known as abdominal obesity.
There are actually a few proven strategies that have been shown to target the fat in the belly area more than other areas of the body.
Here are five evidence-based ways to lose belly fat.
1. Don’t eat too much sugar and avoid sugar-sweetened drinks
Added sugar is very unhealthy.
Studies show that it has uniquely harmful effects on metabolic health.
Numerous studies have shown that excess sugar, mostly due to the large amounts of fructose, can lead to increased accumulation of fat in the belly.
It increases belly fat and liver fat, which leads to insulin resistance and a host of metabolic problems.
Make a decision to minimize the amount of sugar in your diet, and consider completely eliminating sugary drinks.
This includes sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices and various high-sugar sports drinks.
If you want to cut back on refined sugar, then you must start reading labels. Even foods marketed as health foods can contain huge amounts of sugar.
2. Include more proteins in your diet
Protein is the most important macro-nutrient when it comes to losing weight.
It has been shown to reduce cravings by 60%, boost metabolism by 80-100 calories per day and help you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day.
If weight loss is your goal, then adding protein is perhaps the single most effective change you can do to your diet.
Make an effort to increase your intake of high-protein foods such as whole eggs, fish, seafood, legumes, nuts, meat, dairy products and some whole grains.
These are the best protein sources in the diet.
If you struggle with getting enough protein in your diet, then a quality protein supplement (like whey protein) is a healthy and convenient way to boost your total intake.
3. Cut carbs from your diet
Carb restriction is a very effective way to lose fat.
When people cut carbs, their appetite goes down and they lose weight.
Low-carb diets also lead to quick reductions in water weight, which gives people near instant results.
A major difference on the scale is often seen within a few days.
There are also studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, showing that low-carb diets specifically target the fat in the belly, and around the organs and liver.
Just avoiding the refined carbs (white breads, pastas, etc) should be sufficient, especially if you keep your protein high.
However, if you need to lose weight fast, then consider dropping your carbs down to 50 grams per day.
4. Eat foods that are rich in fiber
Dietary fiber is mostly indigestible plant matter.
It is often claimed that eating plenty of fiber can help with weight loss.
This is true, but it’s important to keep in mind that not all fiber is created equal.
It seems to be mostly the soluble and viscous fibers that have an effect on your weight.
These are fibers that bind water and form a thick gel that “sits” in the gut.
This gel can dramatically slow the movement of food through your stomach and small bowel, and slow down the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
The end result is a prolonged feeling of fullness and reduced appetite.
5. Exercise regularly
Exercise is important for various reasons.
It is among the best things you can do if you want to live a long, healthy life and avoid disease and effectively reducing belly fat.
Aerobic exercise (like walking, running, swimming, etc) has been shown to cause major reductions in belly fat.
Another study found that exercise completely prevented people from re-gaining abdominal fat after weight loss, implying that exercise is particularly important during weight maintenance.
Exercise also leads to reduced inflammation, blood sugar levels and all the other metabolic abnormalities that are associated with central obesity.
6. Eat plenty of fruits
Eating fruits can be fabulous way to lose weight and belly fat.
Low on calories and packed with nutrients, they also keep your belly full for a long time.
Whether it is for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or anytime in between your meals, you can enjoy those delicious fruits anywhere.
These include avocados, blueberries, apples, grapefruits and lemons.
However, while buying fruits, stay away from canned ones as they contain sugar syrups and are high in energy density.
The best fruits for your health are the natural ones, so it is always good if you use fresh fruits only.