Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat, Based on Science

6 Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat, Based on Science

Overweight does not necessarily equal unhealthy.

There are actually plenty of overweight people who are in excellent health (1).

Conversely, many normal weight people have the metabolic problems associated with obesity (2).

That’s because the fat under the skin is actually not that big of a problem (at least not from a health standpoint, it’s more of a cosmetic problem).

It’s the fat in the abdominal cavity, the belly fat, that causes the biggest issues (3).

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.

Belly fat is usually estimated by measuring the circumference around your waist. This can easily be done at home with a simple tape measure.

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 6 evidence-based ways to lose belly fat.

1. Don’t eat sugar and avoid sugar-sweetened drinks

Added sugar is very unhealthy.

Studies show that it has uniquely harmful effects on metabolic health (4).

Sugar is half glucose, half fructose, and fructose can only be metabolized by the liver in any significant amount (5).

When you eat a lot of refined sugar, the liver gets overloaded with fructose, and is forced to turn it all into fat (6).

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 (7).

Some believe that this is the primary mechanism behind sugar’s harmful effects on health. It increases belly fat and liver fat, which leads to insulin resistance and a host of metabolic problems (8).

Liquid sugar is even worse in this regard. Liquid calories don’t get “registered” by the brain in the same way as solid calories, so when you drink sugar-sweetened beverages, you end up eating more total calories (9, 10).

Studies show that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity in children, per each daily serving (11).

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.

Keep in mind that none of this applies to whole fruit, which are extremely healthy and have plenty of fiber that mitigates the negative effects of fructose.

The amount of fructose you get from fruit is negligible compared to what you get from a diet high in refined sugar.

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.

BOTTOM LINE:Excess sugar consumption may be the primary driver of belly fat accumulation, especially sugary beverages like soft drinks.

2. Eating more protein is a great long-term strategy to reduce belly fat

Protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to losing weight (12).

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 (13, 14, 15, 16).

If weight loss is your goal, then adding protein is perhaps the single most effective change you can do to your diet.

Not only will it help you lose, it can also help you avoid re-gaining weight if you ever decide to abandon your weight loss efforts (17, 18).

There is also some evidence that protein is particularly effective against belly fat.

One study showed that the amount and quality of protein consumed was inversely related to fat in the belly. That is, people who ate more and better protein had much less belly fat (19).

Another study in Denmark showed that protein was linked to significantly reduced risk of belly fat gain over a period of 5 years (20).

This study also showed that refined carbs and oils were linked to increased amounts of belly fat, but fruits and vegetables linked to reduced amounts.

Many of the studies showing protein to be effective had protein at 25-30% of calories. That’s what you should aim for.

So 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.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, then check out this article on how to increase your protein intake.

Bonus tip: Consider cooking your foods in coconut oil. Some studies have shownthat 30 mL (about 2 tablespoons) of coconut oil per day reduces belly fat slightly (21,22).

BOTTOM LINE:Eating enough protein is a very effective way to lose weight. Some studies suggest that protein is particularly effective against belly fat accumulation.

3. Cut carbs from your diet

Carb restriction is a very effective way to lose fat.

This is supported by numerous studies. When people cut carbs, their appetite goes down and they lose weight (23).

Over 20 randomized controlled trials have now shown that low-carb diets lead to 2-3 times more weight loss than low-fat diets (24, 25, 26).

This is true even when the low-carb groups are allowed to eat as much as they want, while the low-fat groups are calorie restricted and hungry.

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 (27, 28).

What this means is that a particularly high proportion of the fat lost on a low-carb diet is the dangerous and disease promoting abdominal fat.

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. This will put your body into ketosis, killing your appetite and making your body start burning primarily fats for fuel.

Of course, low-carb diets have many other health benefits besides just weight loss. They can have life-saving effects in type 2 diabetics, for example (29, 30).

BOTTOM LINE:Studies have shown that low-carb diets are particularly effective at getting rid of the fat in the belly area, around the organs and in the liver.

4. Eat foods rich in fiber, especially viscous 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 (31).

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 (32).

One review study found that an additional 14 grams of fiber per day were linked to a 10% decrease in calorie intake and weight loss of 2 kg (4.5 lbs) over 4 months (33).

In one 5-year study, eating 10 grams of soluble fiber per day was linked to a 3.7% reduction in the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity, but it had no effect on the amount of fat under the skin (34).

What this implies, is that soluble fiber may be particularly effective at reducing the harmful belly fat.

The best way to get more fiber is to eat a lot of plant foods like vegetables and fruit. Legumes are also a good source, as well as some cereals like oats.

Then you could also try taking a fiber supplement like glucomannan. This is one of the most viscous dietary fibers in existence, and has been shown to cause weight loss in many studies (35, 36).

BOTTOM LINE:There is some evidence that soluble dietary fiber may lead to reduced amounts of belly fat, which should cause major improvements in metabolic health.

5. Exercise is very effective at reducing belly fat

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.

Getting into all of the amazing health benefits of exercise is beyond the scope of this article, but exercise does appear to be effective at reducing belly fat.

However, keep in mind that I’m not talking about abdominal exercises here. Spot reduction (losing fat in one spot) is not possible, and doing endless amounts of crunches will not make you lose fat from the belly.

In one study, 6 weeks of training just the abdominal muscles had no measurable effect on waist circumference or the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity (37).

That being said, other types of exercise can be very effective.

Aerobic exercise (like walking, running, swimming, etc) has been shown to cause major reductions in belly fat in numerous studies (38, 39).

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 (40).

Exercise also leads to reduced inflammation, blood sugar levels and all the other metabolic abnormalities that are associated with central obesity (41).

BOTTOM LINE:Exercise can be very effective if you are trying to lose belly fat. Exercise also has a number of other health benefits.

6. Track your foods and figure out exactly what and how much you are eating

What you eat is important. Pretty much everyone knows this.

However, surprisingly, most people actually don’t have a clue what they are really eating.

People think they’re eating “high protein,” “low-carb” or whatever, but tend to drastically over- or underestimate.

I think that for anyone who truly wants to optimize their diet, tracking things for a while is absolutely essential.

It doesn’t mean you need to weigh and measure everything for the rest of your life, but doing it every now and then for a few days in a row can help you realize where you need to make changes.

If you want to boost your protein intake to 25-30% of calories, as recommended above, just eating more protein rich foods won’t cut it. You need to actually measure and fine tune in order to reach that goal.

Check out these articles here for a calorie calculator and a list of free online tools and apps to track what you are eating.

I personally do this every few months. I weigh and measure everything I eat to see what my current diet is looking like.

Then I know exactly where to make adjustments in order to get closer to my goals.

Vegan Diet for Weight Loss: All You Need TO Know

Is weight loss possible?

If you’re looking to shed some pounds, you may have considered trying a vegan diet. Vegans don’t eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products. Instead, they eat things like fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, as well as plant-based milks, other nondairy products, and meat alternatives.

Although some people choose the vegan lifestyle out of ethical concerns for animals, the diet itself can have some health benefits. Ac, Is this  Approach healthy?cording to recent studies, being vegan may even help you lose a significant amount of weight.

How exactly? More research is needed, but it’s thought that going vegan may lead to reducing the number of high-calorie foods you consume. With a vegan diet, you may end up replacing such foods with high-fiber alternatives that are low in calories and keep you fuller longer.

IS IT HEALTHY?But is this approach healthy?

Cutting out some of the main food groups in your diet may seem unhealthy. And unless you carefully pay attention to your nutrition, it can be.

Some worry, for example, about getting enough protein or other essential nutrients, like vitamin B-12. This vitamin is found naturally only in animal products, and if you become deficient, it may result in anemia. Vegans need to supplement their diet with vitamins, vitamin-fortified cereals, and fortified soy products to avoid deficiencies.

Others may have trouble with yo-yo dieting after going vegan. What does this mean? It’s when you go through cycles of losing weight and then regaining all or more of that weight, possibly after having trouble sticking to vegan-only foods. This type of dieting is associated with some serious health consequences, like an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Regardless of these and other possible pitfalls, you can eat a vegan diet healthily and lose weight. The key — as with all diets — is focusing on nutrient-dense foods versus empty calories. For vegans, these foods would include things like:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains
  • beans and legumes
  • nuts and seeds

Limit or avoid vegan processed foods that contain these added ingredients:

  • fats
  • sugars
  • starches
  • sodium
  • food additives

OTHER WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT

Tips for weight loss

Women generally need to eat 2,000 calories each day to maintain weight. To lose weight, this number drops to around 1,500 calories a day. Men generally need to eat 2,500 calories each day to maintain their weight and around 2,000 calories a day to lose weight.

A junk-food calorie doesn’t equal a whole-food calorie as far as nutrition goes. Even if you stay below your calorie goal, filling up on all Nutter Butter cookies, which happen to be vegan, is very different from filling up on buckets of fresh produce.

There are many factors that affect weight loss, including:

  • age
  • height
  • current weight
  • diet
  • physical activity levels
  • metabolic health
  • other medical issues

Although you can’t control all of these factors, you can control your diet and exercise. Regardless of the type of diet you choose, you should follow these guidelines for healthy eating

1. Time your meals

Grazing throughout the day isn’t good for weight loss. Timing your meals is essential to boosting your metabolism and promoting healthy eating habits.

In general, try eating meals at the same time each day to get your mind and stomach into a predictable pattern. Munch on a larger breakfast in comparison to the other meals in your day. This may mean shifting your lunch a bit earlier and eating a smaller dinner.

If you’ve exercised, try eating within 45 minutes of finishing. This will help feed and repair your muscles.

When shouldn’t you eat? Within two hours of bedtime. Consuming calories too close to bedtime is associated with weight gain and sleep disturbances.

WATCH YOUR PORTIONS

2. Watch your portions

Portion sizes matter with any of the foods you eat — vegan or not. The United States Department of Agriculture’s My Plate suggests that average women and men get the following number of servings of these foods each day:

Food group Servings for women Servings for men
grains 6 9
vegetables 3+ 4+
fruits 2 3
dairy or dairy alternatives 2–3 2–3
meat and beans 5 ounces 6 ounces
fats/oils 5–6 6–7

Here are examples of single servings of different foods in each group for vegans:

grains • 1 slice bread
• 1 cup cold cereal
• 1/2 cup cooked cereal, pasta, or rice
vegetables • 1 cup raw leafy greens
• 1/2 cup raw or cooked veggies
• 3/4 cup vegetable juice
fruits • 1 medium piece whole fruit, such as an apple, banana, orange, or pear
• 1/2 cup chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
• 3/4 cup no sugar-added fruit juice
dairy • 1 cup nondairy milk
meat and beans • 1/2 cup cooked dry beans
• 1/2 cup tofu
• 2-1/2 ounces soy burger
• 2 tablespoons peanut butter
• 1/3 cup nuts
fats • 1 tablespoon oil
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1/2 medium avocado
• 1 ounce nuts
• 2 tablespoons nut butter

3. Make sure you’re getting enough protein

Current recommendations for protein intake are around 5.5 ounces per day, or around 0.41 grams per pound of body weight. This means a 150-pound woman should consume approximately 61 grams of protein each day. A 175-pound man should consume around 72 grams each day.

When you break this down into calories, there are about 4 calories per gram of protein. So the woman in this example would need to get 244 calories from protein each day, and the man would need to get 288 calories from protein.

Good sources of plant protein include:

Food Serving size Grams of protein
tempeh 1 cup 31
soybeans 1 cup 29
seitan 3 ounces 21
lentils 1 cup 18
beans, such as chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans 1 cup 15
tofu, firm 4 ounces 11
quinoa 1 cup 8
textured vegetable protein (TVP) 1/2 cup 8
peanut butter 2 tablespoons 8

4. Pass on “healthy” drinks

Before you sip that store-bought smoothie, consider how many calories it might contain. Even so-called healthy drinks and energy mixes can pack quite a caloric punch.

First, let’s take a look at a beverage most people know to steer clear while dieting: A 20-ounce soda contains around 240 calories and 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar.

But what about that freshly squeezed orange juice? It contains about 279 calories per 20 ounces. That acai smoothie? It may contain 460 calories per 20 ounces.

Read labels carefully and consider saving these drinks for special occasions.

Sticking with water is typically your best bet when trying to lower the number on the scale. It’s hydrating and contains zero calories. If you don’t like plain water, you might consider adding a squeeze of lemon or lime or trying herbal teas and sparkling waters.

DON’T BINGE

5. Don’t binge on plant-based desserts

The same rules apply to vegan and non-vegan desserts: Eat them in moderation. The average American eats a whopping 22.2 teaspoons of sugar each day. Whether that comes from a decadent ice cream sundae or a batch of vegan cookies, it’s still 335 calories that contain little nutritional value.

Sugar can actually disrupt your metabolism and lead to health issues beyond weight gain, including high blood pressure, inflammation, and elevated blood triglycerides. How much of the sweet stuff is enough? Women should try to limit their daily sugars to around 6 teaspoons or 100 calories each day. Men should aim to get fewer than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories each day.

If you’re looking for a healthy vegan dessert option that’s relatively low in calories without added sugars and fats, try fresh fruit. Otherwise, eat a small portion of a vegan dessert and save the rest for tomorrow or next week.

TAKEAWAY

The bottom line

Eating a vegan diet may help you lose weight. Still, it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor or a dietitian before making big changes to your diet. You should discuss how you’ll get critical nutrients, like protein and B vitamins.

Your doctor may also have other suggestions for how you might lose weight, like keeping a food diary or engaging in a regular exercise routine.

How to Lose Weight Fast Based on Science

There are many ways to lose a lot of weight fast.

However, most of them will make you hungry and unsatisfied.

If you don’t have iron willpower, then hunger will cause you to give up on these plans quickly.

The plan outlined here will:

  • Reduce your appetite significantly.
  • Make you lose weight quickly, without hunger.
  • Improve your metabolic health at the same time.
  • Here is a simple 3-step plan to lose weight fast.

Continue reading “How to Lose Weight Fast Based on Science”