How to Lose Belly Fat

Five Parts:Jump-starting Your MetabolismExercising for Fat LossDieting for Fat LossMeasuring ProgressStaying Motivated

There are many dangerous and ineffective gimmicks about how to lose belly fat. While there is no "magic bullet" that will target abdominal fat in particular, this article will explain what causes an expanding waistline and how you can make that spare tire go away.

Part 1
Jump-starting Your Metabolism

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    Eat breakfast. It might seem counterproductive to eat if you're trying to lose weight, but studies show that eating breakfast within an hour of waking up keeps your insulin levels steadier and your LDL cholesterol levels lower.[1]
    Building a healthy breakfast:
    Choose a protein: eggs, beans, peanut butter, nuts, lean meat
    Choose a fiber: oats, fresh fruit, leafy green vegetables
    Minimize refined sugar: Avoid sugary cereal, pancakes, pastries, instant oatmeal
    Tip: Oats and other low-GI carbs maintain healthy blood sugar levels, making it easier to lose weight
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    Decompress. Research indicates that the secretion of cortisol (a hormone your body produces during times of stress) is correlated with an increase in belly fat.[2] Some strategies for combating everyday stress:
    • Most people need at least
      7 hours of sleep
      every night.[3]
    • Set aside time to relax. Even if it's only 15 minutes on your lunch break, find time to simply close your eyes, breathe deeply, and forget your worries.
    • Keep anything that stresses you away from where you sleep as much as is practically possible.
      Keep your workspace and bedroom separate.
      Resolve to leave your worries behind as soon as you step into your bedroom.
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    Aim to take 10,000 steps a day. In one study where men reduced their daily steps from about 10,000 to less than 1,500 (without changing their diet), their visceral (belly) fat increased by 7% after just 2 weeks.[4]
    • Get a pedometer and try to increase the number of daily steps you take.
    • Take stairs instead of elevators; walk instead of driving.
    • Stand up and walk for 30 steps every 30 minutes. If you have a sedentary job, consider getting a treadmill desk.
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    Switch out refined grains for whole grains. In a scientific study, people who ate all whole grains (in addition to five servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of low-fat dairy, and two servings of lean meat, fish, or poultry) lost more belly fat than another group that ate the same diet, but with all refined grains.[5]
    • Grains melt fat. A diet rich in whole grains changes the glucose and insulin response in your body to hasten the melting of fat, and visceral fat, that deep layer of fat, is easier for your body to burn than the subcutaneous fat under your skin (the fat that can be seen and grabbed).
    • Avoid white grains. For instance, eat brown wheat bread instead of over-processed white bread, and favor wild brown rice over white rice.
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    Drink plenty of water. Studies suggest that consistently drinking water throughout the day can lead to a more active metabolism, regardless of dieting.[6] Drinking more water also helps your body flush out waste/toxins and improves your overall health.
    • Aim to drink an 8-oz. glass of water 8 times per day, or 64 ounces total.
    • Carry a water bottle so that you can drink whenever you feel thirsty.
    • Know how to tell when you're sufficiently hydrated. You'll know you're drinking enough water when your urine runs almost clear. If it's still yellow, drink up.
    • Significantly reduce alcohol, sugary drinks (like Coke, 7-Up, Pepsi and all the diet drinks), and carbonated beverages. [7]

Part 2
Exercising for Fat Loss

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    Exercise in small bursts. Research shows that interval training, or alternating short bursts of energy with brief resting periods, can improve muscle and build endurance more quickly than traditional exercise.[8]
    Interval Training for Weight Loss:
    Sprints: Run at top speed for 20 seconds, then slow to a walk until you catch your breath. Repeat for 10 minutes.
    Exercise equipment: Set a treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike for interval training.
    Quick options: Fit brisk 5-minute walks or stair climbing into your day as often as possible.
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    Skip the crunches — for now. Abdominal crunches and sit-ups should build strong muscles, but you might not see them under belly fat. In fact, crunches might actually make your stomach look bigger as you build up thicker abs. Instead, if you strengthen your back muscles, your posture will improve and pull in your belly.
    Alternative core exercises:
    Planks: Get in the push up position, but rest on your elbows and forearms. Pull your stomach muscles in tight, keeping your back, neck, and bottom in a straight line. Hold this position for 30 seconds or as long as possible. Rest and repeat 3-5 times.
    Squats: Stand with your feet about 8 inches (20 cm) apart. Extend your arms in front of you and do four sets of 15-20 squats.
    Side stretches: Stand up straight, with your feet hip-width apart. Put your right hand on your right hip, and lift your left arm straight up, with the palm facing right. Keeping your legs centered, lean to the right and "reach" over with your left arm, stretching your left side. Repeat 3-5 times on each side.
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    Ramp up the cardio. Do aerobic exercises which get your heart pumping, burn calories quickly and facilitate fat loss all over the body, including your belly. You can't "spot-burn" belly fat, but it's usually the first to burn off when you exercise, regardless of body shape or size.[9]
    • Time your miles. Track your progress by timing how long it takes to run a mile. As cardiovascular stamina improves, you'll notice the time going down.
    • Correct shin splints. If you get painful shin splints (pain along the front of your shins when you run), you may be over-pronating (landing with most of your weight on the outer side of your foot). There are shoes designed specifically to help alleviate this.
    • Don't overdo it. Start with three cardio workouts a week.
      Pushing yourself hard every day doesn't allow your body enough time to recover and build up muscle, and could lead to injury.
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    Add resistance training. A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests that combining cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise with resistance training is more effective than cardiovascular training alone in getting rid of abdominal fat.[10] You can do resistance training with free weights, exercise machines or resistance bands and it may also be useful to train from unstable positions due to increased muscle activity.

Part 3
Dieting for Fat Loss

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    Reduce calorie consumption. Unless you restrict calorie intake, you won't lose belly fat. Try these tips:
    • Remember that it takes a 3500-calorie deficit to lose one pound of fat. That is, you have to either burn off 3500 calories through exercise or eat 3500 calories less than you burn in a week.
    • Aim to lose a maximum of two pounds per week.
      Losing any more than that can be unhealthy and leads to a cycle of "crash" dieting, in which you rapidly gain back any lost weight.
    • Keep a food diary. Most people tend to underestimate how much they eat. Get an honest assessment of your eating habits by writing down everything you consume for a week. Utilize an online calorie calculator, and figure out roughly how many calories you're consuming in a day. From there, see what you can afford to cut.
    • Try a diet in which you consume 2200 calories (men) or 2000 calories (women) per day. This should cause a deficit sufficient for you to lose one or two pounds per week, depending on your activity level.
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    Eat good fats. Studies suggest that a diet with a higher ratio of monounsaturated fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, soybeans, and chocolate — can prevent the accumulation of belly fat.
    • Trans fats (in margarines, crackers, cookies, or anything made with partially hydrogenated oils) seem to result in more fat being deposited in the abdomen. Avoid these as much as possible.
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    Get more fiber in your diet. Soluble fiber (such as that found in apples, oats, and cherries) lowers insulin levels which can speed up the burning of visceral belly fat.
    • Add fiber to your diet slowly. If you are currently getting 10g of fiber a day, don't jump to 35g of fiber the next day. The natural bacteria in your digestive system requires time to adapt to your new fiber intake.
    • Eat the skin on your fruits and vegetables. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet adds fiber, but only if you eat the skin, as that's where most of the fiber is. Don't peel those apples before you eat them. With potatoes, leave the skin on (with baked or mashed potatoes) or if you peel them, make snacks of them, such as baked garlic Parmesan peels. Keeping the skin on potatoes when cooking them helps keep more vitamins/minerals in the flesh (just don't eat any parts of skin that are green).
    • Eat more split pea soup. Split peas are a fiber "power food". Just one cup of them contains 16.3g of protein.

Part 4
Measuring Progress

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    Calculate your waist-to-hip ratio. Your waist-to-hip ratio — or the circumference of your waist divided by the circumference of your hips — can be a good indicator of whether you need to lose belly fat. Here's how to get it:
    • Wrap a soft tape measure around the thinnest part of your waist at the level of your navel. Note the measurement.
    • Wrap the tape measure around the widest part of your hips, where you can feel a bony protrusion about 1/3 of the way from the top of the hipbone. Note the measurement.
    • Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
    • Know what's healthy. Women should have a ratio of 0.8 or below; men should be at 0.9 or lower.[11]
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    Continue taking your measurements as you progress. After incorporating some of the above strategies, keep measuring so you can see your progress.
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    Weigh yourself at the same time each day. Because body weight fluctuates depending on the time of day, when you last ate or when you last had a bowel movement, standardize the process by weighing yourself at the same time each day. Many people choose to do this the first thing in the morning, before breakfast.

Part 5
Staying Motivated

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    Join forces with a friend. Trying to lose weight with a partner can help you stay accountable for your actions, as well as giving you an extra incentive to keep exercise appointments. Share your victories together, and discuss solutions to whatever roadblocks you encounter.
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    Understand risks associated with belly fat. Losing belly fat doesn't have to be solely a cosmetic goal; understanding the health issues linked with belly fat can help motivate you.
    • Belly fat is linked with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Specifically it's the deepest layer of belly fat — the fat you can't see or grab — that poses health risks. That's because these "visceral" fat cells actually produce hormones and other substances that can affect your health (e.g. increased insulin resistance and/or breast cancer risk).[12]
    • The fact that "visceral" fat cells are located right next to and in between organs in your abdominal cavity doesn't help. For example, fat next to the liver drains into it, causing a fatty liver, which is a risk factor for insulin resistance, setting the stage for Type 2 diabetes.[13]

Test Your Knowledge

Lose Belly Fat Quiz


  • Skipping (jump rope) is great for losing body fat. It burns more calories than running.
  • Exercise in the morning. It burns more calories than any other time of the day. It can be hard waking up with energy so try to get as much sleep as possible, around 7-8 hours for adults you will see the results.
  • Doing stretches in the morning works out your muscles. Remember to eat a healthy breakfast, go for a walk, drink water, get a good night's sleep, and be kind to yourself.
  • Doing a few jumping jacks or push-ups just after waking up will also kick-start your metabolism and also wake you up!
  • If you're not that in to regular water, add a slice of lemon, lime, or orange to it.
  • When you feel dragged down because you haven't slept much, consume lean proteins. Without proper sleep, we tend to crave sugar and junk food. Curtail this by eating lean proteins (nuts, fish...).
  • Green tea is a brilliant alternative to coffee and other drinks that are commonly consumed.
  • Remember you have to feel good about your self too! It doesn't matter if you are over weight, you are still very unique.
  • If you don't have weights for resistance training, you can start by lifting anything heavy. Or, you can use gravity as resistance: do pull ups and push ups.
  • Do something you enjoy for exercise such as sport or cycling. This will improve your mental drive as it seems 'easier'.
  • Make a fun exercising and cleaning game to get through all of your chores.
  • Don't think that adopting an eating disorder is the way to go. Even if its 'temporary', it still is the type of thing that will stay with you forever. Eating disorders aren't the type of thing you can just get over.
  • Having trouble getting motivated to exercise? Get halfway there. If you want to go to the gym, but don't feel like it, just drive/walk there, and say that if you still don't feel like exercising, you'll go home. Odds are, once you're there, you'll stay. Then say you'll just use the treadmill for 10 minutes, even if your routine involves much more. Just telling yourself to do one more thing, without having to commit to anything else, will make things much easier. Before long, your endorphins will take over.
  • If you get lots of sweet cravings, replace sweets and sugar with fruits. The sugars in fruits are digested differently than the empty calories of white sugar that are in most candy and processed foods. The fiber in fruit also slows the absorption of the sugars so you don't get as high a sugar rush (and as low a crash).
  • An easy way to burn more fat is to walk everywhere within a reasonable distance. You save money on gas, and also save wear and tear on your vehicle. And you might save parking charges and/or cab, bus or subway fares. All you need are comfortable shoes (take your dressier shoes with you if necessary) and walk, walk, walk. Pick up the pace as you get fitter to quicken those short journeys and smile at all the traffic congestion. Biking is also great as you are working hard and arriving to destinations faster.
  • Avoid eating at fast food restaurants. If you can't go cold turkey, try following the advice here.
  • The way bodies distribute fat is largely beyond control and can be dependent on several factors (genetics, menopause, etc.). What is within your control is your level of body fat overall — if you keep that low, it won't really matter where the fat goes, as there won't be much fat in the first place.
  • Put a note on the fridge to remind yourself to stay away from the sweets and chips since you're trying to lose weight.
  • Eat with three hour gaps with no snacking in between those hours. For example if you taken breakfast at 7 am, then take some fruits at 10 am, eat lunch at 1-2 pm, take healthy snack like popcorn or green tea at 4-5 pm, dinner at 7-8 pm, and drink milk half an hour before going to bed. Don't snack in between. You'll be surprised how much you lose.
  • There are lots of free calorie-counting apps for the iPhone and iPod touch (and probably Android). These are a great easy way to track your food, and many will input brand name foods and their nutrition facts for you!
  • Many women start gaining more weight in their belly as they age, especially after menopause. The body fat distribution changes — less fat goes to your arms, legs and hips, and more goes to your midsection. Some people even find their waistline widening while their weight remains the same.[12] Nonetheless, the above steps will help to do away with belly fat.
  • Try to cycle to near-by places, such as the grocery store. Carry a bag along with you. With the supplies, your bag pack will get heavy. Cycle around for an hour. It will help in losing fat from all over your body.
  • Many different supplements exist today that can help with fat loss in many ways. Ranging from a quick energy boost to increasing the speed of the metabolism. They can help make exercise feel easier leading to longer and more intense exercise and the metabolic effects can make you burn more calories with the same amount of exercise. Examples of useful and safe supplements in this area would be Green Tea, Green Coffee Bean, Raspberry Ketones, Acai Berry etc.
  • Remember that spot reducing is not possible. You lose weight from all over your body, not just from one place. If you want to lose abdominal fat, you're going to lose fat in other areas as well.


  • Doing only sit-ups and crunches can actually cause the appearance of more belly fat, as the abdominal muscles grow in size and shape, they will push out against the fat, making it appear larger and thicker.
  • Do not try to lose weight too rapidly. Crash diets and diet pills that promise weight loss are usually bad for you and actually don't help keep the weight off in the long run. Resist the urge to take the "easy" way out and instead stick with a healthier lifestyle. This way you lose the weight and improve your health, helping you keep the weight off in a way that won't harm you in the long run.

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