A bulging belly not only messes up your plans of wearing trendy summer outfits but also poses a potential threat to your health. However, your dream of a toned tummy can become a reality with a proper diet and enhanced physical activity!
Belly fat serves as a severe threat to your health. It can lead to serious consequences.
This is because the bulge hanging from your abdomen is mostly due to the visceral fat surrounding your organs.
People with visceral fat are at high risk for diabetes, cardiovascular problems, stroke, and metabolic syndrome. (1, 2) Hence, getting rid of this dangerous visceral fat is important for a risk-free, healthy life.
Although shrinking your waistline isn’t as easy as it seems; however, it isn’t impossible. You may lose belly fat easily by making some lifestyle changes. Remember! Consistency is the key.
To find the fastest way to lose belly fat, read and incorporate the following tips in your daily life.
- Choose High-Fiber Foods
Soluble fiber is the indigestible plant material that significantly enhances weight loss by slowing the process of digestion.
As soon as it enters the stomach, it dissolves to become a gel-like matrix and slows down the rate of digestion, thereby keeping you feeling full for longer hours. Hence, you don’t feel hungry frequently when on a high-fiber diet which boosts weight loss. (3)
In a study, a reduction in the total dietary fiber contributed to a significant enhancement of visceral fat. (4)
Research also reveals that dietary fiber promotes satiation, improves fasting blood glucose levels, and decreases food intake. Americans consume 16g of fiber per day on average, which is way too low than the recommended 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men per day. (5, 6)
Following are the easily available best sources of dietary fiber that can be incorporated into your weight-loss diet.
- Brussel sprouts
- Spaghetti squash
- Flax Seeds
Summary: Fiber plays a significant role in weight loss by slowing digestion and enhancing satiety. Hence, adding them to your diet can boost your weight loss plan.
- Cut Carbs
Cutting back on carbohydrates doesn’t mean you have to restrict them completely. Reducing the carb intake or replacing refined carbs with starchy carbohydrates can help you get rid of stubborn belly fat.
A study was conducted in which people who were given whole grains instead of white rice, along with other dietary changes, gained less weight than the ones who consumed refined carbs (7)
In another study, the consumption of whole-grain carbs was associated with lower abdominal fat, whereas the consumption of refined grains was associated with higher abdominal fat. (8)
Simple carbs are fast-burning foods that raise blood sugar levels quickly as they are broken down into simple sugars. Hence, their digestion is followed by immediate insulin release, which removes sugar from the blood and makes you hungry again. (9)
As per research, participants on a low-carb diet lost more belly fat in contrast to the ones on a low-fat diet. (10) In another study, consuming a moderately low-carb diet for three months led to significant abdominal fat loss in patients with type-2 diabetes. (11)
Summary: As per research, a moderately low-carb diet and replacement of refined carbs with starchy carbs can help in losing belly fat.
- Boost Your Protein Intake
Normally, 0.8g/kg body weight is the required protein in a diet, whereas a high protein diet can be 1.2g/kg body weight. (14) In a clinical trial, participants on a high-protein diet lost body weight along with noticeable changes in fat-free mass, resting energy expenditure, and blood pressure, unlike those on a normal diet. (15)
Another study showed a drastic reduction in abdominal fat in functionally limited men older than 65 years of age after consuming a high protein diet (1.3g/kg body weight). (16)
A high-protein diet limits your appetite and makes you consume fewer calories. It also preserves and retains lean body mass and reduces fat mass at the same time. (17)
Hence, replacing dietary carbohydrates with protein sources that are also low in fats can help you shed some extra pounds. (18)
Following are some proteins that can be included in the diet to promote fast weight loss:
- Lean meats
- Black beans
Summary: Convincing evidence suggests that a high-protein diet can improve satiety, induce thermogenesis, and preserve lean body mass leading to weight loss.
- Stay Hydrated
An increase in water intake is directly associated with weight loss due to its appetite-suppressant nature. Water enhances the process of lipid breakdown (lipolysis), makes you feel satiated, and reduces the total energy intake. (19,20,21)
A study shows an average weight loss of 5.15% by simply increasing water intake, replacing high-calorie beverages with water, and drinking water before a meal. (22)
Based on research, water consumption prior to the meal facilitates weight loss. In a study, participants who were given 500ml of water before meal showed a 44% greater decrease in weight with an excessive 2kg loss over a period of 12 weeks than the non-water group. (23)
Summary: Increased hydration, premeal water consumption, and replacement of calorie-rich beverages with water can help you lose weight quickly.
- Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats are those processed fats that have gone through the process of hydrogenation to prevent the rancidification of fats. Examples include stick margarine, fried, and baked foods.
Recent studies suggest that trans fats are more likely to increase body weight. (24)
Trans fats not only lead to weight gain, including abdominal fat gain but also affect your cardiovascular health adversely by increasing the bad (LDL) and reducing the good cholesterol (HDL).
In a study, increased trans fatty acid intake increased the risk of cardiovascular diseases and also led to an increase in body weight along with waist circumference. (25)
Summary: Avoiding trans fats can help reduce the risk of cardiac issues and prevent weight gain.
- Watch Your Calorie Count
Watching your calorie count holds a significant role because exercises alone can’t help if your diet isn’t under control.
Since spot reduction doesn’t work, physical activity accompanied by foods that burn belly fat fast under a limited calorie count can boost weight loss.
Plan your meals appropriately and reduce the number of total calories than normal. Research suggests that abdominal fat relatively changes in both men and women when consuming a low-calorie diet; however, it is more pronounced in men. (26)
Studies also reveal that even exposure to high-calorie foods can stimulate the brain, leading to increased hunger and cravings, promoting an increase in abdominal fat. (27)
Summary: Restrict your calorie count and avoid high-calorie foods to prevent abdominal fat gain.
- Sleep Well
Restricted sleep can interfere with energy expenditure and cause an increase in the hunger hormone “Ghrelin” and reduce the hormone that promotes satiety “Leptin.”
Short sleep duration can enhance the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue that makes up belly fat. (30) In a study, participants who slept for four hours experienced a significant increase in belly fat (both subcutaneous and visceral). In contrast, those who slept for 9 hours didn’t experience an increase in abdominal fat. (31)
As per a study, in people, less than 40 years of age, sleep less than 5 hours caused a 13 cm2 increase in abdominal fat, whereas that of more than 8 hours was associated with a 7 cm2 increase in abdominal fat over a period of five years relative to the duration of six to seven hours of range. (32)
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a healthy individual needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night. A sleep way less than the range can promote belly fat accumulation.
Summary: Restricting sleep can significantly contribute to increased abdominal fat. Hence, prioritizing your sleep can help you avoid fat accumulation in the belly region.
- Load Up on Fruits and Vegetables
Some fruits that are rich in polyphenols and fiber can be of great help in burning belly fat because they promote satiety and boost metabolism.
Fruits are also storehouses of antioxidants that improve the body’s immune system and boost metabolism, which directly induces weight loss by thermogenesis.
Vegetables are also fully packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants which improve your metabolism leading to weight loss. Hence, consuming more veggies can help you achieve a flat belly.
Spinach and all other green leafy vegetables, including kale, can give your day a fresh start. Furthermore, mushrooms are rich in proteins and, as per research, also possess anti-obesity properties. (35)
Other veggies that should be incorporated into a fat-loss diet include pumpkin, beans, cucumbers, cauliflowers, and broccolis.
Summary: Fruits and vegetables are both rich in fiber, polyphenols, and antioxidants and can help in healthy and sustainable weight loss.
- Increase Your Physical Activities
Diet alone isn’t enough for burning belly fat. Increasing your physical activity along with careful diet control can boost your weight loss leading to reduced belly fat.
According to research, a brisk walk is the easiest and most effective way of burning calories. (37) For weight loss, high-intensity interval training is also considered effective.
Summary: Physical activities, including walking, HIIT exercises, and daily workouts, can help you reduce belly fat when paired with a low-calorie diet.
There is no way you can target your belly fat only. Overall, fat loss can contribute to the reduction of abdominal fat as well, and for that, you’ll have to monitor your calorie intake, alter your diet, and increase your physical activity.