There are too many fad diets and marketed weight loss programs to count anymore. And unhealthy products like weight loss pills or belly fat teas can be dangerous for our mental and physical health. So when it comes to losing weight, is there a healthy, sustainable way to do it?
The short answer is, yes, there is! To learn more, we talked with a few expert dietitians about eating habits that can help with losing belly fat, also known as visceral fat or abdominal fat. According to Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements and Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD, author at Go Wellness, the best ways to help you lose belly fat are incorporating regular fiber and getting enough protein into your daily diet.
Read on, and for more tips on healthy, sustainable ways to lose weight, check out 6 Best Foods to Reduce Belly Fat After 50.
Adding more fiber
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. And according to Best, both are crucial for losing belly fat and keeping it off. In fact, one research study found that for every 10 additional grams of fiber in their diet, participants saw a visceral fat reduction of 3.7% in a five-year period.
"Soluble fiber improves insulin sensitivity by feeding the gut's beneficial bacteria. When these bacteria are present in high numbers, they are better able to digest the food we eat and mitigate the body's insulin response, which can result in decreased belly fat," says Best. "Soluble fiber also slows sugar absorption, which prevents rapid spikes in blood sugar. This slower rate of absorption allows the cells to adjust to insulin's effects more slowly without a rapid influx."
Insoluble fiber, which exists in large amounts in many whole grains and veggies, can also help you meet your weight loss goals, and according to Best, "insoluble fiber sits in the intestines for longer periods which increases the feeling of fullness and prevents overeating."
How to eat more fiber to lose belly fat
When it comes to finding sources of fiber, Best suggests trying to meet your suggested amounts through food, first. But, "if you're unable to meet your needs through diet, it is best to supplement."
However, "it is best to slowly integrate fiber into your diet, or as a supplement, to reduce or prevent gas and bloating."
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According to D'Angelo, getting enough protein on a daily basis is one of the best ways to lose belly fat and keep it off.
"Proteins build our muscles, and the more muscles we have the faster our metabolic rate increases, resulting in burning more fat—especially belly fat," says D'Angelo. "The truth is, most people aren't eating enough protein per meal or per day. The amount of protein you want to eat per day depends on your weight goals. If you're just starting out eating more protein, start with about 25 grams per meal."
How to eat more protein to lose belly fat
It's one thing to just tell ourselves we need more protein, but finding delicious, healthy, high-protein foods may be a challenge if we aren't used to it yet. To start, here's what D'Angelo suggests:
"Some high-protein foods include chicken breast, turkey, pork, fish, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs, to name a few. You can also hit your protein goals by taking a protein shake or eating protein bars, but that should be after you eat a hearty meal."
Talking with your dietitian or doctor about incorporating more fiber and protein into your daily diet can be a great place to start on your journey to losing more visceral fat!