Yes, Losing Belly Fat Can Be Easy—Start With These 8 Simple Tips
Belly fat is one of the hardest things to shed when it comes to weight loss. And one contributing factor to a larger belly is visceral fat.
"You could look thin on the outside, but you could have visceral fat, deep fat surrounding your major organs," explains Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table. "This is not visible to the eye, but if you live with the combo of an unhealthy diet (if you don’t move your body, if you smoke or if you have unhealthy habits), you may be putting yourself at risk for lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers."
But one of the biggest contributors to gaining belly fat is poor nutrition.
"Diet is key to losing belly fat," says Caroline Susie, RDN, LD, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "While you cannot just lose weight in one region (think spot-reduce), you can reduce your weight and overall body fat percentage."
Related: 10 Foods That Can Help Reduce Visceral Fat
Luckily, there are tons of easy ways to lose belly fat naturally that ou can incorporate into your life right now. Here are 8 of them.
How to Lose Belly Fat Naturally
Stay in a calorie deficit
"Being in a calorie deficit will lead to overall weight loss, which in turn can help your waistline," explains Susie.
To determine how many calories you need to eat to stay in a calorie deficit, she adds that there are many factors that contribute, such as age, height, weight, gender, activity level and more. "I recommend you meet with a registered dietitian who can help you establish your calorie needs and design a personalized nutrition game plan to help you meet your goals," says Susie. (To find a dietitian, visit eatright.org.)
Focus on fiber
"Only 1 in 10 Americans meet the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables," says Susie. "Whole fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, and research suggests that people who meet the recommended daily amount of fiber have a lower BMI."
She notes that according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, for women the goal is 25 grams a day. And for men, it is 38 grams a day.
"Additionally, fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants," adds Susie.
Related: How to Lose Belly Fat: 30 Best Ways to Help Decrease Stomach
Eat protein at every meal
You lose both fat and lean body mass when losing weight.
"To preserve your lean body mass, you want to ensure you are consuming high-quality protein at every meal," explains Susie. "Protein helps build muscle but it also helps with satiety—meaning you stay fuller, longer (no getting 'hangry' here!)."
She notes that protein can be animal or plant-based, so long as you opt for lean protein. "More doesn't always mean better! Any excess calories are just that—excess," she adds.
Skip the processed foods
"By eating less sugary foods, foods lower in sodium, less highly processed foods and less foods laden in unhealthy saturated fats, then you can reduce overall fat in your body, including belly fat," says Taub-Dix.
Learn your hunger and fullness cues
If you grew up being told to always "clean your plate," you may struggle with identifying fullness cues.
"Don't eat while distracted (like eating while bingeing the hottest series on Netflix!)," says Susie. "Instead, focus on your meal and listen to your body."
She adds that a good rule of thumb is to eat until you are about 80% full, or until you are no longer hungry."Don't get lost in portion distortion. Measure out your portions, sit down and eat mindfully," says Susie. "This will prevent over-eating, which can lead to a calorie excess."
Related: 40 Best Foods That Burn Belly Fat
"Exercise also takes an important part in helping you to burn fat," says Taub-Dix. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition recommends that adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
Limit empty calories like alcohol
If you are really looking to manage your weight, you need to watch the booze. "That glass of wine or beer is just empty calories, which can add up very quickly," says Susie. "And alcohol can lower your inhibitions to perhaps make some not-so-great food choices. Again, excess calories can lead to weight gain."
"Hydration is always important, especially during the summer months and while you are trying to manage your weight," says Susie. "Note that sometimes thirst can be mistaken as hunger!"
Next up: How to Lose Lower Belly Fat
Caroline Susie, RDN, LD, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table