18 Effective Tips to Lose Belly Fat, Supported by Science

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An excessive amount of belly fat can increase the risk of several chronic health conditions.

One specific kind of abdominal fat, known as visceral fat, significantly increases the risk for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, among others. Study 1

Many health organizations apply the Body Mass Index (BMI) as a tool to classify weight and assess the risk of metabolic conditions. However, BMI, which is based solely on height and weight, neglects other important aspects like body composition and visceral fat. Study 1

Even though it’s tough to lose fat from this particular area, there are several actions you can take if your objective is to reduce excess abdominal fat. Such strategies involve limiting alcohol consumption, eating more protein, and possibly start weight-lifting exercises.

Here are 18 effective tips to lose belly fat, supported by science:

1. Consume a good amount of soluble fiber

Soluble fiber has the ability to absorb water and form a gel-like substance, which helps in slowing down the progression of food through your digestive system.

Research indicates that this type of fiber can contribute to weight loss by helping you feel full, which can naturally lead to eating less. Study 1, Study 2

Additionally, soluble fiber has been shown to potentially help in decreasing belly fat.

An older observational study with over 1,100 adults established that for each 10g (grams) increment in soluble fiber consumed, the gain in belly fat reduced by 3.7% over a span of 5 years.

Amazing sources of soluble fiber include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • legumes
  • oats
  • barley

2. Avoid foods that contain trans fats

Trans fats are formed through a process of adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats, such as soybean oil.

They used to be common in certain margarines and spreads, and frequently added to processed foods, but most manufacturers have now stopped their use. However, it’s easiest to avoid them by making your meals at home. No need to skip the fries, just use your air fryer.

Trans fats have been associated with a range of health issues, including inflammation, heart disease, insulin resistance, and an increase in abdominal fat, according to observational and animal studies. Study 1, Study 2, Study 3

A 6 year long study found that monkeys consuming a diet high in trans fats experienced a 33% increase in abdominal fat compared to those on a diet rich in monounsaturated fats.

To help in reducing belly fat, it’s advisable to carefully read ingredient labels and avoid products containing trans fats, which are often identified as partially hydrogenated fats.

3. Moderate your alcohol intake

While moderate alcohol consumption may offer certain health benefits, over drinking can be harmful to your health.

Research indicates that excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to an increase in belly fat.

Several observational studies have connected heavy drinking with a significant increased risk of accumulating excess fat around the waist. Study 1, Study 2

Reducing your alcohol consumption may help in reducing your waistline. There is no need to quit drinking altogether, but moderating your daily consumption can prove beneficial.

A study involving over 2,000 participants found that individuals who consumed alcohol daily, but averaged less than one drink per day, had less belly fat than those who drank less frequently but had more alcohol when they did drink.

As per the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s suggested that men limit their alcohol intake to two or fewer drinks per day, and for women, the limit should be one drink or fewer per day.

4. Eat a high protein diet

Protein is a vital nutrient when it comes to managing your weight.

Consuming a high-protein diet boosts the release of the satiety hormone peptide YY, which decreases appetite and encourages a feeling of fullness.

Additionally, protein helps increase your metabolic rate and supports the preservation of muscle mass during weight loss. Study 1, Study 2, Study 3

Numerous observational studies have demonstrated that individuals who consume more protein tend to carry less belly fat compared to those who maintain a lower-protein diet. Study 1, Study 2, Study 3

Ensure that you include a good source of protein in every meal, such as:

  • meat
  • fish
  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • whey protein
  • beans

5. Reduce your stress levels

Stress can contribute to the increase of belly fat by stimulating the adrenal glands to generate cortisol, commonly referred to as the stress hormone.

Studies have found that elevated levels of cortisol can increase appetite and promote storage of fat in the abdominal region. Study 1, Study 2

Furthermore, women with larger waists have been observed to produce more cortisol in stressful situations, which in turn, could add to theincrease of fat around the waist. Study 1

To help reduce belly fat, it’s recommended to participate in stress-relieving activities. Techniques like yoga or meditation can be beneficial.

6. Don’t eat a lot of sugary foods

Sugar often contains fructose, which when consumed excessively, is associated with a number of chronic diseases.

Such conditions include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver disease. Study 1, Study 2, Study 3

Observational studies have shown a correlation between a high intake of sugar and an increase in belly fat. Study 1, Study 2

It’s crucial to understand that not just refined sugar, but even natural sugars, like pure honey, can contribute to belly fat if consumed in large quantities. Therefore, they should be used in moderation.

7. Do aerobic exercise (cardio)

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is an effective method to improve your health and burn calories.

Research indicates that it can be a valuable form of exercise to decrease belly fat, although it’s unclear whether moderate or high-intensity exercise is more beneficial. Study 1, Study 2, Study 3

Nonetheless, the frequency and length of your exercise program can also be a major factor.

One study observed that postmenopausal women who performed aerobic exercise for 300 minutes per week lost more fat overall compared to those who exercised for only 150 minutes per week.

However, the study also highlighted that the changes in visceral belly fat were not very different between the two groups.

8. Cut back on carbs — especially refined carbs

Cutting down on your carbohydrate intake can be highly beneficial for losing fat, including belly fat.

In fact, low-carb diets have been shown to contribute to the loss of abdominal fat in individuals who are overweight, those at risk for type 2 diabetes, and those suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Study 1, Study 2, Study 3

You don’t need to follow a strictly low-carb diet. Some studies suggest that replacing refined carbohydrates with unprocessed starchy carbohydrates may improve metabolic health and decrease belly fat. Study 1, Study 2

In the Framingham Heart Study, participants who consumed the most whole grains were 17% less likely to possess excess abdominal fat compared to those who ate diets high in refined grains.

9. Perform strength training (lift weights)

Resistance training, often referred to as weightlifting or strength training, is essential for maintaining and increasing muscle mass.

Research involving individuals with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver disease suggests that resistance training might also be effective in reducing belly fat. Study 1, Study 2

In fact, one study with overweight teenagers showed that a training program combining strength training and aerobic exercise resulted in the most significant reduction in visceral fat.

If you plan to start weightlifting, it’s advisable to consult with a doctor beforehand and seek guidance from a certified personal trainer.

10. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages

Sugar-sweetened beverages are rich in added sugars like fructose, which can lead to an increase in belly fat.

A study of people with type 2 diabetes found that consuming at least one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages per week was linked to an increase in belly fat compared to those consuming less than one serving per week.

Furthermore, as your brain doesn’t process liquid calories the same way it does solid ones, you’re likely to consume excess calories subsequently and store them as fat. Study 1, Study 2

To decrease belly fat, it’s advisable to reduce your consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, including:

  • soda
  • fruit punch
  • sweetened tea
  • alcoholic mixers containing sugar

11. Get plenty of restful sleep

Sleep plays a crucial role in numerous aspects of your health, including weight management.

Research indicates that a lack of sufficient sleep may be associated with a higher risk of obesity and an increase in belly fat for certain individuals. Study 1, Study 2, Study 3, Study 4

A 16-year old study involving over 68,000 women discovered that those who slept less than 5 hours per night were significantly more prone to weight gain compared to those who slept 7 hours or more per night.

Sleep apnea, a condition characterized by intermittent cessation of breathing during sleep, has also been linked to excessive visceral fat. Study 1

Apart from the fact that you need to sleep for at least 7 hours per night, it’s equally important to focus on the quality of your sleep.

If you believe you might have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, it would be advisable to consult a doctor to discuss potential treatment options.

12. Track your food intake and exercise

There are numerous strategies to help in weight and belly fat loss, but the key lies in consuming fewer calories than what your body requires to maintain its current weight.

Maintaining a food journal or using an online food tracker or application can help you keep tabs on your calorie consumption. This method has been proven to be effective for weight loss. Study 1, Study 2

Additionally, these food tracking tools can provide insights into your consumption of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and micronutrients. Many of them also offer the feature of logging your exercise and physical activities.

There are several free applications or websites available where you can monitor your nutrient and calorie consumption.

13. Eat fatty fish every week

Fatty fish can be a valuable component of a well-rounded diet.

These fish are rich in premium protein and omega-3 fats, which have been linked to protection against chronic illnesses. Study 1, Study 2

Some research also implies that these omega-3 fats might assist in reducing visceral fat.

Research on adults and children with fatty liver disease has demonstrated that omega-3 supplements can significantly decrease liver and abdominal fat. Study 1, Study 2, Study 3

Strive to add 2–3 servings of fatty fish into your weekly meals. Good options include:

  • salmon
  • herring
  • sardines
  • mackerel
  • anchovies

For those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, or for those who don’t regularly eat fish, plant-based omega-3 supplements derived from sources like algae are also accessible. Study 1

14. Limit consumption of fruit juice

While fruit juice does provide essential vitamins and minerals, its sugar content is often comparable to that of soda and other sugar sweetened drinks.

For instance, an 8-ounce (248-milliliter) serving of unsweetened apple juice comprises 24g (grams) of sugar, more than half of which is fructose.

Studies suggest that consuming high amounts of fruit juice might lead to weight gain, primarily due to the high calorie content it provides, rather than the fructose it contains.

To help minimize excess belly fat, it’s advisable to regulate your fruit juice intake and opt for beverages with less sugar, such as water, unsweetened iced tea, or sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime.

15. Eat probiotic foods or take a probiotic supplement

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are present in certain foods and supplements. They can provide several health benefits, such as improving gut health and boosting immune function.

It’s been discovered that various types of bacteria contribute to weight management and maintaining the correct balance can help with weight reduction, including belly fat loss.

Certain members of the Lactobacillus family, including Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus amylovorus, and Lactobacillus gasseri, have been shown to help reduce belly fat. Study 1, Study 2, Study 3

However, while probiotics may assist in weight loss, more research is needed. Since some probiotics are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, it’s important to consult with a doctor before incorporating probiotics or other supplements into your regimen.

16. Consider intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting has gained considerable popularity as a weight loss strategy.

This eating approach alternates between eating periods and fasting periods. Study 1

One popular method is to fast for 24 hours once or twice per week, while another method involves daily fasting for 16 hours and fitting all your meals within an 8-hour window.

A study revealed that combining intermittent fasting with protein pacing – the practice of evenly spacing nutrient-dense meals throughout the day – resulted in more significant reductions in body weight, total fat, and visceral fat compared to simple calorie restriction.

However, earlier research suggested that intermittent fasting might impact blood sugar control negatively in women, but not in men.

Even though modified intermittent fasting methods seem to be better choices, you should stop fasting immediately if you experience any negative effects.

Additionally, you should consult a doctor before trying intermittent fasting or making other significant changes to your diet.

17. Drink green tea

Green tea is a remarkably healthful drink.

It is rich in caffeine and the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), both of which are known to boost metabolism. Study 1, Study 2

EGCG is a type of catechin, which several studies have suggested could help in losing belly fat. This effect may be amplified when the consumption of green tea is paired with exercise. Study 1, Study 2, Study 3

Interestingly, a review concluded that green tea could increase weight loss, particularly when taken in doses less than 500 milligrams per day for a period of 12 weeks.

Another review indicated that habitual consumption of green tea could be beneficial in reducing body weight and waist size (74).

Nevertheless, further high-quality research is required.

18. Change your lifestyle and combine different methods

Simply implementing one of the strategies from this list may not have a significant impact on its own.

For optimal outcomes, it may be more effective to try a combination of different approaches from this list.

Interestingly, many of these methods are typically connected with a well-balanced diet and a generally healthy lifestyle.

Thus, a long-term lifestyle change is the ultimate solution to losing belly fat while making sure it stays off.

When you cultivate healthy habits, maintain an active lifestyle, and limit the consumption of ultra-processed foods, fat loss usually follows as a natural consequence. Study 1


There’s no magic formula for losing belly fat.

Weight reduction always demands a certain amount of effort, dedication, and persistence.

Implementing some or all of the methods and lifestyle goals mentioned in this article could help you in reducing belly fat and enhancing your overall health.

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