Stubborn belly fat is something most of us deal with, and a fast solution to getting rid of it would be ideal. Unfortunately, there’s no safe, quick fix to losing weight just in our bellies. That’s because our bodies aren’t able to simply spot reduce, which means doing a ton of crunches every day won’t necessarily yield the results you’re looking for in your midsection.
Although there’s no quick way to achieve spot reduction, both diet and exercise play a vital role in overall weight loss, which is the best way to get rid of belly fat. We had a few experts weigh in on their best tips for overall weight loss, thereby getting rid of the excess weight in our midsections.
You Can Eat Carbs
Good news! You can eat carbs and still lose belly fat. The types of carbs you consume are what’s important. Refined, white-flour carbs like certain types of breads, pastas, and baked goods are processed quickly in our bodies as sugar. When there’s too much sugar in our bodies, “we store the remaining unused sugar as fat in the body . . . particularly around the belly,” Sunny Brigham, MS, CNS, told POPSUGAR. Replacing processed refined, white carbs with whole-grain carbs makes a difference because “we’re altering the amount of sugar in the body, ultimately reducing belly fat,” Brigham said.
Eat Whole Foods
Whole foods are the types of food that come from the earth, like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and beans. “Eating real foods from nature, instead of fake foods found in packages or boxes, is one of the best (and easiest) things you can do for yourself and your loved ones,” said Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., and founder of Ancient Nutrition, on his website. Whole foods are unprocessed and not exposed to chemicals and preservatives, unlike boxed and processed items that can be found at most grocery stores. Whole foods also tend to contain superior health benefits. Eating real foods will “not only get rid of the unwanted visceral fat, but also give your body the vital nutrients it needs to function properly,” Dr. Axe said.
Fiber can be found in several types of foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Fiber “not only helps with appetite control, stabilizes blood sugars, and improves gastrointestinal health, it also feeds the good bacteria in our microbiome,” Megan Ostler, registered dietitian for iFit, told POPSUGAR. Feeding the good bacteria in our bodies can help us lose weight, while processed food with little to no nutritional value may make us gain weight. Therefore, Ostler has her clients focus on consuming adequate whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Dr. Axe recommends upping “your soluble fiber, found in oats, barley, peas, carrots, beans, apples, citrus fruits, and psyllium. Soluble fiber will attach to cholesterol particles and remove them from your digestive system, thus lowering your risk of heart disease as well as help you lose fat.”
Cut the Sugar
The amount of sugar we consume in a day is rather baffling, but that’s why checking labels is so important. Sugar can be lurking in everything from crackers and salsa to bread and drinks. By cutting back on our sugar consumption, “we have less sugar in the body leading to less stored as fat,” Brigham said.
“You especially want to avoid added sugar when you trying to reduce belly fat — even hidden sources of sugar like sweetened dairy, juices, or packaged snacks made with grains,” Dr. Axe wrote.
Exercise is a great tool to use along with eating a healthy diet. Ensuring you move throughout the day is important when it comes to shedding belly fat. Find something you enjoy doing, whether it’s walking, running, hiking, or yoga. You can also try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and weight training, which may help you reach your goal of losing belly fat faster.
Emily Paskins, BS, NASM, CPT, iFit trainer, recommends “building muscle in a way that can accentuate your waist.” She suggests planks and side planks to focus on the transverse abdominis (deep front and side muscles) to strengthen and stabilize your core and pelvis. She also encourages doing lat pulldowns and lat pull-throughs for the latissimus dorsi because this muscle “begins at the midback and reaches up to your upper arm; it can create an hourglass optical effect when developed properly.” She also notes the deltoids in your upper arms and shoulders (“T” raises and military press) because those muscles “will help to create a well-rounded, balanced shape as you develop your lats.” Lastly, she recommends leg presses and deadlifts to work the glutes to “help to balance the lower half of [an] ‘hourglass shape.'”