How to lose belly fat (Simple, Proven and backed by Science)

how to lose belly fat

The fat gut, beer belly, spare tire, the middle-aged spread.

Whatever you call it, you need to get rid of it, ASAP. Why? Your belly fat is killing you.

You have this insidious fat inside your stomach, slowly releasing toxic chemicals into your organs. 

Over time, these toxic chemicals will harm your organs, reducing your quality of life and maybe even causing death.

Obesity can lead to heart diseases and cancers—two of the world’s leading causes of death.

[source: The Medical Risks of Obesity]

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 647,547 deaths from heart disease and 599,108 deaths from cancer in the U.S. alone in 2017.

[source: Leading Causes of Death]

Here’s a graph in 2017 from Our World in Data, showing how much obesity has the most impact on death.

cause of death graph in 2017
Numbers of death causes graph 2017

It’s irrefutable that obesity kills. Your belly fat is a good indicator of your current health. The bigger your gut, the higher your risk of deadly diseases.

Melting off your belly fat will help you live a long and happy life. Easier said than done, right? I know how hard it is to lose belly fat because…

I myself had a problem getting rid of my pot-belly, but I persevered, learned, took action, and finally, I see my abs. You can do it too!

The formula for losing weight is simple but it’s not easy. But, if you take action, I guarantee you will get there. This is how to lose belly fat naturally and as fast as humanly possible.

How to lose belly fat fast

woman pinching belly fat before and after

If you are one of those people that are built to burn fat all day long and put on muscle just by touching a dumbbell (Mesomorph), you probably won’t have a hard time losing your big gut.

[source: What is a mesomorph?]

Now, if you are not a Meso, like me, this does not mean you are doomed to look, how shall I put it? Less appealing.

No matter what your genes tell you, you can have your six-pack abs. So, how do you lose belly fat if you are not a Mesomorph type?

You have to work! And I mean you put in the hours for cardio and resistance training. Eat clean, track everything, and be motivated.

Ways to lose belly fat

The following are ways to lose belly fat:

  1. Eat a lot and lose fat
  2. Diet to lose belly fat
  3. Avoid these foods to lose belly fat
  4. Avoid the worst drinks for your body
  5. Gain muscle to lose belly fat
  6. Cardio to lose belly fat
  7. Determine the optimal fat burning zone (old and new way)
  8. Count calories

1. Eat a lot and lose fat

It sounds counter-intuitive when dieting is about controlling what you eat, but let me explain.

Research suggests that eating three meals with two snacks a day is related to lowering body mass index and maintenance of weight loss.

The study found that normal-weight and weight maintainers had a better chance of controlling their weight by eating snacks in between meals.

Have you ever been hungry that you could eat a horse? Probably not a horse but a whole horse’s leg. Eating snacks can stave off hunger and decrease the chance of overeating.

Overweight people tend to overeat in a single meal. And the process keeps repeating until obesity hits them in the gut.

[source: Eating frequency is higher in weight loss maintainers and normal weight individuals as compared to overweight individuals]

2. Diet to lose belly fat

Start eating protein-rich food, green leafy vegetables, and fruits. That’s nothing new, but it is the natural way to lose weight and melt the belly fat.

The following are my favorite types of protein, super vegetables, and fruits rich in antioxidants.

Proteins

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Pork

Anything really, as long as they are lean cuts. Limit your intake of fats if possible. If you have to eat the fat, make sure you don’t overindulge and go over your daily calorie limit. The amount of saturated fat in specific meat cuts can negatively impact your health.

Research suggests that after a high protein meal resulted in more significant fat loss, weight loss, and preservation of lean muscle mass.

[source: The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance]

Super Vegetables

  • Watercress
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Chard
  • Beet green
  • Spinach
  • Chicory
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Parsley

[source: Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables: A Nutrient Density Approach]

Fruits high in antioxidants

  • Strawberry
  • Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Pomegranate

[source: The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide]

The following are foods to help lose belly fat and should be included in your shopping list:

  1. Avocado
  2. Coffee
  3. Green tea
  4. Black tea
  5. Eggs
  6. Matcha tea
  7. Salmon
  8. Nuts
  9. Yogurt
  10. Green leafy vegetables
  11. Red hot chili peppers

To know more about these fat-burning superfoods click on the links below.

Related articles

3. Avoid these foods to lose belly fat

woman eating ham roll in the gym

Food that you should not consume to reduce your stomach:

  • Sugar
  • White rice
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Frozen pizza 
  • Muesli bar
  • Bread
  • Cake
  • Pastry
  • Donut

You might be surprised at some of the items on the list. Let’s go over them.

Cereals have been deemed healthy for a long while now: marketers made sure of that. Look at the nutritional information, mainly how much sugar it contains.

Have a look at the supposedly healthy Special K: for every 100 grams of serving; it contains 12 grams of sugar. If you are female and you eat 200 grams of serving, your daily sugar intake is already at maximum.

Like cereals, low-fat yogurt, muesli bars, and pizza contain a significant amount of sugar.

Sugar is your enemy if you want to get lean and healthy; it will make you pack on weight in a short amount of time. It offers no beneficial nutrients but carries a lot of calories.

“…the potential for overconsumption of sugars in form of sugary foods and drinks is substantial…”

[source: Controversies about sugars: results from systematic reviews and meta-analyses on obesity, cardiometabolic disease and diabetes]

4. Avoid the worst drinks for your body

I know people who try to lose weight by eating less but drinks a whole 500 ml of Coke. 

My brother does this with a special large cup he bought to fit 750 ml worth of soda; regular cups just don’t cut it.

If you are like my brother, STOP! you are literally poisoning your body.

woman saying stop

According to the American Heart Association, the recommended sugar daily intake for a healthy adult male is 36 grams or 9 teaspoons. For a healthy adult female, it is 25 grams or 6 teaspoons. 

The amount of sugar contained in 330 ml of Coca Cola is 35 grams. That is your recommended daily sugar intake if you are an adult male. For an adult female, it is 1.5 times the average.

Do your body a favor and stop drinking these sweetened drinks:

  • Coffee with creams from Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, etc
  • Tea with creams
  • Mocha
  • Chocolate drinks
  • Shakes
  • Sodas
  • Smoothies
  • Energy drinks
  • Some fruit juices

Not only do these sugar drinks contain a significant amount of calories, but they can also increase your resistance to insulin, increasing your risk of diabetes.

“This study supports the importance of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in the diabetes epidemic.”

[source: Diet Soda and Sugar-Sweetened Soda Consumption in Relation to Incident Diabetes in the Northern Manhattan Study]

In addition to sugary drinks, you should also avoid consuming alcohol if you are trying to lose your pot-belly. They are OK in moderation, but more than the average can cause a whole slew of diseases according to NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information).

However, drinking one or two whiskeys on ice won’t affect you much. Once you start mixing alcohol with sugar, that is when your calories skyrocket.

The most sugar-laden mixed drinks to avoid at all cost are bourbon and Coke, vodka and juice, Redbull and vodka.

5. Gain muscle to lose belly fat

man flexing biceps

You can build muscle by lifting weights. Strength exercises will burn fat for 24 to 48 hours after your workout.

The International Journal of Exercise Science 2018 study found the participants increased their Basal Metabolic Rate after a bout of resistance exercises.

A basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories you burn doing nothing.

Also, the more muscles you have, the more efficient your body becomes in burning off fat. In general, people with more muscle mass than fat have a high BMR.

In contrast, people with more fat than muscle mass have low resting metabolism.

6. Cardio to lose belly fat

man running on treadmill

I know, cardio is tedious and something most people prefer to skip.

But, if you want to maximize fat loss and finally see your abs in the quickest time possible, include cardio into your regimen.

It doesn’t have to be an intense exercise, but enough to raise your heart rate to the optimum fat burning rate.

Related articles:

7. Determine the optimal fat burning zone (old and new way)

To determine your optimum heart rate to ensure fat burning, all you have to do is subtract your age from 220. What you get is your maximum heart rate. 

To get the optimum fat burning heart rate, you need to take 70% from your maximum heart rate.

For example, I am 40 years old. I need to take away 40 from 220, giving me a 180 maximum heart rate. 70% of 180 gives me my fat burning heart rate zone, which is 126.

0.7(220 – 40) = 126 BPM 

After many years of using the old ways to measure the optimal fat-burning zone, NCBI has found that as we grow older, our heart rate slows down.

Thus they have introduced a new way to measure the optimal zone. The new, safer formula to calculate your MHR is 207 – (0.7 x age).

To determine the best heart rate for the fat-burning zone, NCBI has found between 61% to 80% of your MHR is an excellent base for optimal fat loss.

You can use our calculators by clicking on the links below to determine your maximum heart rate and your ideal fat burning zone heart rate:

8. Count calories

Counting calories can be tiresome, tedious, and plain boring. However, if you want to be spot on with your diet, you need to learn how to do this crucial but dull part of losing weight.

When you count calories, you know exactly how much you are putting into your body. Counting calories lets you know if you are eating too much or too little for the day.

There are many calorie counting apps available, both free and paid. I have been using My Fitness Pal for years, and it’s helped me keep a tab on what I eat. I’m still on the free version. If you only want to count calories, then the free version of My Fitness Pal does an excellent job.

There is also the question of calorie quality. Don’t think that you can eat whatever you want as long as you are in a calorie deficit for the day. If you are not giving your body the nutrients it deserves, you’ll likely develop health problems.

Moreover, studies have shown that increasing fruit and vegetable intake reduces the risk of certain cancers. Therefore, the quality of the calories you put into your body determines your health.

[source: Calories]

How to lose belly fat naturally

woman laying down showing belly asking how to lose belly fat naturally

Everything that we’ve covered so far, are all-natural ways to lose your stomach fat. Exercising, eating the right food are natural ways to lose belly fat.

Don’t even think of getting liposuction or bariatric surgery if you haven’t REALLY taken action by following the above methods.

It can be done. Look, my body is not the best type. I gain fat quickly and it’s hard for me to build muscle mass, but I still lost the dreaded fat belly.

If a 40-year-old man with a gene of a sloth can stop making excuses and just do it, why can’t you? The following are methods on how to lose the belly fat naturally.

Best way to lose belly fat naturally: walking

I know how hard it is to get started after being sedentary for too long. But, nothing will change if you don’t try.

Once you finally start and after many repetitions, it will become a habit. Once it gets ingrained into your daily routine, you’ll soon feel guilty when you miss just one workout session.

For beginners, I recommend walking for your cardio. You can walk anywhere and it’s a less strenuous form of exercise. I consider walking as the best way to lose belly fat.

Put on a good pair of shoes and get out of the house. If you are like my partner who loves to spend, go shopping.

I don’t know how but when I go to the shops with my partner, she can walk around the mall for the entire day without a single complaint. But she whines and complains after 10 minutes of walking to the train station.

man asking how

After a day or two or a week of walking, you should walk briskly, if you aren’t already doing so. Walk to get your heart rate up and try to sustain it for 30 minutes.

Walking is my favorite form of cardio. Friendly on the joints and sustainable in the long term. I can most definitely walk every day.

Need more tips on how to lose belly fat by walking? Follow the link below:

Run for your life (this might save you)

doughnut chasing fat woman

The stomach fat is the most dangerous compared to your arms, thighs, or any other part of your body.

What lies underneath is visceral fat, a type of fat that leaks no-good substances to your internal organs, leading to many diseases.

Getting rid of visceral fat is the same as losing stomach fat. Follow a healthy lifestyle and sweat it out.

Any exercise can help reduce belly fat. In saying that, research shows that high-intensity exercise training does a better job than a low-intensity workout in reducing visceral fat (the bad fat).

[source: Effect of exercise training intensity on abdominal visceral fat and body composition]

So, if you want a faster result, run like your life depends on it.

Running will also double your progress compared to walking. You will lose more calories in 30 minutes when you run.

There is no doubt about it if you want to lose your stomach fat as fast as possible, amp up your cardio. The more calories you lose, the more fat you are burning.

Start slowly to warm up your legs, then increase your pace. If you can sustain the speed for the whole 30 minutes of running, then that is great.

I don’t run anymore. Years of playing basketball have worn my meniscus so badly that I get pain in my left knee after a hard run.

To hit the ground running, click on this link for tips.

Play sports

group of guys playing basketball

If walking and running are boring for you, why don’t you play your favorite sport? Mine was basketball, as mentioned, and I played for years until I tore my left meniscus.

Basketball was fun, and the best way to lose stomach fat for me. And as soon as I stopped, my weight gradually crept up. My problem was, I never exercised and stayed sedentary. I should have kept active or played a different sport.

If you have problems like a worn meniscus that prevents you from playing your favorite sport, you can try swimming and cycling.

Swimming has less impact on your joints compared to running. Cycling doesn’t jolt your knee joints compared to running.

These are all-natural ways to lose stomach fat. Depending on your body and fitness level, following these simple and basic methods will have you seeing chiseled abs in a week.

Lose belly fat without diet

If dieting is not your forte, here is what you can do to lose the spare tire. You can melt the extra calories by exercising.

I myself hate dieting. However, when you have to lose the belly fat after 3 seasons of bulking up, it’s essential.

You see, whenever I bulk up, I tend to put on weight in my stomach. Moreover, my genes won’t let me build muscle efficiently.

Luckily, through research, years of experimentation, I found supplements that help me build muscle and lose belly fat.

What keeps my stomach from growing further is the extra cardio I do after resistance training. And that is the trick, to lose belly fat without diet, you need to do cardio.

Look, you can eat as much as you want, provided you sweat it out later. What I mean is that you have to exercise enough to be in a calorie deficit at the end of the day. Otherwise, you will not lose weight.

My sister lost weight without dieting by doing the above method. All the while, looking after two kids, working a full-time sedentary job, and have the biggest sweet tooth.

I wrote an in-depth article about losing belly fat without dieting, which you can go to by clicking here. Also, find out what my sister did to be successful

Lose belly fat without losing weight

Losing belly fat is hard. Losing belly fat without losing weight is very tricky and almost impossible.

I know that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it is tough.

However, some people can lose fat quickly and put on muscle easily.

If you are one of those people, I am freaking jealous right now.

I, on the other hand, is the opposite. I’m an endomorph. 

Building muscle is hard, and I gain fat quickly. 

There isn’t much you can do if you are like me but to work harder than the rest.

When I say work harder, it does not mean more hours at the gym, heavier weights, or higher reps. No, I mean more mental strength to keep working out and eating healthily for the rest of your life. 

Some people gain fat in the right places (butt), and some people gain fat in the wrong places (belly). Again, genes play a significant role. That’s why you see hot chics and guys with phat butt and a fantastic figure.

Even if you possess a mesomorph body type, you still have to have a good nutrition plan.

You can’t merely eat deep-fried fish and chips, Big Macs every dinner, and beers for tea.

Let’s say that losing belly fat without sacrificing weight is almost impossible.

If you are willing to put in the work, then here’s what you can do.

If you watch sports, the athletes that play them look fit, right?

They eat like a horse, yet they don’t have big belly fat.

Now, why is that?

The big reason is that they sweat out more calories than they eat. The number of calories they burn during training and in games is a staggering amount. 

Factor in the resistance training to build their muscles makes for the best method to lose belly fat.

What they don’t tell you about getting rid of lower stomach fat

Here’s the mind-blowing fact that you should get your mind around. You can’t target the lower or the top of your stomach.

guy thinking it's mindblowing

Yes, you can strengthen the lower abdomen, but when it comes to getting rid of the subcutaneous fat (the fat you can pinch), it will take more than 1,000,000 leg raises. And no, 1,000,001 won’t be enough either.

The only way to get rid of your stomach fat is to bite the bullet and do some cardio, and you can’t do cardio using your lower stomach. Can you? I guess you can, but you know what I mean.

To further explain, you already have abs. The fat covers those abs; hence, you can’t see any lines. Once you get rid of those fat, the more visible your abs become.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the best exercise to lose stomach fat?

    When you ask someone, “what is the best exercise to lose stomach fat,” and they tell you to do more crunches and perform 100 variations of crunches, it’s fair to say. They don’t know what they are talking about. The best exercise to lose stomach fat involves raising your heart rate to your optimum fat burning zone. This is how to lose belly fat naturally.

  • How do you get a flat stomach overnight?

    This question makes me laugh all the time. It’s like wishing to win the lotto. The surest way to achieve something is through hard work, determination, and pure will. It is the same with losing your fat gut. You don’t exercise, fall asleep, and the next day you lose your fat belly. No, losing fat takes time. And you need to do lots of cardio, eat clean, and persevere.

  • Can you lose stomach fat without exercise?

    Yes, you can. I did a ketogenic diet for 3 months and lost body fat doing absolutely nothing. It doesn’t have to be a ketogenic diet. When you eat clean and less than what you take out, you are losing weight and body fat in the process. How you burn fat at rest (BMR), and types of food that ramp up your thermogenesis determines your ability to lose stomach fat without exercise.

  • What foods help burn belly fat?

    The following food helps trigger your thermogenesis and increase BMR. They can be found anywhere in the world. Eat or drink these foods, and you’ll probably never have to exercise to lose your fat belly. “Probably.”
    Foods that help you lose belly fat:
    Coffee – Limit your drink to 1 to 4 cups or 100 to 400 ml a day. This way, you’ll get the benefits without the side effects. This study from NCBI proves that coffee causes thermogenesis.
    Fish – I love fatty fish, and I try to get at least 1 serving once a week. Fish provides Omega 3, which may reduce fat
    Olive oil – Preferably, extra virgin olive oil is the best oil you can ever eat. It contains loads of monounsaturated fat to bolster heart health. The study from NCBI also supports claims it boosts the metabolic rate.
    Chili – This study from NCBI found that chili helps increase metabolic rate and burns 50 calories per day.

More on how to lose belly fat


Nutritionist

Christian Tanobey

Metabolism of a sloth and a body that’s almost impossible to put on muscles motivated me to study weight loss and nutrition. Sharing what I’ve learned and experienced to help you achieve your ideal body.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Get your FREE Keto Recipe Book and $1 Trial Custom Keto Diet Meal Planner