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9 Eating Habits for Belly Fat Loss at Any Age

Pick one of these proven weight loss practices and do it on the reg.

It doesn't matter if you are 27 or 72, adopting certain eating habits can help you lose weight and, in the process, trim abdominal fat at any age. The critical word in that statement is "habits." When you do something habitually, you make that behavior part of your normal routine.

The best way to reliably lose weight is to adopt some important daily eating habits, which can be even easier than learning guitar because eating is something you have to do several times a day. The motivation to eat is automatic – you're hungry! – now all it takes is the knowledge (and discipline) to eat right for weight loss. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss Eating Habits to Lose Abdominal Fat As You Age, Say Dietitians.

Start your day with breakfast.

dont skip breakfast

A well-balanced breakfast eaten every morning forms the foundation of your eating habits for the rest of the day, says registered dietitian nutritionist Kim Rose, RDN, CDE, a certified diabetes care and education specialist. Even though recent studies have called into question the long-held belief that breakfast eaters tend to be leaner than breakfast-skippers, many dietitians still believe a breakfast of protein, healthy fat, and fiber is a gold-standard habit to adopt for good health and belly fat loss. Why?

One reason is that it delivers slow-burning energy throughout the morning and keeps us from eating doughnuts at 10 o'clock breaktime.

"If you eat a substantial breakfast, you'll modify your calorie intake the rest of the day," says Rose. Some studies demonstrate that people who eat sizeable breakfasts consume fewer calories at dinnertime, feel less hungry, and improve their insulin sensitivity. Since more carbs tend to be eaten at breakfast than any other time of day, it may help you to review the 22 Best Carbs to Shrink Belly Fat.

Start a food journal.

Woman writing in food journal with egg toast carrots coffee on table

Make a habit of journaling what you eat to lose belly fat as you age. It's a classic weight-loss tool endorsed by thousands of dietitians and backed by science. Daily "dietary self-monitoring," that is, recording all foods and beverages consumed as well as portion size and preparation method "is consistently related to successful short- and long-term weight loss," write the authors of a 2019 study in the journal Obesity.

In their small study, participants who recorded three meals a day and took about 15 minutes daily to do so lost at least 5% of their body weight by the end of month 6 of the program.

Carry a water bottle.

holding reusable water bottle

The best way to cut down on calories and start losing belly fat is by eliminating the empty calories from sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). You don't need a study to convince you, but here's one: a Physiology & Behavior study found that each sugary beverage consumed contributed an average of 147 additional calories to the participants' daily total energy intake.

The simple solution to cutting SSB calories is drinking water instead. And the best move to make is sipping from a tumbler of water all day long, whenever you're thirsty. "Wherever you are, your water bottle should be," says medical board nutritionist Ilana Muhlstein, RDN, author of You Can Drop It! How I Dropped 100 Pounds Enjoying Carbs, Cocktails & Chocolate—and You Can Too! She recommends making a habit of downing two glasses of water as soon as you wake and another two before each meal.

Use smaller plates.

plate properly

Get in the habit of tricking your brain into feeling satisfied with fewer calories. "Often we eat with our eyes and many people I work with feel they are still part of the 'clean plate club,' meaning they have to mop up every last crumb of food on their plate before finishing," says medical board member and registered dietitian Molly Hembree, MS, RD, a plant-based nutrition expert. "You can get ahead of this by using smaller size plates and bowls, sticking with lunch-size plates that are just 9-inch diameter and bowls that hold about the same amount of food as a mug would. This can help greatly with portion control."

Slow down digestion

fiber supplements

Eating certain types of food can slow digestion, which keeps you feeling full and satisfied so hunger is delayed. And you end up consuming fewer calories as a result. The best way to slow things down in the digestion department is to make a habit of eating foods rich in a certain type of plant fiber called soluble fiber. Soluble fiber, as the name suggests, dissolves in water. It forms a thick, sticky gel that slows digestion.

Good sources of soluble fiber are beans, oats, peas, pears, apples, carrots, barley, flaxseed, and psyllium. A study in the journal Obesity found that consuming soluble fiber regularly reduces the accumulation of visceral (deep) belly fat, especially when combined with regular vigorous exercise. The average American adult falls about 15 grams short of the American Heart Association's recommendation of 30 grams a day of dietary fiber and suggests that increasing consumption to 25 or more grams daily would help you lose belly fat as you age.

Try intermittent fasting.

intermittent fasting

University of Illinois Chicago researchers say intermittent fasting is an effective way to lose significant weight as well as help people improve their metabolic health. A report in Annual Reviews that analyzed 25 studies found that the 5:2 diet (where two days of the week are fasting days) and alternate-day fasting (where you are allowed one meal of 500 calories on fasting days) both resulted in weight loss of up to 8% of body weight over eight weeks. Those two fasting diets also helped participants maintain an average 7% weight loss for a year.

"[Fasting is] definitely effective for weight loss and it's gained popularity because there are no special foods or apps necessary," said study author Krista Varady, professor of nutrition at UIC College of Applied Health Sciences in a news release.

Related: One Surprising Side Effect of Intermittent Fasting, New Study Says

Drink less to eat less

Saying no to more alcohol

If you're an impulsive eater, a study in the journal Appetite suggests that you might want to make a habit of stopping drinking after a glass of wine (or stopping drinking altogether). Here's why: In the study, 283 overweight low to moderate alcohol drinkers went through a program to curb their alcohol consumption. At the end of treatment, researchers found that reduced drinking did not impact weight loss. However, in those participants who were impulsive eaters, less alcohol correlated with less impulsive snacking and, subsequently, greater weight loss.

The researchers say their findings suggest that highly impulsive people may be at risk for overeating during and after drinking sessions. If that sounds like you, get in the habit of drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage, and be mindful of your inclination to order pizza and wings after you've had a few.

Add grapefruit to your grocery list.

red ruby grapefruit

If you don't have grapefruit on your weekly grocery list, think about adding it to your shopping cart if you're looking to lose belly fat. That's what happened in a 12-week pilot study at the Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic, according to a report in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

It was a small study, but when 91 obese patients were placed in randomized groups, the group that ate a half a grapefruit before each meal three times a day lost 3.6 pounds, while those who drank grapefruit juice three times a day lost 3.3 pounds, significantly more weight than the placebo group. And many of the grapefruit eaters lost more than 10 pounds! The researchers couldn't explain the reason for the weight loss, but they said it was reasonable to include grapefruit in your diet if you're trying to lose weight. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that nothing tastes good after you've had grapefruit! Anyway, here are some other Ways Eating Fruit Can Help You Lose Weight.

Eat with intention.

Woman eating a salad

Often we eat convenient foods that don't excite us, says Hembree. "Think about grabbing the same dull crackers as a snack, having the same peanut butter sandwich each day at lunch, or eating lukewarm French fries from a fast-food joint. By instead eating foods that hit the spot on taste and make you feel good, we can make the most out of each bite and this can ward off munching in excess on something boring just to appease hunger cravings."

Jeff Csatari
Jeff Csatari, a contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, is responsible for editing Galvanized Media books and magazines and for advising journalism students through the Zinczenko New Media Center at Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA. Read more about Jeff