How to Remove the "Hidden Fat" in Your Belly
Is your belly fat bothering you? While excess fat of any kind is unhealthy, visceral fat is particularly dangerous. "Abdominal obesity not only increases your risk for a first heart attack or stroke, but also the risk for recurrent events after the first misfortune," says Dr. Hanieh Mohammadi of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. "Maintaining a healthy waist circumference is important for preventing future heart attacks and strokes regardless of how many drugs you may be taking or how healthy your blood tests are." Here are five scientifically-backed ways to get rid of belly fat. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Exercise is a key factor in helping blast belly fat. "Health experts say consistent, moderate exercise by itself appears to help the body rid itself of vast amounts of deep abdominal fat — even when your scale doesn't register a loss," says CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "If you're at a good weight, but still have trouble losing that belly fat, make sure you're doing the right kind of exercise. While sit-ups only tighten abdominal muscles, studies show strength training can reduce belly fat. The American College of Sports Medicine agrees — the best way to achieve a "six pack" of abs is to focus more on lowering total body fat through aerobic exercise and diet. ACSM also says ab exercises are most effective when tailored to your individual needs. So, consult a trainer who can help you design the best program for you to lose the belly fat."
Overhaul Your Diet
Eating a diet rich in healthy, nutritious whole foods is important for losing belly fat. "Nutrition plays a vital role in reducing abdominal fat," says Bret Scher, MD. "Many diets that promote weight loss, including vegan diets and chronic caloric restriction, can help people lose belly fat. However, the key is finding a sustainable diet that provides adequate nutrition and still helps you lose belly fat. For many, a low-carb diet may be an effective option, and adding intermittent fasting is also promising."
Don't Treat Stress With Food
Stress-eating may make belly fat worse, experts say. "It's not just a formula of calories in and calories out. What we eat and how much may determine our overall weight, but stress influences where that fat actually gets deposited on our body," says Elissa Epel, PhD. "We know that excessive exposure to cortisol can increase belly fat. So it's logical that stress reduction should minimize it."
Try Strength Training
Studies show that people who strength train have less belly fat, even if they don't lose weight from the exercise. "Stick with basic moves that work the major muscle groups—shoulders, chest, back, abs, butt, legs, and arms," says Sherri MacMillan, owner of Northwest Personal Training in Portland, Oregon. "As you get stronger, continue to increase your weight load to counter gradual muscle loss."
Research from the Mayo Clinic shows eating breakfast is linked to a decrease in belly fat. "For reasons that we don't quite understand yet, eating breakfast seems to be a marker of, No. 1, less likelihood of having gained weight recently, and, No. 2, … a smaller belly circumference and less visceral fat," says cardiologist Dr. Virend Somers. "Those who ate breakfast very frequently put on less than 3 pounds in the past year. Those who ate breakfast maybe one to four times a week put on about 5 pounds. The ones who didn't eat breakfast at all put on about 8 pounds in the year prior to them seeing us."