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Abdominal Fat Shrinking Secrets That Really Work

Get rid of belly fat with these science-backed methods.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Abdominal fat—also known as visceral fat —is fat stored within the abdominal cavity, under the muscle. Surrounding vital organs such as the liver and intestines, abdominal fat is considered more dangerous than the fat stored in other parts of the body, as it's linked to dangerous health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. If you want to get rid of belly fat, here are five ways that actually work. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Exercise—Even Just a Small Amount

woman jogging in the city by water

You don't need to work out like an Olympic athlete to get rid of abdominal fat—one study showed just 80 minutes of exercise a week helped prevent weight gain and stopped visceral fat from returning. "What we found was that those who continued exercising, despite modest weight regains, regained zero percent visceral fat a year after they lost the weight," says Gary Hunter, Ph.D. "But those who stopped exercising, and those who weren't put on any exercise regimen at all, averaged about a 33 percent increase in visceral fat. Because other studies have reported that much longer training durations of 60 minutes a day are necessary to prevent weight regain, it's not too surprising that weight regain was not totally prevented in this study. It's encouraging, however, that this relatively small amount of exercise was sufficient to prevent visceral fat gain."


Try a Low-Carb Diet

happy woman eating a healthy salad

Research shows that following a low-carbohydrate diet can lead to reduction in belly fat—although this may be due to overall weight loss. "Low-carb nutrition lowers insulin, improves metabolic syndrome, and can put type 2 diabetes in remission," says Bret Scher, MD. "It can also help people lose belly fat. In 2019, researchers from Virta health published a two-year study on the keto diet and reported a 15% reduction in abdominal fat. Other studies show a low-carb diet leads to greater loss of abdominal fat than a low-fat diet, although they also showed greater overall weight loss with low carb, so it isn't clear that low carb will always be superior to low fat for targeting abdominal fat."

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Meditation and Mindfulness

happy woman doing yoga pose in bright living room

Meditation may not seem like the most obvious solution to belly fat, but research shows there is a link between mindfulness and keeping a healthy body weight. "The vast majority of these people are not meditating—it's just everyday mindfulness and everyday awareness of thoughts, emotions and physical sensations," says Eric Loucks, assistant professor of epidemiology at Brown University. "People who are more aware seem to either be eating less or being more physically active."

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Avoid Alcohol

drinking alcohol

It's called a "beer belly" for a reason—even moderate drinking can lead to abdominal fat. "Too many of any kind of calories, whether they're from alcohol or sugary foods or just from eating too much food, can increase belly fat," Daniel Allan, MD. "Since an average beer can be more than 150 calories, it doesn't take long for the calories (and the belly) to build. Beer can also interfere with fat burn, because your liver will preferentially burn alcohol instead of fat when it is consumed."

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Life Weights, Burn Belly Fat

fit woman exercising at home with weights

Weight training is a highly effective way to not just burn belly fat, but build valuable muscle mass. "We did a two-year intervention study in premenopausal women who did only twice weekly weight training," says Kathryn Schmitz, professor at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. "We didn't ask them to do any aerobic activity or to make any dietary changes. We found that twice weekly weight training substantively prevented increases in belly fat in women who got the intervention versus those who did not."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan