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Abdominal Fat Shrinking Secrets That Actually Work

Want to get rid of that belly fat? Try this.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

If your waist measures over 35 inches as a woman or over 40 inches as a man, you're probably carrying a dangerous amount of abdominal (also known as visceral) fat. "Beer bellies are linked with increased risk for a variety of health problems including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol, erectile dysfunction, fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome and higher mortality," says Daniel Allan, MD. Here are five expert-approved tips to get rid of belly fat, fast. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Exercise To Blast Belly Fat

woman boxing in a gym

No, unfortunately you can't spot-reduce your belly, but whole-body exercise can make a difference. "To burn belly fat, you need 45 to 60 minutes of high-intensity cardiovascular activity (running, playing soccer or basketball, jumping rope, power-walking, etc.) on most days of the week. You also need to reduce your intake of processed foods, fast foods and alcohol," says Karen Cooper, DO.


Eat Your Greens!

basket of vegetables

A nutritious diet is key to fighting excess belly fat. "Eat a well-balanced diet. Eat a diet high in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein with calories set for gradual weight loss (e.g. about 1-2 pounds per week)," says Trinh Le, MPH, RD. "Cut way back on added sugars and alcohol since these nutrients will more likely end up as visceral fat."

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Get At Least 7 Hours of Sleep

man sleeping in bright room

"When our body is stressed from not sleeping, we store more fat in our trunk area," says Wendy Sweet, Ph.D. "But this is the deep, visceral fat which is unhealthy for our heart and accelerates our trajectory towards age-related obesity. That's why, before women get stuck into too much exercise, I focus them on sleeping first, as well as changing their nutrition to support hormonal changes in menopause. Then they add back in the right exercise to reduce the visceral fat."

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Work On Managing Stress

Female driver sits at wheel in car, touches her head.

If you're dealing with a ton of stress (hey, who isn't) try and find ways to manage it—chronic stress and belly fat are closely linked. "Overexposure to any source of stress sets off a biochemical cascade throughout all parts of the body – right down to the cellular level," says nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott. "Neurological (brain) and endocrine (hormone) pathways are altered in response to stress, with that stress transmitted right down to the cellular and genetic level. Those alterations in nerve/hormone/genes lead to changes in our appetite (we crave more junk food) and in our ability to gain body fat (we burn less and store more, especially in the abdominal/belly region)."

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Belly Fat and Gut Bacteria

gut bacteria microbiome

Research shows gut bacteria can affect fat storage and weight loss, experts say. "Our gut bacteria have 250 to 800 times more genes than we have human genes," says Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D. "Even more remarkable, these bacterial genes make substances that get into the human bloodstream, affecting our body chemistry. That means it is entirely plausible that the bacteria in our gut could be affecting our health. The gut bacteria help break down food. Some bacteria are better able to chop food into those smallest pieces that get digested, add calories to our body and thereby tend to increase our weight. Theoretically, if our guts have more of those kinds of bacteria, it should be harder to lose weight." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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