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The Best Health Habits To Shrink Belly Fat Fast, Physicians Say

Blasting belly fat is easier than you think.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Visceral fat, also known as belly fat or abdominal fat, is a particularly dangerous fat, experts warn. "Fat doesn't just store calories—it's a living tissue capable of producing and releasing hormones that affect your other organs," says Trinh Le, MPH, RD. "Because visceral fat sits near our organs, its release of these chemicals is poorly situated. Having more visceral fat can raise your LDL (a.k.a. "bad" cholesterol) and blood pressure. Visceral fat can also make you less sensitive to insulin, which increases your risk for Type 2 diabetes." Here are five proven ways to get rid of belly fat, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

How Much Is Too Much Belly Fat?

Nutritionist inspecting a woman's waist using a measuring tape to prescribe a weight loss diet
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"You can use a tape measure to get a good idea of whether you've packed on too many pounds around your abdomen," says Julie Chen, MD. "Place the tape measure around your belly button and level the sides at the top of your hip bones. For men, a waist measurement of 40 inches is a sign of too much visceral fat. For women, a waist measurement of 35 inches is considered high risk."

2

Eat Real Food

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Don't drink your calories if you can eat them (and definitely avoid sugary beverages). "When we drink our calories, especially with soda or juice, we don't feel as full or satisfied compared to chewing those calories," says David Creel, PhD. "For instance, you may eat three oranges for the same amount of calories as a large glass of orange juice and feel much fuller for a longer period of time."

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3

Don't Neglect Your Sleep

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According to the CDC, a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep. If this sounds like you, make sure to get at least seven hours a night—it will help get rid of the abdominal fat.  "Sleep more, stress less. It's easier said than done, but in order to take care of your physical body, you have to take care of your mental state," says Trinh Le, MPH, RD. "Sleep loss and stress can sabotage your health and fitness goals, so learn more about getting a quality night's rest and use meditation or yoga to calm your mind. Remember, it's not just about your health; it's about your happiness, too."

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4

Stress Is Making Your Belly Fat Worse

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If you're constantly stressed out, it will show on your belly (totally not fair if your belly fat is what's making you feel stressed!). "While cortisol levels play a role, the bigger issue can be that when we're more stressed, we tend to be less mindful of our eating," says Dr. Creel. "It is common for people to turn to food for comfort or to distract themselves from stressful life circumstances."

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5

Try Strength Training Instead of Cardio

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If you hate running, resistance training might be the best workout for blasting belly fat.  "A lot of people think that if you want to lose weight, you need to go out and run," says Dr Mandy Hagstrom, exercise physiologist and senior lecturer at UNSW Medicine & Health. "But our findings show that even when strength training is done on its own, it still causes a favorable loss of body fat without having to consciously diet or go running."

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