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Surefire Tricks to Shrinking Abdominal Fat

Blast your belly fat with these easy science-backed tips.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Being overweight or obese is connected to a number of serious health conditions, but abdominal fat is especially dangerous. "Fat located around the abdomen, particularly visceral fat surrounding the liver and internal organs, is highly inflammatory and metabolically disruptive: it releases inflammatory molecules that contribute to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and ultimately cardiovascular disease," says Chika Anekwe, MD, MPH. "Studies have shown it's even linked to dementia, asthma, and some cancers… The good news is that abdominal fat responds to the same behavioral habits and strategies recommended for overall health and total body fat loss." Here are five ways to shrink your abdominal 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

Eat a Healthy Diet

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Enjoying a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet is key to getting rid of belly fat. "Choose complex carbohydrates and high-fiber foods over simple carbs found in sugary foods and beverages, especially those containing fructose," says Howard E. LeWine, MD. "Of all carbs, fructose may add the most inches to waistlines as it can trigger cravings and overeating."

2

Strength Training

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Lifting weights is a great way to get in shape, improve overall health, and get rid of belly fat. "Research shows that the combination of strength training and cardio exercise works well for weight loss," says personal trainer Stephanie Mansour. "Strength training helps build muscle, which burn fats and speeds up the metabolism. Plus, muscle burns more calories than fat, so building muscle helps us burn more at rest, which will also help aid in weight loss. And many strength training exercises engage the core, which will help strengthen the abdominal area and increase muscle tone in the midsection."

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3

Stop Smoking Immediately

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Did you know those incredibly unhealthy cigarettes are also giving you a pot belly? "Tobacco influences fat distribution through hormones like cortisol that increase abdominal fat deposition," says Sue Pedersen, MD. "In women, nicotine has an anti-estrogen effect which also favors abdominal fat collection. One of the results of these undesirable hormone effects is that smoking actually increases the risk of diabetes by 44% compared to nonsmokers, independent of body weight.  This may be due to a direct effect of nicotine on the pancreatic cells that produce insulin, as well as the abdominal fat collection as well, which causes insulin resistance."

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4

Embrace Your Zen

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No, this isn't some crunchy New Age advice—there is a wealth of studies and research linking chronic stress to belly fat and other dangerous health conditions. "Everyone is exposed to stress, but some people may secrete more cortisol than others, and may secrete cortisol each time they face the same stressor," says Elissa S. Epel, Ph.D. "We predicted that reacting to the same stressors consistently by secreting cortisol would be related to greater visceral fat." Exercise, meditation, and therapy are all great ways to manage stress.

RELATED: Reasons Most People Gain "Too Much" Abdominal Fat

5

Go To Bed

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Getting enough sleep is essential for every aspect of health—and that includes a flat(ter) stomach. "It is easy to trade sleep for another activity without recognising the consequences, however, what people need to realize is that quality sleep is equally as important as nutrition and exercise," says Amy Reynolds, Ph.D. "A lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart issues and even increases the likelihood to catch a common cold." 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