The first day of summer is just weeks away. So if you’re looking to tone your tummy to feel confident in your swimsuit, it sounds like you’re looking for the quickest ways to lose belly fat.
“Unfortunately, it’s not possible to choose what part of the body you want to lose weight from. In other words, losing only belly fat isn’t entirely possible,” Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD explains via email. But that’s not to say all of your weight-loss efforts are just…in your head. “You can absolutely lose weight and see reductions in your belly fat, as well as other areas of the body,” Rizzo reminds us. That’s why we’ve compiled these dietitian-recommended tips to lose your belly by summer and look way less abominable on the beach. Follow these tips to get your abs flat in no time. And for healthy recipes, supermarket shopping guides, and essential nutrition tips at your fingertips, subscribe to the new Eat This, Not That! magazine now! For a limited time, you can save 50 percent off the cover price—click here!
“Don’t wait until it’s already summer to implement your healthy habits! Start to get yourself into a routine with both your diet and exercise plans. Begin with smaller, more realistic goals, and gradually challenge yourself as you achieve them. For instance, if you haven’t been to the gym once all winter, your goal shouldn’t be to exercise six days a week. Start with two days, and once that feels comfortable, increase to three.” — Leah Silberman, RD at Tovita Nutrition
“If you’re trying to lose weight quickly, one of the best things to do is cut out empty calories from alcohol, especially if you’re following a strict weight-loss plan for a month. Those calories can add up quickly (with 80 to 150 calories per drink), and they add no nutritive value to your diet. Once that month is over, you can definitely indulge in a summer mojito or sangria—everything in moderation!” — NYC-based Registered Dietitian, Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
Cut Carbs at Night
“In order to lose weight at a more rapid pace, I always suggest that my patients minimize carbohydrates at night. Carbohydrates are stored as fat if not utilized right away, and at night we are not expending much energy but rather just going to bed. Think about a marathon runner the night before a big race—what do these runners eat? Pasta! Marathon runners need this stored energy in order to optimize peak performance. However, if you aren’t running a marathon the next morning, you may not need these same sources of carbohydrates. Fill up on protein and vegetables instead of consuming a pasta dinner while you’re trying to minimize belly fat.” — Leah Kaufman, MS, RD, CDE, CDN
Beat the Bloat
“Stay away from gas-provoking foods and beverages! In order to minimize the appearance of belly fat … you may be able to decrease the bloat. There are specific eating behaviors and foods that increase bloat: Don’t drink through a straw (this sucks in air as you suck in those liquids), stop chewing gum, and eliminate carbonated beverages. Eliminating these habits can help give you an overall appearance of being trimmer.” — Kaufman
Fill Up on Protein-Rich Foods
“One of the biggest hindrances to weight loss is overindulging in empty carbs. I’m not talking about whole grains or fruits and vegetables; [I’m talking about] snacks and sugary treats. At every meal, make sure you are eating some protein, and that includes snack time! Protein not only helps with muscle building, but it satiates you and keeps you fuller longer. That means you will be less likely to overeat later in the day.” — Rizzo
Don’t Crash Diet
“Approaching weight loss with a ‘rapid, quick-fix’ mindset is unhealthy, unsustainable, and leads to rapid weight regain. When crash dieting and/or removing foods or food groups, your body responds by significantly conserving energy, e.g., you experience a reduction in metabolic rate and thermic effect of food. Your body also tries to combat this physiological and psychological threat by increasing cravings, hunger, and fatigue … Solution: Stop crash dieting and looking for a quick fix and begin a sustainable approach to nutrition that focuses on developing a strong foundation of healthy eating habits instead.” — Paul Salter, RD, Nutrition Editor of Bodybuilding.com and founder of Fit In Your Dress
Focus on Whole Foods
“A healthy diet is loaded with fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, legumes, and lean proteins. Start incorporating these foods into your diet now! It’s common for people to have difficulty digesting certain veggies, as well as beans and legumes. More specifically, the cruciferous veggies tend to cause bloating and/or gastrointestinal discomfort. However, the more you eat these foods, the more likely your gut will build a tolerance for them (meaning you can eat them without feeling the icky bloating effect). So don’t wait until the summer months to incorporate them! Also, cooking vegetables often makes them easier to digest, so if you’re a newbie, begin with cooking these veggies versus introducing them raw.” — Silberman
Spike Your Workouts
“Try specific core exercises that you haven’t done before. Were you always a yogi? Try Pilates for a few weeks. It’s always a good idea to change up a routine to ‘shock’ the body. Your body gets used to one way of fitness after a period of time and you want to make sure you are always doing your best to change your routine.” — Kaufman
Carry a Reusable Water Bottle
“Get into the habit of staying hydrated. While you should keep yourself hydrated year round, we tend to be more active in the summer months and thus sweat out more water than we otherwise might. Plus those July and August heat waves don’t help with hydration. Carry a water bottle with you and aim for two liters per day. H2O not your thing? Freshly brewed teas or flavored beverages like CORE Organic that avoid unnecessary amounts of sugar are great ways to hydrate.” — Silberman
Avoid Cheat Meals
“Limit all indulgence foods. If you didn’t eat healthy in the off-season, now is your chance. Reduce any major vices such as alcohol, late night binging, sweets, and excess fats. Now is your time to make your comeback. A month can be a great jumpstart for getting your body back on track.” — Jim White, RDN, ACSM, EX-P, founder of Jim White Fitness
Eliminate Processed Carbs Completely
“One of the biggest causes of belly fat is consuming carb-heavy foods. Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrates in the body. For it to exist in your cells, it has to be surrounded by a barrier of water. The human body tightly controls blood sugar levels, so when you eat a carb-heavy meal, glucose gets transported into your cells and liver. Once there, it gets added to existing glycogen, which requires more water and causes more bloat. To reduce water retention, and ultimately get rid of those love handles, eliminate processed carbohydrates and focus on fruit and vegetable intake, lean protein, and healthy fats.” — Catherine Metzgar, PhD, RD at Virta Health
Exercise for 300 Minutes
“According to the American College of Sports Medicine, in order to reduce body fat and increase weight loss, you need to aim for 300 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week. Also, add two to three days of weight training to increase lean muscle mass.” — White
Eat More Fermented Foods
“The root cause of many health concerns can be linked back to our digestive tracts. A high-stress lifestyle, poor food choices, and inadequate sleep can all disrupt the body’s natural ability to break down food and maintain a healthy weight … Eating fermented foods like miso, kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut can help put the good bacteria back into our digestive tracts, allowing everything to work more efficiently. Taking a probiotic like HUM’s Gut Instinct is a great way to get an added boost of the healthy bacteria needed to maintain a healthy weight.” — Sarah Greenfield, RD, CSSD, HUM Nutrition’s Director of Education
Try Intermittent Fasting
“Giving the body time to rest and digest are critical for overall health. Fasting is not only good for longevity and anti-aging, but it also helps our bodies utilize fat more efficiently for energy. Leaving 12 to 16 hours between dinner and breakfast for a couple of days per week can help your body burn through fat. This is not about eating less throughout the day, just eating in a shorter period of time. It helps your body get into its detox pathways quicker and can help keep your body healthy and weight balanced.” — Greenfield
Break your fast with one of the delicious recipes in Zero Belly Smoothies. You can lose up to 16 pounds in 14 days and sip your way to a lean and healthy you!
“Put it out on social media you are trying to reduce belly fat. The accountability and support will drive your motivation to the next level.” — White
Supplement With Magnesium
“Getting eight hours of sleep per night can help restore cortisol levels, a hormone responsible for abdominal fat storage. Sleep is important for detox pathways, cellular clean up, and hormone balance—all which help your body more efficiently utilize fat and keep a healthy body weight … Foods high in magnesium like dark leafy greens, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and bananas can help ensure the body has adequate levels of magnesium, which can help regulate sleep pathways.”— Greenfield
Before you hit the sack, prep one of these 50 Overnight Oats Recipes for Weight Loss to lose your belly by summer.