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Ways to Melt the "Spare Tire" Strangling Your Middle

Learn five ways to get rid of belly fat, according to experts
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

It's normal to gain a few pounds here and there, especially as we age because our metabolism slows down, but an expanding waistline is something to be mindful of and not let get out of control. "Belly fat, or excess weight around the midsection, has significant health implications, " Dr. Christopher McGowan, Gastroenterologist and founder of True You Weight Loss tells us. "Known more specifically as central or visceral obesity— excess weight at the waistline is directly associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension —and it defines one of the key components of metabolic syndrome. In fact, individuals with central obesity have higher overall morbidity and mortality rates. A waist circumference of 40 inches or more in men, or 35 inches or more in women, is an indicator of central obesity." Read on to learn five ways to get rid of belly fat —and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Strength Training

woman sitting in gym with weight and water bottle

Dr. McGowan says, "Exercise, specifically strength and resistance training, leads to an increase in lean muscle mass and a corresponding decrease in visceral fat. This effect is independent of actual weight loss and is the most effective way to directly target belly fat."




According to Dr. McGowan, "People often overlook the impact that sleep has on weight. A lack of sleep induces a state of elevated stress on the body, increased stress hormone production (including cortisol), decreased GLP-1 production (a key regulator of appetite), and increased cravings for carbohydrates and sweets. All of these factors can contribute to overall weight gain, particularly in the visceral region. A minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep is essential when trying to lose weight."


Limiting Alcohol

refuse alcohol

"Alcohol is one of the worst offenders when it comes to your weight, and your waistline," Dr. McGowan reminds us. "Alcohol impacts weight through various mechanisms — including excess calories, reduced inhibition, and disordered sleep — and may directly lead to an increase in visceral fat accumulation."


Improved Nutrition

eat fiber foods

Dr. McGowan says, "Reducing the intake of high-sugar foods and refined carbohydrates, in particular sodas and other sweetened beverages, is one of the easiest ways to reduce the excess caloric load that contributes directly to visceral adiposity."


Weight Loss Surgery


"The most effective intervention for weight is metabolic and bariatric surgery," Dr. McGowan states. "For individuals with obesity and the complications of visceral adiposity (such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia), bariatric surgery is by far the most effective treatment. It reduces weight, improves metabolic conditions, and improves longevity."


Methods That Don't Work


While there's plenty of ways that help get rid of excess weight around your waist, Dr. McGowan shares the following are ineffective.

–"Liposuction: while the direct removal of fat via liposuction may have body contouring benefits, it only addresses subcutaneous fat and has no impact on the true culprit: intra abdominal visceral fat. As a result, the removal of fat via liposuction does not afford the same benefits on insulin sensitivity, metabolic syndrome, and overall health.

–Abdominal exercises: sit-ups and planks may help to directly strengthen the rectus abdominis muscles, but they will not directly target the overlying fat.

–Fat burners: over-the-counter supplements marketed as "fat burners" are largely caffeine containing products. These supplements are not regulated by the FDA and are not supported by scientific evidence. And frankly, they don't burn fat."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather