It’s the first place that excess weight shows up – and the most visible.
A paunch spilling over the top of your jeans is never a good look - but it’s also the most dangerous type of fat for your health too. This visceral fat increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
And while losing stubborn belly fat isn’t easy, it’s not impossible either.
Read on for 9 scientifically-proven ways to improve your diet and effectively give you a flatter stomach again.
If you’ve put on a few pounds recently the likelihood is it’s in your abdominal region, just because men tend to hold onto weight there the most.
And no matter how hard you work on your abs you’ll never be able to show them off if they’re hidden under a layer of fat.
By far the fastest way to get rid of excess abdominal fat is by making some small (but critical) changes to your diet.
Couple this with prioritizing exercise, improving your sleep and reducing your stress levels, and you’ll soon have a washboard stomach again.
How to Get a Flatter Stomach
Here are 9 scientifically-proven tips to improve your diet and effectively lose belly fat.
#1 Eat a high protein diet
Protein is great for losing weight in general – increasing your feeling of fullness, upping your metabolic rate and making sure you retain muscle mass during weight loss.
And studies have shown that people who eat a high protein diet tend to have less abdominal fat too.
Excellent protein sources include:
Try to include one of these foods at every meal to burn the extra fat around your waist.
#2 Avoid trans fats
Trans fats (sometimes listed as partially hydrogenated fats) can be found in some margarines, spreads and packaged goods. They’re created by pumping hydrogen into vegetable oils.
They’re the worst type of fat for your health. With several studies linking them to increased levels of abdominal fat - as well as heart disease, inflammation and insulin resistance.
Trans fats are not always easy to spot so read ingredient labels carefully to avoid products that contain them.
This will help you to reduce belly fat, as well as protect your health generally.
#3 Eat Probiotic foods (or take a probiotic supplement)
Probiotics are the gut-improving bacteria found in fermented foods and supplements.
They have incredible health benefits - including enhancing immune function, promoting a healthy digestive system and helping with weight loss, especially loss of abdominal fat.
And there’s early research that suggests probiotics may lead to better-looking skin too.
Fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and some types of cheese are among the best sources, but if none of those appeal then opt for a probiotic supplement.
Bacteria from the Lactobacillus family are the most beneficial for reducing belly fat, so make sure to choose a supplement that includes those strains of bacteria.
#4 Cut back on alcohol
A little won’t cause you much of a problem, but research suggests that heavy alcohol consumption is associated with excess fat storage around your waist and a significant risk of developing central obesity.
Cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink in a single day will help reduce your waistline.
An excellent source of soluble fiber, eating figs can help to reduce belly fat
#5 Eat plenty of soluble fiber
Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel that slows down food as it passes through your digestive system. This makes you feel full, so you eat less, as well as decreasing the number of calories your body absorbs.
What’s more, soluble fiber also helps to reduce belly fat.
A 5-year study found that increased soluble fiber intake led to a significant decrease in abdominal fat.
Try to fit plenty of high fiber foods into your diet every day. The following are all excellent sources:
- Brussel sprouts
- Flax seeds
- Sweet potato
And check out "An A-Z of the best anti aging foods for men" for more healthy food choices.
#6 Avoid sugary foods and drinks
It’s no surprise that excess sugar intake is a major cause of weight gain.
And sugar contains fructose, which is linked to several chronic diseases when consumed in excess - including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Studies have also shown a clear link between high sugar consumption and abdominal fat.
So it’s important to limit your intake of sugar, along with those processed foods which are high in added sugar.
In fact, even ‘healthier sugars’, like maple syrup and honey, should be used sparingly.
And sugary drinks (loaded with liquid fructose) can be even worse than high sugar foods.
One study found that drinking soda, sweet tea or sweetened alcoholic mixers led to significant abdominal fat gain.
Best to avoid all forms of sugar when you’re trying to burn belly fat.
#7 Eat fewer refined carbohydrates
Reducing your carb intake in general is a great way of losing fat, including abdominal fat.
You don’t have to follow a strict low carb diet though.
Research suggests that it’s only a high intake of refined carbs that’s associated with excess belly fat.
Whereas increasing your whole-grain intake leads to a lower level of visceral fat around your middle.
Simply cutting out refined carbohydrates and replacing them with healthy carbs – like whole grains, legumes and vegetables - reduces belly fat and increases your metabolism.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon can significantly reduce abdominal fat
#8 Eat fatty fish at least once a week
Fatty fish, like salmon, sardines and mackerel, are rich in high quality protein and are an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids.
These healthy fats are excellent for your metabolism, cardiovascular health and for helping your skin to stay looking hydrated and younger too.
Not to mention that there’s evidence to show that omega-3’s can significantly reduce abdominal fat.
Aim for 2–3 servings of fatty fish per week – or take an omega-3 supplement daily.
#9 Try Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting.
This can either be a 24-hour fast once a week or fasting every day for 16 hours and confining all of your eating to the remaining 8-hour period.
Studies suggest that it may be one of the most effective ways to lose weight and reduce belly fat, certainly as effective as calorie-restricted diets, and easier to stick to.
In fact, some reports say that with both intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting, people experienced a 4–7% decrease in abdominal fat within 6–24 weeks.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should stop fasting immediately if you experience any negative effects.
We've got more on the anti aging effect of Intermittent Fasting here: "How Intermittent Fasting Makes Your Skin Look Younger".
Working out regularly will build muscles, reduce belly fat, and improve your posture - making your stomach look flatter
Along with the dietary changes above there’s a couple of other things you can do that will help you reduce fat gain around your waist.
Get plenty of quality sleep
Sleep is important for all aspects of your health, including your looks (it’s not called Beauty Sleep for nothing)
But research has also shown that if you’re not getting enough sleep then you’re more likely to put on extra weight, including on your waistline.
So make it a priority to get a good night’s quality sleep as often as you can.
Manage your stress levels
Stress can trigger the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, prompting you to gain belly fat. With high cortisol levels increasing your appetite and encouraging abdominal fat storage.
Whether it’s meditation, reading or just going for a walk – try to schedule some stress relieving activities regularly into your day.
Staying in good shape has always been one of the keys to looking lean and healthy. Working out regularly will build muscles, reduce belly fat and improve your posture - making your stomach look flatter at the same time.
We've got some great ab workouts to help you here too:
Remember to wash your face post-workout to get rid of excess oil and any build up of sweat, both of which can have an ageing effect on your face.
Long term strategy for losing belly fat
No one strategy will be effective on its own. You need to adopt a combination of the different methods above to maintain a flat stomach.
They’re all associated with an overall healthy lifestyle and healthy eating, so it’ll be more than just your waistline that improves.
Changing your lifestyle in the long term is the best way of losing belly fat - and keeping it off.
What is visceral fat?
Most fat is stored underneath the skin (known as subcutaneous fat).
Whereas visceral fat (or belly fat) is stored deep within the abdominal cavity, wrapped around important organs like the liver, kidneys and intestines.
Why is abdominal fat so dangerous to your health?
Too much of any type of fat is bad for your health. But excess fat around your waist hurts your health in a way that the fat underneath your skin (subcutaneous fat) doesn’t.
This visceral fat (or abdominal fat) raises your risk of serious health issues – like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and high cholesterol.
Researchers believe that visceral fat pumps out substances that inflame your body’s tissues and organs, and interfere with the hormones that regulate weight, mood and brain function – increasing your stress levels.
Belly fat can be hard to shift but it’s not impossible.
And the fastest way to lose it – and keep it off - is by making smart diet choices.
Here are 9 scientifically-proven ways to improve your diet and effectively give you a flatter stomach.
- Eat a high protein diet
- Avoid trans fats
- Eat probiotic foods (or take a probiotic supplement)
- Cut back on alcohol
- Eat plenty of soluble fiber
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks
- Eat less refined carbohydrates
- Eat fatty fish at least once a week
- Try Intermittent fasting
Couple these methods with getting plenty of sleep, reducing your stress levels and prioritizing exercise and you’ll soon be showing off your six pack again.
And to keep your face looking as good as your body...
HIGH-PERFORMANCE SKINCARE FOR MEN.
All you need to stay looking handsome.