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4 Dietitians Agree: These Are the 9 Most Effective Ways to Lose Belly Fat

Popsugar logo Popsugar 11-10-2018 Jenny Sugar
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If everything you've tried hasn't helped you reach your lean-belly goals, we've asked four dietitians to share the most effective ways to reduce belly fat. While exercise can help burn calories and build lean muscle, you'll get the most results if you take a hard look at your diet.

Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist and Arivale Coach Ginger Hultin, MS, CSO, and Vermont-based registered dietitian nutritionist Maddie Kinzly MS, LD, told POPSUGAR that while you can't choose where on your body you gain (sorry boobs!) or lose fat, some people are more predisposed to holding weight in their bellies. "Much of this is driven by genetics, so you can look to your parents and other relatives to better understand the body shape that you naturally have and where you may deposit fat stores," Hultin explained.

Although you can't specifically tell your tummy to slim down on command, Kinzly said you can see reductions in your belly fat and other areas of your body when you lose weight overall. Here are the most effective eating tips to reduce belly fat.

Do: Control Calories

a close up of a person holding a piece of food: Getty / Guido Mieth © Getty / Guido Mieth Getty / Guido Mieth

Follow a diet with appropriate calories for your needs, because eating too much can lead to greater fat deposits, including around the belly, Hultin explained. "Caloric needs are based on numerous factors, but the most important ones for a healthy individual include gender, age, weight, height, and activity level," added Stephanie Ferrari, a registered dietitian with Fresh Communications.

Everyone is different, so in order to find out how many calories you need, meet with a registered dietitian who can assess your lifestyle and health history to make recommendations.

Don't: Drink Alcohol

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Both Hultin and Kinzly agree that drinking alcohol won't help you reduce belly fat. "We say that alcohol is empty calories for a reason; with 80 to 150 calories per drink, these can add up quickly," Kinzly said. "Excessive alcohol will cause the liver to stop metabolizing fat and carbohydrates in order to get the alcohol metabolized first." This leads to the storage of more fat in your body (and your belly), so limit the wine, beer, and cocktails.

Do: Eat More Plant-Based Meals

a woman sitting at a table with a plate of food: Getty/ Vladimir Vladimirov © Getty/ Vladimir Vladimirov Getty/ Vladimir Vladimirov

Hultin said studies show that vegetarians (and even more so, vegans) routinely have lower body weights. That's because plant-based foods like veggies are high in fibre, and research shows that women who followed a higher-fibre diet were at a reduced likelihood of having an increased waist circumference. Try eating a more plant-based diet, focusing on veggies, whole grains, and plant proteins such as beans, nuts, seeds, and soy products.

Don't: Consume Trans Fat

Getty / Adam Gault © Getty / Adam Gault Getty / Adam Gault

"Trans fats could make you fatter than other foods with the same number of calories," Kinzly said, which is shocking. New research indicates that trans fats increase the amount of fat around the belly. These are man-made fats and our bodies have a very hard time digesting them, so avoid hydrogenated oils found in manufactured baked goods such as cookies and crackers, frosting, some brands of margarine and shortening, and candies.

Related: 9 Eating Hacks for Weight Loss (Wellness)


Do: Get Enough Protein

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Kinzly suggested focusing on lean protein at every single meal to build muscle and satiate hunger.

For protein, you need about 0.8 to 1.8 gram per pound of body weight, depending on how active you are. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 20 to 30 grams per meal of lean protein from sources that are low in saturated fats and processed carbohydrates. "This doesn't necessarily mean eat more meat," Kinzly explained. "There are many plant foods that contain protein, including grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and vegetables."


Do: Focus on Whole Foods

a tray of food: Getty / Guido Mieth © Getty / Guido Mieth Getty / Guido Mieth

Eat foods in the form most closely found in nature. Kinzly said they're "loaded with healthy vitamins, minerals, and fibre to keep you full." Your plate should include whole foods, such as complex carbs like fruit, sweet potatoes, and whole grains, a variety of veggies, nuts and seeds, lean protein, and eggs, and limit the packaged foods with tons of ingredients, additives, and dyes.

Don't: Eat Sugar and Processed Junk

a piece of cake on a plate next to a cup of coffee: Getty / Maria Toczynska © Getty / Maria Toczynska Getty / Maria Toczynska

You already know that eating junk food won't help you lose weight but knowing why might make it easier to pass up. Processed carbs and sugary foods such as ice cream, cookies, muffins, crackers, bagels, and white bread spike your insulin levels, which causes weight gain. Keeping your insulin levels low will help you reduce your overall body fat percentage and that means belly fat.

Aside from being high in carbs, these foods also tend to be high in calories. That's not the only problem, though: Eating them doesn't offer your body any nutrition, so you end up feeling hungry, which makes you eat more. Eating sugary foods also increases your cravings for them, another contributor to overeating.

It's OK to enjoy sugary treats and processed carbs every once in a while, but if you cut down on these types of food, you'll definitely notice a difference in how you feel and how your belly looks.

Do: Try Intermittent Fasting

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Intermittent fasting (IF) involves not eating (aka fasting) for part of each day or a few times a week. One common example of this is to eat only during an eight-hour window in a day and fast for the other 16. When your body doesn't have a constant energy source from the food you eat, it allows your body to utilize the fat stores it already has, helping you lose belly fat.

Ferrari and Luiza Petre, MD, a weight-loss specialist and board-certified cardiologist, told POPSUGAR that intermittent fasting raises growth hormone levels and lowers insulin levels, both of which help burn more fat. "Insulin decreases when you fast, and lower levels of insulin results in burning more fat," Ferrari added.

Eating in a shortened window not only reduces hunger (it's true!), but since you're not eating for long periods of time, there are fewer opportunities to consume calories, which is why IF helps people eat fewer calories effortlessly.

Do: Add Exercise

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Aside from these healthy eating habits, Kinzly suggested utilizing exercise to help decrease belly fat. Many experts agree that you should focus on strength training to increase your muscle mass to burn more calories and speed up your metabolism. Aim for at least three sessions a week, include all parts of your body, incorporate different exercises, and use a variety of equipment.

If you do like cardio, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are the most effective type of cardio proven to target belly fat. It not only works, but it saves you time at the gym.

Strenuous workouts aren't essential for losing body fat since diet plays such a huge role. But moving throughout the day and getting in at least 10,000 steps can absolutely help you burn extra calories and lose weight.

Watch: The Shocking Amount of Weight We Gain in Relationships (Buzz60)

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Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are the author's own and MSN does not endorse them in any way. Neither can MSN independently verify any claims made in the article. You should consult your physician before starting any weight loss or health management programme to determine if it is right for your needs.

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