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Getting rid of belly fat: 11 (+3) study-based tips

Measurements help to better assess success Photo: kurhan / shutterstock.com


What things do you really need to consider if you want to get rid of your belly fat?

If you want to get rid of belly fat, you have to turn various adjusting screws. It is not physically possible to specifically burn fat on the stomach, as we have already explained in this article. But don’t worry, you can still get rid of the belly fat. To do this, you need to boost your overall fat burning, change your diet and exercise. Here are 11 study-based tips to help you achieve your goal.


1. Consume more foods with low energy density

The energy density of foods differs significantly in some cases. For example, 100 g of carrots have 39 kcal(1), while 100 g of whole milk chocolate can reach 535 kcal.(2nd)

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water. That is, they have with the same weight, fewer kilocalories. In conjunction with the included Dietary fiber they have the potential to fill you up longer with a lower energy density. The amount of calories you eat is reduced and you tend to lose weight.




A study by the Pennsylvania State University came to the conclusion that the subjects lost weight due to both a marked and a moderate reduction in the energy density of their food.(3rd)

In particular in combination with a lower fat intake this strategy was particularly effective, as another study from the same year showed.(4th) The subjects, who reduced both the energy density of the food and the fat intake, were able to perform in the one-year period Lose almost 8 kilos on average.

Note: Reduce the energy density of your meals by eating more fruits and vegetables.

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2. Don’t snack (or just healthy)

A snack can be anything from a sandwich to a chocolate bar to an apple. In this respect, snacking cannot be demonized per se when it comes to losing belly fat. This is the result of a review by researchers from Yale University.(5)

However, you should use your fingers of high-sugar or fatty snacks such as chocolate bars, sweet pastries or fries. Studies have shown increased sugar consumption(6) (7) associated with an increase in belly fat.

In addition, a review by Wageningen University suggests that a Relationship between snacks and an overall increased energy consumption could exist.(8th) That in turn could be because the snacks despite the extra calories have little or no influence on the amount of energy consumed during the main mealsas the researchers suspect.

Note: If you snack, then it is natural, healthy and high in fiber.


3. Keep motivation high

Motivation is an important factor in reducing belly fat. No matter whether it is about sticking to a diet, staying on the ball during training or maintaining a healthier lifestyle in the long term.

However, the motivation for losing weight is often drawn from the wrong sources. A review by researchers from the Technical University of Lisbon on various studies that dealt with the influence of motivation on the achievement of various health goals came to the conclusion that the subjects were often dependent on outside help.(9)

The test subjects not only seemed to have long-term success count on the help of doctors, fitness trainers or nutrition experts, the motivation should also have been based on extrinsic and superficial factors such as good looks, social pressure or good persuasion by third parties.

Another review comes to the conclusion that especially self-controlling measures and a high level Self-efficacy expectation were decisive for the weight loss of the test subjects in the studies examined.(10th)

In practice, that means to find a really good reasonwhy you want to lose your belly fat. It does not matter whether this reason is of a health or aesthetic nature, as long as it only matches your inner goals and desires.

The following question can help: “Is the desire to lose belly fat my own and if not, what good reason do I actually have to lose weight?”

Note: If you know the “why”, the “how” will be easier for you.

Also read: Lose weight healthy – Here’s how


4. Measure different successes

When it comes to weight loss, most people rely on one indicator: Body weight – measured by a normal household scale.

However, weight is not necessarily the right indicator when it comes to fat loss. A Mayo Clinic trial in Rochester showed that a third of the test subjects would not have noticed a positive change in body composition with normal weight measurement.(11)

In addition, you may have gained muscle mass through weight training and the weight on the scales appears to be stagnating even though fat has already been lost.

So instead of just relying on the scales, you should as well Measure your waist circumference and over a detailed measurement of your body fat percentage think. Success is visible and motivates you to continue losing belly fat.

Note: When measuring your success, don’t just rely on the scales, but also on the measuring tape or one Impedance analysis.


5. Lose belly fat with high-intensity interval training

Losing weight is also possible without exercise, no question. Nevertheless, you will get rid of the annoying belly fat faster through endurance training and can also emphasize certain parts of the body with targeted strength training.

However, one of the effective training methods to lose fat quickly is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Doing so over a predetermined period short, intense loads, alternated with short rest periods, executed. For example, 8 seconds full sprint, followed by a 12 second pause until the specified time of 10 to 20 minutes is over.

In a study by the University of New South Wales, the participants completed the above training three times a week for 15 weeks. On average they have it with them 11.2% of your body fat lost.(12th) Another study with male subjects was able to achieve similarly positive results.(13)

The advantage of HIIT is that you can can complete practically anywhere: on an ergometer, treadmill, rowing machine, outdoors while jogging or on a bike.

Note: Alternate high-intensity loads with short breaks during training in order to lose belly fat as efficiently as possible.


6. Drink only water to quench your thirst

If you really want to lose belly fat, replace all drinks with water or tea for a while. By warming the water to body temperature you can energy consumption increases by up to 30% after admissionas studies have shown.(14) This effect can last up to 60 minutes.(15) In addition, 500 ml of water before taking a meal should help to suppress the feeling of hunger.(16)

In contrast, some observational studies link one high alcohol consumption with an increased risk of fat deposits on the abdomen.(17th) A study by the University of Buffalo also found that subjects who drank more than one glass of alcohol on average per day were more likely to gain weight on the stomach than those who consumed less than one glass per day.(18th) It didn’t matter whether people actually drank every day or a lot in one fell swoop.

Sweet drinks and processed fruit juices are also a hindrance to losing weight. In a long-term study, researchers from the University of Texas establish a connection between the consumption of diet sodas and fat deposits on the stomach.(19th) A review by the Harvard School of Public Health also found a link between sugar-sweetened drinks and weight gain in children and adults.(20th)

A big problem with sweet drinks is probably the way how our brain handles it. In a study by Purdue University, the subjects did not compensate for the calories consumed with sweet drinks during meals and overall consumed too much energy.(21)

Note: Only cover your fluid needs with water. Alcohol and sweet drinks should be a strict exception if you want to get rid of your belly fat.

Read also: 30 tips to lose weight quickly


7. Increase your NEAT

The abbreviation NEAT stands for “Non-exercise activity thermogenesis“. Translated into German this means: Thermogenesis through non-training-related activity. So NEAT refers to all daily activities, that stimulate our metabolism outside of sports or training: Physical work, walking, standing, gardening, climbing stairs, etc.

Researchers estimate that depending on the activity level, NEAT can burn up to 2000 kcal extra.(22) For this amount, however, you would have to do hard physical work and otherwise move above average. Nonetheless, NEAT can an important lever to support weight loss and maintain results, as a review by the University of Jena suggests.(23)

The practical thing is not to force a big change, but to change small habits in everyday lifethat lead to more movement in total:

  • Go on foot for small purchases
  • Prefer the stairs to the elevator
  • Hold meetings while standing
  • Choose the most distant parking space

Note: Wherever there is an opportunity for exercise in everyday life, use it.


8. Avoid processed foods

This advice is heard again and again, although it does not necessarily make sense in relation to the amount of energy in food. After all, with a basal metabolic rate of 2000 kcal, you should not increase as much by the corresponding amount of energy from processed foods as by natural ones.

However, it doesn’t seem to be about the actual amount of energy, but rather about how our brains and bodies respond to food.

In an experiment, scientists found that subjects who consumed either processed or natural foods at will were affected by the former Ate 500 more calories.(24th) This could be because that processed foods are somewhat addictiveas researchers from the University of Michigan suspect.(25th)

Processed foods are therefore more likely to to eat beyond the feeling of satiety and the amount of calories needed.

Note: Processed foods are more likely to tempt you to overeat, so you should avoid them as much as possible.


9. Learn to cook

In a way, this tip is the logical continuation of the above point. In fact, cooking could help you lose belly fat. An analysis by American researchers revealed one Relationship between home cooked meals and a healthier diet as well as a lower calorie intake.(26)

This thesis supports an English cohort study with more than 11,000 participants. Here too, home-cooked meals with better nutritional quality and lower obesity be associated.(27) The reason for this may be the better knowledge of food, the use of fresh ingredients and the making of certain products yourself.

Note: Teach yourself to cook and deal more with the foods you eat.


10. Escape the compensation trap

In this context, compensation means neutralizing the positive aspects of losing weight with negative ones. For example, after losing weight after a few months, many people reach a plateau that prevents further weight loss despite strict adherence to the diet. In studies, researchers were able to show that this stagnation is partly due to an adaptation of the metabolism is due. (28) (29)

For example, if you only eat 1500 kcal during a diet, even though you would need 2000 kcal, your body will feel better after a few months adapt to the reduced amount of energy. This means, daily metabolic rate drops to 1500 kcal, a completely natural protection mechanism against starvation. How long this effect lasts has not been sufficiently researched. However, studies have shown that some subjects have a duration of up to 6 years.(30th)

But that’s not all, too Behavioral adjustments do their part. According to a review by English researchers, sporting activities in some people can also lead to compensation through eating behavior.(31) Not only should more calories be absorbed, also one increased desire for high-calorie dishes could be found in some of the studies examined.

These findings suggest that losing a belly fat due to a severe calorie deficit is not the right way, but to change your diet over the long term and stay physically active. You can find helpful information on this in our guides “Lose weight without hunger” and “Basics of healthy eating”.

Note: In order to avoid a yo-yo effect, you should opt for a long-term diet change rather than entertaining diets.


11. Eat more protein

A large-scale review(32)Who has examined more than 40 studies of the effects of a high protein diet on weight loss came to the following conclusions:

  • A high protein content increases the feeling of satiety by increasing the release of the hormone peptide YY.
  • Thermogenesis is stimulated by a high protein intake.

In the best case, not only reduced calorie intake, but also burned more energy. Other studies have shown that a higher protein content in the diet resulted in greater weight loss in the medium term than a moderate protein intake.(33) (34) According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), however, this effect does not appear to be long-term.(35)

It is not sufficiently proven whether an excessively high protein content can harm long-term healthy people, as the WHO report “Protein and amino acid requirements in human nutrition“Notes. However, there seems to be an upper limit, which is probably beyond a 40 percent protein content lies. The DGE therefore recommends that adults consume protein 0.8 g per kilo of body weight per day.(36)

Pregnant women and people with impaired kidney function should discuss an increase in the protein percentage with their doctor, as recommended by the DGE.(37) Further information on protein can be found here.

Note: Increasing protein intake can help you lose belly fat in the medium term.


3 extra tips to lose belly fat

Extra tip 1: Try interval fasting

Intermittent fasting alternates phases of food intake with phases of fasting. There are various models that integrate fasting into everyday life either by the hour or by the day. You can find more detailed information in our guide “Losing weight healthily through intermittent fasting”.

Extra tip 2: Sleep enough

In a study by the University Hospitals of Cleveland, which accompanied more than 68,000 subjects over 16 years, the researchers found that less than five hours of sleep for more weight gain led than 7 hours or more.(38) This could be because of too little sleep less appetite-reducing hormones are released and the appetite for sweet and salty foods increases.(39) (40) You can find tips for better sleep in our guide “29 tips for falling asleep quickly”.

Extra tip 3: stimulate your metabolism

Our metabolism plays an important role in losing weight. The main thing is to balance the calories consumed in relation to the burned. What you can do to boost your metabolism can be read in our guide “6 tips to stimulate the metabolism”.

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