Losing the fat around your midsection can be a battle.
In addition to being a risk factor for several diseases, excess abdominal fat may make you feel bloated and discouraged.
Luckily, several strategies have been shown to be especially effective at reducing your waist size.
If you dream about having a flat stomach, this article may be just what you need.
Here are 30 science-backed methods to help you reach your goal of a flat stomach.
1. Cut Calories, but Not Too Much
One popular approach is to reduce your daily intake by 500–1,000 calories to expect to lose approximately 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week (1).
That being said, restricting your calorie intake too much can be counterproductive.
In one study, a group of people who ate 1,100 calories per day slowed their metabolic rate more than twice as much as those who consumed about 1,500 calories per day for four consecutive days (5).
What’s more, this decrease in metabolic rate may persist even after you start behaving like you normally do. That means you may have a lower metabolic rate than you had before you severely restricted your calorie intake (4, 6).
Therefore, it is important that you don’t limit your calorie intake too much or for too long.
Bottom Line: Eating too few calories may slow your metabolic rate, even in the long term. Therefore, it is important not to restrict calories too much or for too long.
2. Drink Water
There are at least three ways in which water may help you achieve a flat stomach.
First, it may help with weight loss by temporarily increasing your metabolic rate.
Try drinking a large glass of water before each meal. It may help you achieve your goal.
Bottom Line: Drinking water may increase your metabolic rate, make you feel fuller and help relieve constipation, all of which may help you achieve your goal of a flatter stomach.
3. Eat More Fiber, Especially Soluble Fiber
Soluble fibers absorb large quantities of water and slow down the passing of food through the digestive tract.
Furthermore, soluble fiber may decrease the number of calories your body is able to absorb from food (9).
One observational study showed that each 10-gram increase in daily soluble fiber intake decreased fat gain around the midsection by 3.7% over five years (11).
Good sources of soluble fibers include oats, flaxseeds, avocados, legumes, Brussels sprouts and blackberries.
Bottom Line: Eating soluble fiber has been linked to a reduced risk of developing fat around your midsection.
4. Take Probiotics
A regular intake of probiotics may shift the balance towards beneficial gut flora, reducing the risk of weight gain and fat accumulation in your abdominal cavity.
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Lactobacillus amylovorus
- Lactobacillus gasseri
Probiotic foods include some types of yogurt, kefir, tempeh, kimchi and pickles.
There are also a wide variety of probiotic supplements available. However, these supplements usually contain several strains of bacteria, so make sure to pick one that contains at least one of the strains mentioned above.
Bottom Line: Probiotics may help build up beneficial gut flora. Some Lactobacillus strains have been shown to be particularly effective at reducing waist size.
5. Do Some Cardio
Doing cardio, or aerobic exercise is an excellent way to burn calories and improve overall health.
Examples of cardio include running, brisk walking, biking, and rowing.
Bottom Line: Doing moderate-to-high-intensity cardio for 20–40 minutes per day has been shown to be effective at reducing belly fat.
6. Drink Protein Shakes
Protein shakes are an easy way to add extra protein to your diet.
Bottom Line: Protein shakes are an easy way to add extra protein to your diet. Including them as part of a weight loss diet has been shown to be effective at reducing your waist size.
7. Eat Foods Rich in Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
Monounsaturated fatty acids are liquid at room temperature and usually categorized among the “healthy fats.”
Foods high in monounsaturated fatty acids include olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.
Bottom Line: Diets high in monounsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk of central obesity.
8. Do Resistance Training
Losing muscle mass is a common side effect of dieting.
This can be detrimental to your metabolic rate, as losing muscle decreases the number of calories you burn on a daily basis (48).
In fact, combining resistance training with aerobic exercise seems to be the most efficient for slimming your waistline (53).
Bottom Line: Resistance training may prevent the loss of muscle mass often seen with dieting, which may help maintain your metabolic rate and reduce your waist circumference.
10.Get Enough Sleep
Getting a sufficient amount of good sleep is critical for weight loss.
Luckily, shifting sleep duration from shorter lengths to healthier periods has been shown to help eradicate these effects (119).
Bottom Line: Those who sleep too little are much more likely to gain weight and have increased waist circumference, compared to normal sleepers.