How to Naturally Lose Belly Fat for Women

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We’ve all been there: standing in front of the mirror, shirt pulled up, tummy exposed, pinching the excess from your waistline. Before making nutrition a priority, I obsessed over the "roll," but couldn't seem to shed it. The question of how to lose belly fat naturally was always running through my mind.

But then I decided I was going to do something about this excess tummy flab. Beyond obsessing about it in the mirror, I wanted to find out what was going on. I wanted to discover why so many women struggle with stomach fat.

The two types of belly fat

Ladies, before we talk about how we’re going to eliminate belly fat, we need to know what we’re battling. And the reality is that not all fat is equal.

subcutaneous fat vs. visceral fat

It’s stubborn, annoying, frustrating, but even worse, belly fat can lead to much more than a tight fitting pair of jeans. There are two types of fat surrounding your belly. One is unsightly, makes you self-conscious and the other can wreak havoc on your health.

According to Harvard Medical there are two types of abdominal fat. The two types of fat that surround your belly are subcutaneous fat (fat that lies just under your skin – the stuff you can pinch) and visceral fat (the fat surrounding your organs). 

Subcutaneous fat

Subcutaneous fat is found around the hips and thighs, and doesn't act metabolically like visceral fat does. This is the fat responsible for making your jeans fit uncomfortably.

Visceral fat

And then below the subcutaneous fat lies visceral fat. Visceral fat is the deep-lying belly fat that surrounds internal organs and releases inflammatory compounds that negatively affect your system. It can lead to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Women with a lot of belly fat are more likely to develop breast cancer or need gallbladder surgery

As noted by Dr. Axe, one of the reasons excess visceral fat is harmful could be its location near the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances released by visceral fat, including free fatty acids, enter the portal vein and travel to the liver, where they can influence the production of blood lipids.

Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

Why do we get belly fat?

Before we discuss how to naturally get rid of a flabby tummy, let's first look at what led to the belly fat accumulating in the first place. There are three reasons women collect belly fat: 

  1. Hormones

  2. Lifestyle choices and habits

  3. Dietary habits

Hormones:

The female body has been designed to naturally store fat in the hips, thighs, and buttocks to support childbirth and breastfeeding during childbearing years. But as you age, estrogen production decreases and much of that fat is redistributed to the belly. This turns into visceral fat.

Lifestyle choices and habits:

Lifestyle choices such as the amount of sleep you get, the amount of stress you carry, and your activity levels have a large impact on your belly fat and overall wellbeing. Are you active? How much TV do you watch in a given night?

Dietary habits:

Arguably more important than the previous two causes of belly fat, your dietary habits must be kept in check. Excess calorie consumption and the type of foods you consume are a large contributor to belly fat as well. 

22 ways to naturally lose belly fat for women

Now that we understand what has lead to the muffin top, let's talk about how to get rid of it. I've compiled the top 22 ways to shed your belly fat naturally: that means no pills, no wraps, no surgery. Consider this your ultimate guide to naturally getting rid of your gut!

Spoiler alert: sit-ups and crunches aren't in this list because they won't do it. These spot exercises can tighten your abdominal muscles, but won't remove the visceral fat.

avoid-consuming-lot-of-sugar

#1: Avoid sugary foods

We all know that sugar isn't healthy. It contains fructose, which has been linked to several chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease when consumed in excess.  

Studies have also shown a link between high sugar intake and increased abdominal fat. But as Healthline.com points out, you should realize belly fat doesn't just come from refined sugars. Even natural or "healthier" sugars (such as honey) should be limited. Cutting back on your sugar intake is a simple way to lose belly fat without exercising or burning calories.

Tip:

Grab a hand full of nuts for your afternoon snack. These contain healthy fats and don’t contain sugar like most snack foods.

#2: Avoid sugary drinks

Sugar-sweetened drinks are full of liquid fructose, which can lead to belly fat. And since your brain doesn't process liquid calories the same as solid calories, you're likely to end up consuming more than you should. And that’s why sugary beverages can even be worse than high-sugar foods.

To lose and prevent belly fat, it's a good idea to avoid those sugary beverages and alcoholic mixers containing sugar. 

Tip:

Exchange your soda for sparkling flavored water.

#3: Consume soluble fiber

Consuming high-fiber foods each day has been shown to promote fat loss. Studies show that soluble fiber causes you to feel full and naturally promotes fat loss. In an observation study, soluble fiber was shown to help reduce belly fat. Soluble fiber has even been shown to combat belly fat.

“An observational study of over 1100 adults found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber intake, belly fat gain decreased by 3.7% over a 5-year period,” according to Healthline.com. Flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts, avocados, legumes, and blackberries are all excellent sources of soluble fiber.

Tip:

Make avocado toast for breakfast, sprinkle some blackberries onto your yogurt, or make a side of Brussel sprouts for dinner.

trans-fat

#4: Avoid trans fats

Trans fats have been linked to fat gain along with several other diseases

A study conducted over six years found that monkeys consuming a high-trans-fat diet gained significantly more weight and abdominal fat than the test group. 

Tip:

To avoid gaining belly fat, make sure you are proactively reading labels and avoid products containing trans fats.

avoid-large-amounts-of-alcohol

#5: Avoid large amounts of alcohol

It’s called a beer belly for a reason. Research has shown that too much alcohol will lead to belly fat.  Carefully monitoring, and cutting back if needed, can help reduce the size of your tummy.

Tip:

Begin your night with a number in mind. Then don’t surpass that number of drinks. Switch to sparkling water once you’ve hit your predetermined number of adult beverages.

#6: Eat protein

Studies have proven that if you consume more protein you’ll be more likely to have less fat around your belly

When you consume protein your body releases a hormone called PYY. This hormone helps to decrease your appetite

Tip:

Get a good protein powder: one without the added junk. I talk about my favorite protein powders and what I look for when buying protein powder in this post: Best Supplements for You and Your Family.

#7: Reduce stress

When you are stressed your body produces cortisol (a.k.a. the “stress hormone”) and in turn, increases your appetite causing an increase in belly fat.

Tip:

I truly believe one of the best stress relievers is exercise. You could also consider taking a yoga class. Anything that will help you eliminate that built up stress and tension.

#8: Do cardio

Cardio, or aerobic exercise, not only reduces stress but also burns calories.  Aerobic exercise has also been shown to be one of the most effective forms of exercise to remove belly fat.

Tip:

You can make note of my previous tip. Breaking a sweat is a great way to burn off stress. It will prevent the stress hormone from adding belly fat to your midsection.

#9: Do resistance training

Resistance training, also known as weight lifting or strength training (or more broadly known as anaerobic exercise), is important for developing, maintaining, and gaining muscle mass.

As reported by Healthline.com, studies have shown resistance training to be beneficial for people with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver disease and has even lead to belly fat loss.

Tip:

If you’ve already begun a workout routine, consider adding a few minutes of weight training. You could also do different body weight exercises from the comfort of your own home.

reduce-carbs

#10: Reduce carbs

The dreaded low carb diet {insert eye roll here}: I’m not a fan and I’m assuming you’re not either. But instead of removing carbohydrates altogether, consider lowering the amount you consume per day. Consuming fewer than 50 grams of carbs a day can cause a loss of belly fat. 

Tip:

Instead of starting your day with toast, eat some berries and nuts. Look for little ways of removing unneeded carbs.

#11: Consume coconut oil

There are bad fats and good fats. Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat. Coconut oil boosts your metabolism and discourages fat storage throughout your body and more specifically in your belly.

Tip:

Switch your cooking oil to coconut oil.

#12: Get plenty of sleep

When it comes to your health, sleep cannot be overlooked. Studies have shown that poor sleeping habits can dramatically impact your health and lead to weight gain. Make sure that you are getting the proper quantity and quality of sleep each night.

Tip:

Set a sleep timer on your phone to help you get to bed a good time each night. You can implement a nightly routine that will prepare your mind and body for a restful sleep.

#13: Consider cutting back

Although I’m not a huge fan of counting calories, sometimes awareness is the best way to curb your consumption. Consuming more food than your body needs is a sure way to gain fat.

Tip:

Keeping a food diary or utilizing a tracker may be what you need for a time to help bring awareness to your consumption.

#14: Stop drinking fruit juice

It’s made from fruit so it must be healthy, right? An overlooked aspect of fruit juices is that they often contain as much, and sometimes even more sugar as soda and other sweetened beverages.

And just like any other sugary beverage, drinking large amounts may lead to abdominal fat storage.

Tip:

If you’re the person that begins each morning with a glass of orange juice (my husband used to do this), consider drinking a glass of ice water instead.

apple-cider-vinegar

#15: Drink apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which has been shown to reduce abdominal fat storage in animal studies.

Begin taking 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day to help shrink that belly circumference

Tip:

Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into an 8 ounce glass of water to start your day.

#16: Begin taking a probiotic

Probiotics are live bacteria that benefit your health, especially your digestive system. They improve your gut health and your immune function in addition to many other health benefits.

According to Healthline.com, "Researchers have found different types of bacteria play a role in weight regulation, and having the right balance can help with weight loss, including loss of belly fat. Those shown to reduce belly fat include members of the Lactobacillus family. These include Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus amylovorus and especially Lactobacillus gasseri.” If a slimmer belly is your goal, make sure your probiotic contains one or more of these bacterial strains.

Tip:

I talk about my probiotic and what I look for when buying a probiotic in my post: Best Supplements for You and Your Family. Look for one that has 15 billion to 100 billion number of probiotics and has 10-30 different strains.

#17: Drink green tea

Green tea has many health benefits. It also boosts your metabolism through caffeine and the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

Studies have suggested that EGCG may be effective for losing belly fat. 

Tip:

Start your morning with a cup of green tea. Or drink a cup early in the afternoon.

#18: Monitor your consumption habits

When it comes to nutrition, awareness plays a large role. Do you eat when you're board? Do you eat when you're watching television? Do you eat more around certain people? It's important to track these behaviors in order to combat these habits that could have a negative impact on your nutrition.

Tip:

Similar to a food log, track when you eat to identify habits that should be modified.

#19: Monitor your lifestyle habits

Being proactive doesn't stop at your dietary practices. Maybe you need to become more active. Are your evenings filled with binge watching Netflix? And what about your weekends? Do all your plans revolve around where, when, and how much you'll eat? Consider joining a sports league. Or picking up a hobby that requires an increased activity level.

Tip:

Identify what area of your life could be modified in order to be more active. Maybe there’s an outdoor hobby that you’re interested in.

HIIT-workout

#20: Begin HIIT

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, has been called the secret weapon of fat loss. HIIT alternates between short, intense anaerobic exercises, such as sprints, with less-intense recovery periods. This method of exercise raises your heart rate and allows you to burn more calories in a shorter period of time. And if losing loads of calories in a short period of time wasn't enough of a reason, HIIT offers many other benefits as well.

Tip:

Checkout this simple HIIT program I developed. It can even be done at home.

#21: Begin intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting has been a recent method of fat loss. Nerd Fitness explains it best: “Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern.  It’s making a conscious decision to skip certain meals on purpose. By fasting and then feasting on purpose, intermittent fasting generally means that you consume your calories during a specific window of the day, and choose not to eat food for a larger window of time.

Test subjects of intermittent fasting studies have experienced up to 7% decrease in abdominal fat within a period of 6-24 weeks.

Tip:

See if intermittent fasting is for you. One simple way would be to eliminate lunch. Or skip breakfast and have a light snack (a handful of nuts) before lunch.

#22: Make it a lifestyle

The best method to shedding that stubborn belly fat naturally is by sticking to a plan – making it a sustainable lifestyle. Here's the hard-to-swallow-truth: if you're going to stop drinking soda for a week it won't help you lose your belly.

And that's why diets don't work. Until something becomes a way of life you won't be able to get sustainable results. Jumping from one method to the next will only leave you more frustrated than when you began.

Tip:

Realize that if sustained belly fat loss is what you’re after, then you need to make it a lifestyle. Otherwise, you’ll undue your achievements once you begin the negative habit again.

Some of these methods to losing your belly fat are more difficult than others. But if you're going to see results from any of them you need to make them a part of your lifestyle.

All these ways of toning up your belly will also help you achieve a healthier lifestyle. When you practice healthy habits and have healthy nutrition, fat loss will be a natural result.

So let me ask you:

Don’t let this list of ways to naturally reduce your belly fat overwhelm you. If you’re working to reduce your waistline or want to begin eliminating belly fat start small. Select one or two of these methods that you can make a part of your life.

Or maybe you’re already on your journey to reducing your storage of belly fat. If that’s you, then I encourage you to challenge yourself. Maybe you need to eliminate something from your diet. Or maybe you want to give HIIT a try.

If you’re reading this and you want to shed some belly fat, then don’t leave this page without making a commitment to implementing one or two of the natural belly fat reducing methods. Write your plan in the comments below – which will you choose?