Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel that helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system.
What’s more, soluble fiber may help fight belly fat.
An observational study in over 1,100 adults found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber intake, belly fat gain decreased by 3.7% over a 5-year period (6).
Trans fats are created by pumping hydrogen into unsaturated fats, such as soybean oil.
They’re found in some margarines and spreads and also often added to packaged foods.
A 6-year study found that monkeys who ate a high-trans-fat diet gained 33% more abdominal fat than those eating a diet high in monounsaturated fat (10).
To help reduce belly fat and protect your health, read ingredient labels carefully and stay away from products that contain trans fats. These are often listed as partially hydrogenated fats.
Alcohol can have health benefits in small amounts but is seriously harmful if you drink too much.
Research suggests that too much alcohol can also make you gain belly fat.
Cutting back on alcohol may help reduce your waist size. You don’t need to give it up altogether but limiting the amount you drink in a single day can help.
In a study in more than 2,000 people, those who drank alcohol daily but averaged less than one drink per day had less belly fat than those who drank less frequently but consumed more alcohol on the days they drank (12).
Protein is an extremely important nutrient for weight control.
High protein intake increases the release of the fullness hormone PYY, which decreases appetiteand promotes fullness. Protein also raises your metabolic rate and helps you retain muscle mass during weight loss (13, 14, 15).
Stress can make you gain belly fat by triggering the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.
What’s more, women who already have a large waist tend to produce more cortisol in response to stress. Increased cortisol further adds to fat gain around the middle (21).
To help reduce belly fat, engage in pleasurable activities that relieve stress. Practicing yoga or meditation can be effective methods.
Sugar contains fructose, which has been linked to several chronic diseases when consumed in excess.
It’s important to realize that more than just refined sugar can lead to belly fat gain. Even healthier sugars, such as real honey, should be used sparingly.
Aerobic exercise (cardio) is an effective way to improve your health and burn calories.
Studies also show that it’s one of the most effective forms of exercise for reducing belly fat. However, results are mixed as to whether moderate-intensity or high-intensity exercise is more beneficial (27, 28, 29).
In any case, the frequency and duration of your exercise program are more important than its intensity.
One study found that postmenopausal women lost more fat from all areas when they did aerobic exercise for 300 minutes per week, compared to those who exercised 150 minutes per week (30).