Okay, you get the point: belly fat = bad. But how do you lose it? You have to think beyond crunches and planks and adopt a well-rounded approach. “It’s got to be more losing fat as a whole,” agrees Chris Gagliardi, a certified personal trainer at the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Without further ado, here are the best ways to lose belly fat once and for all.
You may also know this root veggie as a sunchoke since they're the roots of a type of sunflower. According to a Canadian study, subjects whose diets were supplemented with a type of gut-healthy insoluble fiber called oligofructose not only lost weight but reported less hunger than those who received a placebo. Researchers discovered that the subjects who consumed the prebiotic fiber had higher levels of ghrelin—the hunger-suppressing hormone—and lower levels of blood sugar. And you guessed it: Jerusalem artichokes are one of the best sources of the fiber.
Kickstart your morning—and your metabolism—with this warming spice. Cinnamon contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols that are proven to alter body composition and improve insulin sensitivity (which means it keeps blood sugar stable, preventing hunger-inducing spikes and crashes). Japanese researchers found that mice who ate a daily helping of cinnamaldehyde (the ingredient that gives cinnamon its flavor) lost belly fat, while those who skipped the spice did not. Add it to your overnight oats or sprinkle some in your coffee to reap the benefits.
Red is one of the best colors for weight loss. That's because the color is due to higher levels of nutrients called flavonoids—particularly anthocyanins—which calm the action of fat-storage genes, according to Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity research. In fact, red-bellied stone fruits like plums boast phenolic compounds that have been shown to "turn off" fat genes. Plus, their pectin—a gelatin-like type of fiber found in the cell walls of fruits—limits the amount of fat your cells can absorb, as shown by a Nutrition & Metabolism study.
For women, high levels of body fat can lead to pregnancy problems. The babies of overweight mothers are more likely to be stillborn, born early, and even have brain defects. These women are also at a higher risk of developing diabetes during their pregnancy or having preeclampsia (high blood pressure), which can negatively affect both the baby and mother. Their children are also at a higher risk of being overweight or obese themselves.
The idea that men need supplements to burn fat is a complete myth, according to dietitian Dr. Chris Mohr. Supplements can give you a tiny boost when combined with the right diet and an intense training routine, but no supplement, pill or powder will magically burn belly fat, notes Mohr. Additionally, where you lose fat on your body is determined by genetics, so to lose belly fat, you have to concentrate on losing fat from every area 2.
Apple cider vinegar, in particular, is composed mostly of acetic acid, which has been shown to delay gastric emptying and slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Research published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, Biochemistry found that a small pool of study participants given ACV over a 12-week period lost more weight, body fat and inches from their middle than participants that were given a placebo. How does it work? Besides maintaining stable blood sugar levels, ACV produces proteins inside the body that burn fat.
Although their efficacy and safety are constantly scrutinized by the FDA and other organizations, manufacturers of thermogenic “diet pills” often claim that taking these supplements can help improve weight loss almost effortlessly by boosting your metabolism (the rate at which you burn calories). Some may also be at least somewhat helpful for decreasing your appetite, curbing cravings for junk foods and giving you more energy, which can be used for physical activity.
How could the “fatty” foods mentioned above that contain CLA be good for reducing body fat? The jury is still out regarding the effects of CLA on promoting weight loss, but results from certain studies suggest that CLA (taken either alone or along with supplements like creatine and whey protein) can help increase strength, reduce appetite and cause other beneficial changes in body composition.
Still, it’s a worthy goal to lose belly fat because it’s “unfortunately the most dangerous location to store fat,” says Lawrence Cheskin, M.D., chair of the department of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University and associate professor of health, behavior & society at Johns Hopkins University. Because belly fat—also known as visceral fat, or the deep abdominal fat that surrounds your organs—is more temporary, it circulates throughout the bloodstream more regularly and is therefore likelier to raise the amount of fat in your blood, increasing your blood sugar levels and putting you at a greater risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Known as "forbidden rice" because only emperors were allowed to eat it, black rice may be the cheapest source of antioxidants around. According to the American Chemical Society, black rice has more antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries, with more satiating fiber, more vitamin E, and less sugar. More antioxidants mean less inflammation, which means less fat storage for you.