Three Quick Lifestyle Changes That Can Help You Reduce Belly Fat

Looking to get rid of your belly fat but don’t know where to begin?

Simple changes in your everyday life can help cut belly fat “and it doesn’t have to include doing 500 sit ups every morning,” David Mason, a qualified personal trainer in the U.K. who is a licensed speed, agility and quickness (SAQ) coach from Barbells Abroad, a fitness advice website, told Newsweek.

Fat buildup around the belly should not be ignored as it can have some serious health consequences, such as a higher risk of early death, according to a study published in September 2020 in The BMJ, a peer-reviewed journal.

The study found that excess fat around the waist area is “significantly associated” with an increased risk of premature death from any cause.

Newsweek spoke to fitness experts who shared three easy ways to help reduce belly fat.

Person holding tape measure around waist area.
A stock image of a person hold a tape measure around their waist area. Fat buildup around the belly can have some serious health consequences, such as a higher risk of early death, according to a September 2020 study published in The BMJ, a peer-reviewed journal.
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Three Simple Ways To Help Reduce Belly Fat

Stand Up

People across the country have become more sedentary in recent years, with more working from home or spending more time in the house since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Simply standing up can be an “instant” way to improve your health, Mason said, as “it’s proven that by standing more often your body burns more calories.”

A January 2018 study published in the peer-reviewed European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that “by substituting sitting with standing for six hours/day, a 65 kg [around 143 lbs.] person will expend an additional 54 kcal/day.”

“Assuming no increase in energy intake, this difference in energy expenditure would be translated into the energy content of about 2.5 kg [around 5.5 lbs] of body fat mass in 1 year,” the study said.

Mason explained that “if you’re working at a standing desk, rather than sitting for hours at a time, then this is an instant improvement.”

The personal trainer noted that adding a little movement while you’re sending an email or on a Zoom call is “even better.” This can entail discreetly walking on the spot or tapping your feet from side to side “to get your blood flowing slightly quicker,” he said.

Woman using a standing desk during call.
A stock image of a woman using a standing desk while participating in a video conference call. Simply standing up during your work day at the office or at home can be an “instant” way to improve your health status because “it’s proven that by standing more often your body burns more calories,” a personal trainer told Newsweek.
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Eat Less Sugar, More Protein

Another simple way to start shaving off belly fat is to reduce your sugar intake.

Tiffany Hamlin, a senior director of global fitness and technology for World Gym, the fitness chain, told Newsweek: “Ever heard of the saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen?’ Consuming excess sugar, especially in the form of refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and pastries, can contribute to belly fat.”

Hamlin said you can start by cutting down sugary drinks. “You may be surprised by how much sugar you are drinking” if you check the nutrition labels. She advised sticking to zero or low sugar drink alternatives.

Plastic bottles of carbonated drinks.
A stock image of several plastic bottles of carbonated drinks. Consuming excess sugar, including in the form of sugar drinks, can contribute to belly fat.
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While reducing sugar, aim to eat more protein, Mason said. This can include nuts, lean meat, eggs, beans and lentils, as well as fish and dairy products.

He explained: “By allocating 30 percent of your daily calories to foods that are high in protein you should find your cravings are reduced and metabolism increased.”

According to Mason, those who “eat better quality protein tend to have less belly fat and don’t put on weight as fast as those that don’t have a high protein diet.”

Spread of different healthy protein sources.
A stock image of a spread of different sources of protein, including beef, salmon, chicken, nuts, eggs, cheese and milk. Those who “eat better quality protein tend to have less belly fat,” a personal trainer told Newsweek.
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Reduce Stress

There are various simple ways to help cut down on stress, from walking to sleeping more, Holly Roser, a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified personal trainer based in California, told Newsweek.

Roser explained: “Stress releases cortisol [an essential hormone that regulates your body’s response to stress, the ‘fight or flight’ response], which is stored in the abdominal area.”

To help lower stress, the personal trainer advised working out at least three days a week, going for a walk, dancing or doing deep breathing exercises. She said you’ll want to aim for seven to eight hours of sleep every night to help decrease cortisol levels.

“Not only will you feel better throughout the day, but you’ll notice your belly fat reducing over time,” Roser said.

Man at park, breathing, smiling under sun.
A stock image of a man standing outdoors in a park with his eyes closed, while appearing to take a deep breath. Going for walks and doing breathing exercises are some simple ways to reduce stress, which contributes to belly fat.
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