Whether you’re looking to improve your overall health or simply slim down for summer, burning off excess fat can be quite challenging.
Diet and exercise are not the only factors that influence weight and fat loss.
Luckily, there are plenty of simple steps you can take to increase fat burning, quickly and easily.
Here are 10 of the best ways to lose belly fat quickly.
1. More Protein
Including more protein-rich foods in your diet is an effective way to reduce your appetite and burn more fat.
In fact, multiple studies have found that eating more high-quality protein is associated with a lower risk of belly fat.
One study also showed that a high-protein diet can help preserve muscle mass and metabolism during weight loss.
Upping your protein intake may also increase feelings of fullness, decrease appetite and reduce calorie intake to aid in weight loss.
Try incorporating a few servings of high-protein foods into your diet each day to help amp up fat burning.
Some examples of protein-rich foods include meat, seafood, eggs, legumes and dairy products.
2. Less Alcohol
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.
Observational studies link heavy alcohol consumption to a significantly increased risk of central obesity — that is, excess fat storage around the waist.
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.
3. Less Stress
Stress can make you gain belly fat by triggering the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.
Research shows that high cortisol levels increase appetite and drive abdominal fat storage.
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.
To help reduce belly fat, engage in pleasurable activities that relieve stress. Practicing yoga or meditation can be effective methods.
4. More Sleep
Going to bed a bit earlier or setting your alarm clock a little later can help boost fat burning and prevent weight gain.
Several studies have found an association between getting enough sleep and weight loss.
One study of 68,183 women showed that those who slept five or fewer hours per night over a period of 16 years were more likely to gain weight than those who slept for longer than seven hours per night.
Another study showed that better sleep quality and getting at least seven hours of sleep per night increased the likelihood of successful weight loss by 33% in 245 women enrolled in a six-month weight loss program.
Other research shows that a lack of sleep may contribute to alterations in hunger hormones, increased appetite and a higher risk of obesity.
Although everyone needs a different amount of sleep, most studies have found that getting at least seven hours of sleep per night is associated with the most benefits when it comes to body weight.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule, limit your intake of caffeine and minimize your use of electronic devices before bed to help support a healthy sleep cycle.
5. More Fiber
Soluble fiber absorbs water and moves through the digestive tract slowly, helping you feel fuller for longer.
According to some studies, increasing your intake of high-fiber foods may protect against weight gain and fat accumulation.
One study of 1,114 adults found that for each 10-gram increase in soluble fiber intake per day, participants lost 3.7% of their belly fat over a five-year period, even without any other changes in diet or exercise.
Another review also found that increasing fiber intake promoted feelings of fullness and decreased hunger. In fact, an increase of 14 grams of fiber per day was associated with a 10% decrease in calorie intake.
Not only that, but it was also linked to nearly 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of weight loss over a four-month period.
Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds are a few examples of high-fiber foods that can boost fat burning and weight loss.
6. Less Refined Carbs
Decreasing your intake of refined carbohydrates may help you lose extra fat.
During processing, refined grains are stripped of their bran and germ, resulting in a final product that’s low in fiber and nutrients.
Refined carbs also tend to have a higher glycemic index, which can cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, resulting in increased hunger.
Studies show that a diet high in refined carbs may be associated with increased belly fat.
Conversely, a diet high in whole grains has been associated with a lower body mass index and body weight, plus a smaller waist circumference.
7. More Probiotics
Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria found in your digestive tract that have been shown to improve many aspects of health.
In fact, the bacteria in your gut have been shown to play a role in everything from immunity to mental health.
Increasing your intake of probiotics through either food or supplements may also help rev up fat burning and keep your weight under control.
Certain strains of probiotics in the genus Lactobacillus may be especially effective at aiding weight and fat loss.
Taking supplements is a quick and easy way to get in a concentrated dose of probiotics every day.
Alternatively, you can try adding some probiotic-rich foods to your diets, such as kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
8. Less Fruit Juice
Although fruit juice provides vitamins and minerals, it's just as high in sugar as soda and other sweetened beverages.
Drinking large amounts may carry the same risk of abdominal fat gain.
An 8-ounce (240-ml) serving of unsweetened apple juice contains 24 grams of sugar, half of which is fructose.
To help reduce excess belly fat, replace fruit juice with water, unsweetened iced tea or sparkling water with a wedge of lemon or lime.
9. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has recently become very popular for weight loss.
It’s an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and periods of fasting.
One popular method involves 24-hour fasts once or twice a week. Another consists of fasting every day for 16 hours and eating all your food within an 8 hour period.
In a review of studies on intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting, people experienced a 4–7% decrease in abdominal fat within 6–24 weeks.
Cardio, also known as aerobic exercise, is one of the most common forms of exercise and is defined as any type of exercise that specifically trains the heart and lungs.
Adding cardio to your routine may be one of the most effective ways to enhance fat burning.
For example, one review of 16 studies found that the more aerobic exercise people got, the more belly fat they lost.
Other studies have found that aerobic exercise can increase muscle mass and decrease belly fat, waist circumference and body fat.
Most research recommends between 150–300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise weekly, or roughly 20–40 minutes of cardio each day.
Running, walking, cycling and swimming are just a few examples of some cardio exercises that can help burn fat and kick-start weight loss.