The Best Eating Habits for Faster Belly Fat Loss, Experts Say – Eat This, Not That

If you caught the headline, you’ll love what Steve Theunissen, RDN, has to say about the key eating practices to achieve a flatter stomach. He says: You should enjoy what you eat, it shouldn’t cost you more than you can affordand It should be a plan simple enough to follow throughout your life.

“Instead of going on a diet, try changing your eating habits,” says Theunissen, owner of Smart Fitness Results.

Oh, and Theunissen wants to clarify that it specifically targets belly fat. You can not.

“When you reduce fat, it’s removed from all parts of your body, not just your stomach,” he says. “Your thighs, arms, waist and even your face will show the effects of fat loss.”

If you’re looking for quick results, “I would highly recommend intermittent fasting,” he says. With intermittent fasting, eating is limited to a specific time window. “It cuts tremendous amounts of fat from all parts of your body, including your stomach.”

In the meantime, experts say you can try these other habits to tighten your belt quickly. Then read on for details on how fasting can help you lose weight.

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Recent research has challenged the long-held belief that eating breakfast is a reliable weight-loss strategy. However, many nutrition experts still advise their clients not to skip the morning meal but to focus on healthy foods that promote weight loss.

“It’s not just about getting enough calories, it’s also about getting the right kind,” says Reda Elmardi, RD, a board-certified strength and conditioning specialist for The Gym Goat. “Studies have shown that people who eat a high-fiber breakfast tend to have a lower BMI (body mass index) than people who skip breakfast.”

Make a habit of eating high-fiber cereal or warm oatmeal—both are good sources of fiber.

Another food that fights belly fat is protein. A 2020 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health compared two common breakfast types: eggs and toast versus muesli with bran, sugar, milk, and orange juice. Both types of breakfast were consumed by the same group of 50 overweight but healthy subjects on two different days.

The researchers found that the high-protein breakfast egg improved post-meal satiety. Participants ate less food after breakfast with eggs for lunch and dinner than after the sugary breakfast cereal meal.

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One of the most effective ways to get rid of belly fat is to make it a habit to eat to satisfy hunger, not out of habit, eating because you’re anxious or depressed, or eating because you actually are not hungry but thirsty.

“Approximately 75% of people have a confused thirst and hunger mechanism,” says Bess Berger, RDN, who specializes in women struggling with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at Nutrition by Bess. “This means that sometimes when they think they’re hungry, they’re really just thirsty, but they end up eating more. If we make sure we’re adequately hydrated, we can end up consuming less when we’re actually hungry.”

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When you prepare your own meals at home, you should automatically eat healthier, since restaurant meals are usually very high in extra calories, carbohydrates, fat and sodium – all nouns synonymous with unhealthy eating. Cooking is a natural way of preparing food with more awareness. And it’s easier to get used to avoiding unhealthy fats like refined oils, junk food, chips, cookies, and other pre-packaged snacks that are loaded with preservatives, says Theunissen.

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It’s not an eating habit per se, but it affects your eating habits. If you make a habit of avoiding drinking alcohol on a daily basis, you can reduce belly fat significantly.

Why? “Consistently drinking beer, wine, or cocktails causes the alcohol to be absorbed and quickly converted into fat, which tends to lodge in the abdomen,” says Juliana Tamayo, a nutritionist at FitnessClone.

When you drink alcohol, not only do you get calories from the drink, but you often also consume higher-energy foods like pizza, fries, buffalo wings, and cheeseburgers. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, pay attention to the number of calories you consume from beverages. They can be sneaky. Instead, make it a habit to choose water, fruit-infused water, and unsweetened iced tea for your zero-calorie beverages.

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David Brendan, RDN and a certified personal trainer at StartRowing, is another proponent of intermittent fasting to accelerate fat loss. He recommends a 16-hour fast and resistance training at the end, anywhere between the 13th and 16th hour of the fast before eating. This habit will speed up fat burning, he says. After the fasting and training session, your body is ready to use that fuel.

“You also need to stay hydrated with water until your urine is clear,” he says.

Proper hydration is critical to a properly functioning body, which includes burning fat efficiently.

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Everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for another when it comes to losing weight. But a few things are consistent across the board, says Johna Burdeos, RD, LC, CNSC.

“For weight loss, slow and steady and setting realistic goals wins the race,” says Burdeos.

Since so many of us need help sticking to a plan, she says working with a nutritionist might be your best bet.

“Work with a registered dietitian who will work with you to create a customized eating plan that you can live with long-term,” she says.

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You’ve heard this advice umpteen times, but do you stick to it? Find out the next time you sit down to a meal and check your plate. Does it resemble Monet’s Artist’s Garden at Argenteuil? In other words, is it full of color?

“Half of your plate should be filled with nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables,” says Burdeos. These foods, along with nuts, should also be your primary snacks. “They confer many important health benefits whether you’re trying to lose weight or not.”

Because fruits and vegetables are typically low in calories, they reduce or prevent you from consuming extra calories between meals that are normally stored as fat deposits, says Dr. Daniel Boyer of the Farr Institute, a research organization that supports public health.

“In addition, eating foods that boost metabolism, such as mineral-dense foods, ginger, and legumes, can also create a calorie deficit, an important factor needed for proper weight control,” says Boyer.

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When you make a habit of adding non-starchy vegetables to every meal and snack you eat, you automatically increase your fiber intake and lose body fat, says Blanca Garcia, RDN, a registered dietitian with HealthCanal. “Dietary fiber is a complex carbohydrate that is not digested and not absorbed; they act like the broom of the gut,” she says. “This allows your body not to absorb all of the available carbohydrates, proteins and fats that can contribute to abdominal weight.”

Fiber also contributes to a healthy bacterial diversity in the gut, which reduces inflammation and fights obesity. If you think it’s difficult to add more fiber to your daily diet, you haven’t read our story Popular Foods Containing More Fiber Than Oatmeal.

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