People store body fat in many ways, and the lower belly is usually where fat accumulates. Lifestyle, diet, and genetics can affect the way you store fat.
A nutritionist or doctor can help you create a personalized plan to help you lose belly fat.
This article looks at exercises and types of food that might help you to lose belly fat, why for some people, weight loss in the lower belly is more difficult, and when to contact a doctor.
Many exercises can help you get rid of lower belly fat, including high intensity exercises and abdominal workouts. Here is a list of some exercises:
High intensity interval training
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is linked to weight loss. A 2018 study found that people who perform HIIT three times a week have similar results as people who do a daily 30-minute session of moderate cardio exercise.
After a year, people who practiced HIIT regularly experienced weight loss and body fat reduction, according to the study.
HIIT exercise can consist of working out your body as hard as you can for short periods, such as 45 seconds, resting, and repeating. Exercise can include a circuit of:
- pedaling fast on a bike
The circuit should include regular rest periods. Try resting for 5 minutes in between each test.
Moderate physical activity
Performing moderate physical exercise is another method to help reduce fat. This may be more sustainable than HIIT exercises for people who are just beginning their workout journey or have physical restrictions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers several examples of moderate physical activity and the calories they burn after 30 minutes for a 154-pound person:
Exercises that target the abs
Exercises that target the abs will not necessarily help you lose body fat more quickly. Reducing the calories you eat and increasing the calories you burn will help.
Still, exercising can make your stomach appear more toned. This can be the case even with lower belly fat over the abdominal muscles, though they will be more visible if you lose excess fat.
No food specifically targets lower belly fat. However, gradually reducing your overall caloric intake will help you lose excess fat, including your lower belly.
Here are some foods and diet tips that may help.
Avoiding foods high in saturated fat and choosing low fat alternatives can be a healthy and effective way to lose weight.
Some healthier swaps can include:
Numerous studies show that the Mediterranean diet is useful for weight loss and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The Mediterranean diet includes a high intake of:
- healthy fats
- dairy products
The Mediterranean diet involves little red meat.
A 2021 report recommends avoiding very low calorie diets, such as eating less than 800 calories daily. Calories this low is not effective for weight loss and can be dangerous.
In addition, use caution when choosing meal replacement foods, including soups, milkshakes, and bars. Many can cause people to underestimate or overestimate the calories in these foods. Meal replacements may not be successful for long-term weight loss.
Causes of lower belly fat vary and, in most cases, are related to lifestyle. However, some people may develop belly fat more easily because of genetics.
Causes of lower belly fat include:
- An unhealthy diet: Sugars and trans fats in soft drinks, fast food products, and processed food can cause weight gain and alter your metabolism and ability to burn fats.
- Drinking too much alcohol: A 2015 report found that drinking an excessive amount of alcohol causes weight gain, in particular in people assigned male at birth.
- Stress: When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol. Cortisol impacts your metabolism, causing any excess calories you may eat when you are stressed to remain in your body for later usage. Being stressed can also result in poor sleep quality. Being awake for longer hours may cause you to eat more food than usual.
- Lack of exercise: A lack of exercise or movement can result in weight gain, particularly if your caloric intake is higher than what you burn during your day.
- Smoking: A 2018 study found that smoking in people assigned male at birth reduces testosterone levels. This can cause an increase in visceral fat mass (belly fat).
- Genetics: Some people may have genes that put them at a higher risk of developing belly fat and obesity.
The primary reason it’s hard to lose belly fat is due to the fat cell receptors in the stomach. There are two types of receptors: alpha receptors, which slow fat breakdown, and beta receptors, which make it quicker.
The fat cells around our stomachs are rich in alpha receptors, so it’s more difficult to get rid of them. This is also why when a person begins a fat loss program. They usually show results in their face and arms before losing belly fat.
Exercise and healthy eating after having a baby may help to reduce lower belly fat.
Also, contact your doctor for nutritional advice after pregnancy. They can recommend a dietitian who can advise you about the nutrients you need, particularly if you’re nursing.
Menopause is a natural part of aging. During menopause, your hormones change, such as the decrease in estrogen levels. This can cause an increased amount of overall body fat.
To reduce lower belly fat after menopause, you will need to reduce your fat levels by burning more calories than you consume. You can achieve this through a balance of exercise and dietary changes.
Find out more about how to lose menopause belly weight.
Diet and exercise can help you burn more calories than you consume, which can lead to the loss of excess fat, including on the lower belly.
One 2019 review found that increasing older adults’ protein intake is crucial to weight management.
Some older adults may find exercise can be harder due to certain conditions. Contact a doctor for advice on how to lose weight as safely as possible.
Although excess fat loss, including lower belly fat, is possible through gentle and gradual lifestyle changes, some people find it beneficial to talk with a doctor or dietitian for additional support.
Always contact a doctor before making significant lifestyle changes, especially if you have an underlying condition. Never take any new medications or supplements without consulting your doctor first.
Following a healthy, balanced diet combined with exercise can help you lose lower belly fat. However, because people usually begin losing fat reserves first from other parts of their bodies, it may take time to see overall results.
Before making any major lifestyle changes or if you have any underlying conditions, contact your doctor to discuss the best ways to lose weight.