Stomach fat only decreases as you decrease your total body fat. A healthy diet to reduce stomach fat limits your intake of comfort foods, such as fast foods, simple carbohydrates and fried foods, but does not eliminate them. If you eliminate your favorite foods, you often feel deprived and fail to stick to your diet plan. However, a diet that allows you to eat them on occasion promotes successful stomach fat loss.
Fats contain more calories per gram than any other nutrient. Saturated fats not only add extra calories to your diet, but they also increase your risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing the cholesterol levels in your blood. The "2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans" published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that the largest portions of saturated fats come from full-fat cheese, pizza, desserts, chicken, sausage, bacon, ribs and franks. Limit your intake of saturated fats by finding the leanest cut of meat possible, removing the skin from poultry before cooking, eating more fish, replacing animal-based proteins with plant based proteins, choosing reduced-fat dairy products and cooking with olive, canola or safflower oils.
Simple carbohydrates, such as refined grains, often contain empty calories and very little fiber. The October 2009 "Journal of Nutrition" reports that people who eat whole grains tend to have a lower percentage of abdominal fat and total body fat than those who eat no whole grains. Whole grains contain fiber, which helps you maintain a feeling of fullness, High-fiber foods often contain fewer calories than low-fiber foods, increasing their effectiveness at reducing belly fat. Common foods made from refined grains include regular pasta, crackers, white bread, donuts, bakery goods and white rice. Stomach fat loss occurs faster when you eat controlled portions of complex carbohydrates such as whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, high-fiber cereals, brown rice and most vegetables.
The amount of sugar in the average American diet increased by 19 percent between the years 1970 and 2005, according to the August 2009 issue of "Circulation," a journal of the American Heart Association. Most of these calories come from liquid sources such as fruit juices, regular soda, energy drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup may increase fat storage in the body, especially in the abdomen, according to a study published in the November 2010 issue of "Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior." While this experiment focused on rats, the results suggest the human bodies may respond in the same manner. Replace drinks and foods flavored with sugars, high-fructose corn syrup or corn sugar with water or other calorie-free drinks to help reduce stomach fat.
Alcoholic drinks add high amounts of calories to your daily intake without giving you many nutrients. Each gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. Alcohol may also increase your desire for food, causing you to eat more for a meal or snack, warns Janet Bond Brill, author and director of nutrition for Fitness Together personal training studios. Limit your intake of alcohol to help control the number of calories you consume and enhance your ability to lose stomach fat. A study in the medical journal "Revista de Saúde Pública" looks at blood donors' lifestyles and percentage of body fat. Researchers confirm that high abdominal fat is associated with high intake of beer and alcohol.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Journal of Nutrition: Whole-Grain Intake And Cereal Fiber Are Associated With Lower Abdominal Obesity In Older Adults
- Circulation: Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health
- Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior: High-Fructose Corn Syrup Causes Characteristics of Obesity in Rats: Increased Body Weight, Body Fat and Triglyceride Levels
- Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, CSSD: Fitness Together: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Revista de Saúde Pública: Alcohol Consumption and Abdominal Fat in Blood Donors