If you have concerns about your midsection, you may be tempted to try things like a tiny waist flat stomach diet or the skinny waist big booty diet. Unfortunately, that's not quite how weight loss works.
Despite what many diets claim, you don't get to pick and choose where you drop the weight by eating certain foods. When you lose fat, it comes from all over your body, not one particular area. But what you eat can support your efforts for a smaller waist, and an overall smaller you. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
Subcutaneous Fat Versus Visceral Fat
Your belly is home to two types of fat, subcutaneous and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the squishy fat found underneath your skin that you can pinch. This type of fat is also found on your hips, thighs, arms and any other part of your body that accumulates fat.
Visceral fat is found only in the deep cavity of your abdominal region, surrounding many of your vital organs, including your liver, pancreas and intestines. You can't feel visceral fat like you can subcutaneous fat, but it can become visible when you gain weight, turning your slimmer figure into more of an apple shape.
While extra fat anywhere on your body isn't good for your health, visceral fat is especially harmful. This type of fat pumps out immune-system chemicals that are bad for your heart, according to Harvard Health. It also alters hormone balance and function and may play a role in the development of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.
Where your body accumulates fat depends on many factors, including your genetics and hormones. While you can lose both subcutaneous and visceral fat with diet and exercise, your body may lose greater amounts of subcutaneous fat than visceral fat, according to a February 2017 meta-analysis and critical review published in the International Journal of Obesity. What does this mean? It may be harder to slim down your waist than other parts of your body.
Cut Calories to Lose Fat
Your slim waist diet plan may have you convinced that it's the combination of foods that helps trim your midsection, but it really works by helping you cut calories. This is true for all weight-loss plans, whether it's the fad diet that helped your friend lose 20 pounds or a healthy, balanced weight-loss plan created by a registered dietitian. Weight loss always comes down to calories.
To get a slimmer figure you need to create a negative calorie balance by eating less, moving more or both. It's generally believed that 1 pound of fat contains 3,500 calories.
To lose 1 pound a week, you need to create a daily 500-calorie deficit. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the best way to accomplish this deficit is by splitting the difference between diet and exercise. That means you reduce your daily intake by 250 calories and increase your activity to burn 250 calories.
You can easily shave calories from your usual intake by making a few changes here and there. MedlinePlus recommends upgrading to healthier snacks, such as air-popped popcorn instead of chips, drinking black coffee instead of a high-calorie coffee drink and saying no to seconds.
Calorie burning during exercise depends on the type of activity you engage in and your body size. For example, a 185-pound person can burn 300 calories in 45 minutes walking at a moderate pace of 4 miles per hour (15 minutes per mile).
Small Waist Diet Plan
While calories are important when it comes to trimming down your waist size, the types of food you eat matters too. According to the Mayo Clinic, your small waist diet plan should be more of a plant-based diet, with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Lean sources of protein, low-fat dairy foods and moderate amounts of healthy fats should round out your diet plan.
Fill your slim waist diet with foods such as:
- Fruits: berries, apples, bananas, oranges, pears
- Vegetables: leafy greens, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots
- Whole grains: whole-wheat bread, quinoa, oats, brown rice
- Lean protein: poultry, fish, lean red meat, legumes
- Low-fat dairy: low-fat or nonfat milk or yogurt
- Healthy fats: olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado
For better health and a slimmer waist, you also want to limit foods with added sugar, such as cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy and other sweet treats on your small waist diet plan. Foods high in saturated fat, including marbled red meat and high-fat dairy, should also be limited.
Add Aerobic Exercise
Exercise is a very important part of your weight-loss equation, but it's especially important when it comes to losing belly fat, according to Harvard Health. To slim down your waist and improve your health, Harvard Health recommends 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise most days of the week.
You don't need to join a fancy gym to get in the aerobic activity. Your moderate-paced 4 mile per hour walk is considered a moderate-intensity aerobic workout. You can also burn calories and slim down your waist with heavy cleaning around the house, such as vacuuming or mopping. Or for something more recreational, consider a game of doubles tennis or badminton.
Tone Your Muscles
Doing 5,000 crunches every night isn't going to speed up the fat loss around your waist, but it can help tone the muscles under your fat. But you don't want to limit your muscle-building activity to just your abs. Harvard Health says that strength training can support belly-fat loss.
To round out your slim waist diet plan, work out all your major muscle groups (legs, hips, abs, back, shoulders and arms) at least twice a week. Your strength training may include free weights, body resistance exercises, weight machines or use of a resistance band.
In addition to improving tone and shape, adding more muscle to your frame also increases your metabolism so you burn more calories, which may help you maintain your weight loss. Strength training also makes your bones stronger, improves your quality of life and sharpens your thinking skills, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It"
- International Journal of Obesity: "Subcutaneous Fat Loss Is Greater Than Visceral Fat Loss With Diet and Exercise, Weight-Loss Promoting Drugs and Bariatric Surgery: A Critical Review and Meta-Analysis"
- American Academy of Family Physicians: "What It Takes to Lose Weight"
- MedlinePlus: "10 Ways to Cut 500 Calories a Day"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes For People of Three Different Weights"
- Mayo Clinic: "Belly Fat in Women: Taking — and Keeping — It Off"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Examples of Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activity"
- Mayo Clinic: "Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier"