Diet and exercise tips to lose belly fat and gain muscle

  • 2 Minutes Read
Joanna Kriehn
Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

If you want to trim your midsection, then check out these science-backed diet and exercise tips to lose belly fat and gain muscle.

Lose belly fat and gain muscle

Improve your health when you lose belly fat and gain muscle

Everyone has some fat around their middle, yet too much is bad for your health. Excess belly fat increases your chance of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia, and some types of cancers.

Trimming down your waistline

Things you can do now to lose belly fat and gain muscle


While no magic diet plan will erase fat from your middle, some smart choices can set the stage for success.

1. Create a negative energy balance to promote overall weight loss

By eating fewer calories than your body needs (also known as a negative energy balance), you will lose weight. And overall weight loss translates to a smaller waistline in addition to a smaller number on the scale.

2. Eat a balanced diet

Lean protein and fiber are the building blocks of healthy eating that help shed belly fat and gain muscle. Plus, the combination of fiber and lean protein will fill you up without blowing your calorie budget. A balanced diet also includes healthy fats, fresh veggies, and fruit, along with dairy or dairy alternatives. Here’s a great resource to get you started eating a balanced diet for weight loss.

3. Stay hydrated by choosing the right beverages

Water is a natural appetite suppressant, and some people find drinking water before eating helps quench their thirst AND takes up space in their stomachs. When the stomach senses fullness, it sends a signal to the brain to stop eating. Water in your stomach at the start of a meal will help you reach a state of fullness faster, making it easier to eat less.

Drinking water saves calories

If you replace a caloric beverage like juice, soda, or an energy drink with water, you’ll consume fewer calories. This small change could help you lose weight gradually, even if you changed nothing else in your diet.

Drink less alcohol. Yup! We couldn’t forget this one

Did you know that drinking alcohol tends to increase belly fat? Make an effort to imbibe in moderation. If you are truly serious about obtaining flat abs, cut out alcohol completely. Not only will this help shrink your middle, but you’ll sleep better and lose weight throughout your body.

How to fit red wine calories into your diet

Can beer have a place in your weight-loss plan?

Regular exercise helps you lose belly fat and gain muscle

A Duke University study showed that aerobic activity performed 30 minutes a day, four days a week, reduced both surface (subcutaneous) and deep (visceral) belly fat. Resistance training alone only reduced subcutaneous fat.

Examples of aerobic activity include stationary bicycling, jogging, brisk walking, lap swimming, cross-country skiing, and rowing.

To decrease belly fat and improve your health, get your heart rate up consistently every day! If you already do this, then take it to the next level by incorporating some HIIT or high-intensity interval training workouts. HIIT fits the busy person who is short on time. A HIIT workout takes about 20-30 minutes, alternating between high energy expenditures and brief rests. This type of exercise is not suited for everyone as it shoots your heart rate up fast! Make sure to check with your doctor before adding HIIT workouts or any new activity to your routine.

Any activity is better than none

On the other hand, inactivity leads to the greatest collection of visceral fat. Even if you are short on time one week, strive to get in some exercise. Even a little activity builds foundational fitness, and then when you have more time the next week, return to the moderate-to higher-intensity workouts.

At the end of the day, there isn’t one magic diet, pill, or workout to reduce belly fat and improve health. It comes down to making a concerted effort to eat a healthy, calorie-controlled diet, eliminate empty calories (especially from alcohol), and get your heart rate up!

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Weight Loss->Body composition
Jul 14, 2023

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