Losing belly fat is a weight loss goal many men have and struggle with.
The abdominal fat that surrounds your organs beneath the pinchable belly fat is visceral fat.
It’s one harmful type of belly fat that’s known to raise health concerns.
Numerous studies have linked this type of fat to chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
While everyone regardless of body size has belly fat, excess of it leads to abdominal obesity.
For men, the waist circumference above 40 inches or 102 cm is considered excess belly fat.
To measure yours, simply wrap a tape measure around your waist.
If you find your measure above the guideline, your abdominal fat may put your health at risk.
To lose belly fat for good, you need weight loss strategies that also tackle the stubborn fat in your abdominals.
Here are 12 ways to lose belly fat that are backed by science.
Abdominal Fat In Men
When people want to lose weight this is solely based on how they look.
Another may be a better reason, is that excess abdominal fat is associated with health risks.
Also, men and women accumulate extra weight differently, women often have a pear shape with their body fat accumulating in the lower body, the hips, and thighs.
While men are more likely to have an apple shape with abdominal obesity accumulating in the upper body.
The health risks are associated with this unhealthy concentration of belly fat and therefore occur more frequently in men.
Also in contrast to the rest of the body, abdominal obesity consists of two similar types of belly fat, subcutaneous fat, and visceral fat.
Can be found right under the skin of the abdomen and all over the body, this is usually easier to lose.
It is typically identifiable as “love handles”. It is the most noticeable and because of its visibility, the motivator for fat loss (3).
Is found in the abdominal cavity, the fat cells surround the abdominal organs and increase the likelihood of chronic conditions. According to research, health risks increase with visceral fat.
Conditions that can result are cardiovascular disease, diabetes (high blood glucose), heart disease, heart attacks, high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure.
So for health reasons, it’s the visceral fat you want to lose.
For men, the abdomen is recommended to be under 40 inches at the waistline.
An easy way to know if you are under those 40 inches (102 centimeters) is to use a tape measure and measure your waistline.
To measure, use the belly button as a starting point and wrap the tape measure around your body.
The number of your waist circumference is one of many tools used to determine your health risk factor for chronic conditions (3).
Belly Fat in Men
Eating is not the only way belly fat can accumulate. Men can also be affected by their hormones.
Excess weight can place hormones out of balance, visceral fat can interfere with testosterone levels.
Worsening the storage of fat in the belly.
If a person is at a healthy weight they are more likely to have the right amount of testosterone which in turn keeps a healthy overall body fat distribution.
Research suggests that weight loss improves testosterone levels, but it is not known if weight gain leads to lower testosterone.
Levels of estradiol (estrogen) can also increase and further contribute to belly fat (7).
In addition, the stress hormone cortisol can be another contributor to stomach fat.
It is known to increase sugar cravings due to stress, therefore increasing calorie intake.
Being emotionally stressed can also lead to emotional eating.
Cortisol also slows down the metabolism making fat burning more difficult even with food intake adjustments and the best exercises.
An effective way to balance the stress hormones affect of lower metabolic rate, cravings, and increased calorie intake is to learn to relax. Intentional relaxation methods that fit your style can help reduce stress.
Lastly, the starvation hormone is known as leptin and the hunger hormone ghrelin both directly influence your food intake.
Leptin tells your brain when it is full or when you need to eat more, there are studies indicating that some obese people may be resistant to leptin.
Ghrelin increases your appetite, it has been attributed to an increased desire to snack and long-term weight gain.
Also, ghrelin is released more when a person is under stress increases the desire to eat (8).
How to Burn Belly Fat For Men
Though losing belly fat can be difficult, there are several steps you can take to reduce excess abdominal fat.
Below I’ll introduce lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to lose belly fat.
Calories In: Weight Loss Tips For Men
1. Eat plenty of lean protein
Protein intake is important for basic body functions. An average person needs 1.0-1.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight.
This amounts to about 20-30 grams of protein intake per meal.
Protein helps with the making and repairing of tissues and muscles. It also helps with the function of your immune system, cells, a messenger among cells, and the structure of the cells (5).
Protein can be found in animal meat and animal products like eggs, milk, and yogurt.
Animal protein tends to be higher in fat, specifically in forms of high cholesterol.
The best thing to reduce the number of calories you take in from lean protein in animals.
For example, no visible fat in beef in and around the meat or using plant-based proteins.
Plant-based proteins do not have high cholesterol, in fact, the fat tends to be the healthy fat.
it is packed with soluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Good sources of protein can include legumes for example soybeans, tofu, beans, chickpeas, peanuts, and lentils.
Others are quinoa, Ezekiel bread, and buckwheat.
A good idea is to add plant-based protein snacks for the rest of the day, to help manage appetite and provide the entire body with its protein needs because they help with the feeling of fullness, and control the feelings of hunger.
2. Eat more vegetables
Vegetables are considered healthy carbohydrates. Because vegetables are loaded with complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The complex carbohydrates have fewer calories because increased grams of soluble fiber are not digestible, contributing to fewer calories.
The fiber in vegetables increases the balance of sugar from going into your bloodstream. It also improves the digestion of foods and reduces water retention.
Most of us don’t get enough fiber in our meals.
While 24-38 grams of fiber are recommended for adults, the average adult only consumes about 15 grams of fiber.
A good idea to increase fiber is to also add vegetables as snacks, for example, carrots and peanuts butter or asparagus with sprinkled nuts and olive oil.
Vegetables are known to reduce inflammation in the body through antioxidants.
A healthy diet will have a combination of a variety of vegetables, that is the best way to get more dietary fiber in you.
Vegetables that will optimize fat loss are leafy greens:
- Spring mix salad
- Romaine lettuce
- Beet greens
- Other non-leafy vegetables that also help:
- Brussel sprouts
- Starchy Vegetables have carbs and carb intake should be in moderation:
- Sweet Potato
- Green Peas
To note, Legumes are not vegetables but are actually considered a fruit or seed of a plant, and are just as important when making choices.
3. Choose Whole Grains
Another way of increasing fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in the diet, is to add whole grains.
They tend to be unprocessed carbs and the fiber increases the balance of glucose from going into your bloodstream, helps with the feeling of fullness, which helps reduce or maintain your waist size, and blood pressure.
According to research, replacing refined grain with whole grain may be effective in minimizing abdominal obesity and dyslipidemia (10).
This means that you need to reduce your consumption of processed carbohydrates like white rice, white bread, white pasta, fast-cooked oats (loads of sugar added), and any heavily processed pastries like cakes, muffins, pies.
Examples of foods with Whole grains:
4. Supplement with multivitamins
If you feel that you are following a bad diet, consider supplements that contain a variety of vitamins.
They can help you increase your balance when you are struggling to get those veggies and whole fruits in your diet.
Usually, the better choices are supplements made for men.
These supplements come with nutrient recommendations geared for gender-specific needs, and even for age groups.
For example, Calcium requirements for 51-70-year-olds are lower for men at 1000mg than for women at 1200mg. But when older than 71 both genders require the same amount of calcium at 1200mg.
5. Eat more healthy fats
Believe it! You can eat fat. Really you can, you just need to consider consuming healthy fat.
Yes! healthy fat does exist. It is the type of fat known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Usually, it can be found in vegetable oils like canola oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, coconut oil, or olive oil.
But also can be found in animal products, with the healthier fat in fish, eggs, and low-fat cheese and yogurt.
You can also find foods that naturally have fat in them, they tend to have a healthier type of fat and are plant-based.
Plant-based foods with natural fats are avocado, peanuts, seeds, coconuts, edamame, and olives.
6. Cut out sugary drinks and drink healthier beverages
It’s hard to think about, but beverages can be contributors to that belly fat.
Have you ever had cravings for soda or fruit juice? This has a lot to do with the sugar in these drinks that can be addicting.
Sugary drinks, especially when consumed without fiber-rich foods cause your body to be flooded with glucose which your body then converts to fat to get rid of.
It gets rid of it by storing it as belly fat and excess weight throughout your body (4).
Beverages to consider that are low in calories:
- Black coffee
- Water infused with vegetables or fruit.
Beverages that are lower in calories but also contribute proteins, carbs, vitamins, and minerals:
- 1% milk
- Soy drinks
- Oat milk
- Almond milk.
Beverages to avoid, fruit juice, soda, alcoholic beverages.
7. Drink more water
Water needs its own category, besides the fact that it’s low in calories. Water is essential to survive and thrive.
Our bodies are made up of about 70% water, making up our blood, fluids in our cells, and between all of our tissues.
Staying hydrated with water is an effective way for you to be less likely to indulge in sugary drinks.
Water also helps your digestive system with improved digestion.
8. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol consumption is a vice in your weight loss journey. It can easily add excess calories “empty calories” and provide very little to no nutrients.
Although alcohol consumption is a big part of many cultures, moderation is key to control excess fat in the body.
All alcoholic drinks have calories, the higher the consumption the higher the likelihood you will gain stomach fat.
In addition, alcohol disrupts sleeping cycles, not allowing a good amount of hours of sleep. Lack of sleep also contributes to weight gain over time.
Alcohol decreases your inhibitions affecting your judgment, wanting you to choose fatty foods, sugary foods, and sugary drinks (2).
9. Cut out junk foods
Who doesn’t like a burger now and then, the problem is that junk food is addictive.
The more you eat it the more you want it.
They are usually highly processed foods, with added sugars, salt, trans fats, and too much fat.
Trans fats can be found naturally in meat and dairy products, in small amounts.
But when vegetable oil and hydrogen are united under pressure it is cheaper and highly addictive.
Studies now indicate that man-made trans fats are not healthy.
The health benefits of highly processed and sugary foods are limited.
Foods to avoid:
- Simple sugars
- Added sugars
- foods low in nutrients,
- ice cream
- fast food
Calories Out: Weight Loss Tips For Men
Losing that belly fat also requires willpower to include exercising in your daily routine.
The point is that with daily movement, you increase the likelihood of fat loss.
Physical activity goes hand in hand with nutrition, if you consume extra food you can easily use up the energy.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that before starting any fitness program check with your doctor.
If you are a beginner at working out, fear not you are not the first or the last.
Most gyms offer an introductory session with a personal trainer for free.
You can hire a personal trainer to keep you going, or if you are strapped for cash you can also learn some basic exercises online.
Exercises that target specific parts of your body like your abs won’t get rid of much belly fat.
You are better off working your entire body with a variety of body movements for maximum benefit to your body by burning more calories than an ab-focused exercise program.
10. Start with strength training
Strength training helps with fat loss, stronger bones, improved metabolic rate, and reduces risk factors of chronic conditions (1).
According to the Centers for Disease Control, guidelines for strength training are to work out at least twice per week, focusing on major muscle groups (9).
Major muscle groups:
- Torso (Chest and Back muscles)
- Arm and shoulder muscles
- Abdominal muscles
- Lower body (i.e glutes, quads, hamstrings)
Per muscle group try 12-15 repetitions with a weight or resistance heavy enough that make you tired, at the first set of reps.
The best exercise you can practice with strength training:
- Using your own weight, means pushups, pull-ups, planks, knee plank, squats, lunges, Russian twist, crunches, burpees, mountain climber, hips flexors.
- Free weights, barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls, or kettlebell
- Weight Machines, where you can do leg presses, chest presses, seated leg extension
If you are a beginner, using your own weight can be a great way to develop good form.
As you develop good form, it becomes easier to advance to complex workouts.
Increasing weight on your body can further help you with fat loss and gain muscle.
Exercises that include barbells for example:
- Barbell back squats
- Barbell front squat
- Barbell lunges
- Barbell bicep curls
- Barbell bent over row
Working with a set of dumbbells can also be a great way to increase variety, also good for beginners.
Sample exercises with dumbbells:
- Dumbbell squats
- Goblet squats
- Dumbbell incline bench press
- Dumbbell floor press
- Bent Over Dumbbell Rows
You can also use a kettlebell, for example:
- Kettlebell swing single-handed
- Kettlebell swing two hands
- Kettlebell swing changing hands
- Overhead Kettlebell swing
- Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Wood Chop
- Kettlebell slingshot
- Kettlebell halo
- Kettlebell goblet squat
- Kettlebell lunge
The best exercise for strength training is a combination of all of the above, you can even perform these in a circuit.
Making sure you warm up your muscles to prevent injury or lower back problems, with walking or some type of aerobic activity for 10-15 minutes.
Allowing your body to rest a muscle group for a whole day before exercising it again.
Doing a combination of 12-15 reps on each exercise will help you create constant challenges for your body.
Even with extra pounds on you, and as a beginner being consistent is key to reaching a healthy weight that will also target the type of belly fat you want to lose.
11. Increase Your Cardio
Most people like cardio and often find it more fun, and easy to add into a daily routine.
They’re one of the best types of exercises to lose belly fat for men.
It is recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week, per the Centers for Disease Control (9).
You can spread these minutes throughout the day or the week.
Examples of the best calorie-burning cardio exercises:
- Circuit training-leg raises, leg lifts, jump rope, brisk walk
- Walking on a treadmill
- Doing a low-intensity long run
- Using a Jump rope
- Doing Jumping Jacks
- Hips circles
Your heart rate will increase with aerobic exercise, you will be closer to cardiovascular fitness.
But keep in mind this will not target your abs or any other major muscle group, it will help you have overall wellness.
12. Engage in HIIT (high-intensity interval training)
If you are interested in being at a higher level of aerobic exercise, HIIT workouts are an upgrade.
The name itself tells you that the intensity is higher and requires explosive power from your body.
These types of workouts tend to push you out of your comfort zone, the workouts are intense paired with seconds of rest of the recovery period, followed by another set of high-intensity exercises.
You will experience increased heart rate, fat loss, an increase in muscle mass in your torso (chest and back muscles), lower body (glutes, thighs, and hips), and Improved metabolism.
The coolest thing is that you will continue to burn calories for 2 hours after you do high-intensity interval training.
Exercises that you can do with HIIT:
- Mountain Climber
- Jumping Jacks
General tip: A twist to a high-intensity exercise, add weight training for extra strength and best results.
If you need a lower impact high-intensity exercise, you can use an elliptical machine, the rowing machine.
The Bottom Line
It’s very possible to lose that beer belly, you need to keep in mind that the best way to do it is with hard work.
I’m sorry to say there is no magic pill, no fad diet, or exercise that targets the areas of the body where you want fat loss (like endless abdominal exercises).
If you consume excess calories than your body needs, expect fat storage.
The good news is that when you decide to lead a healthy lifestyle you will eat healthy foods, incorporate effective workouts, obtain adequate sleep and it will get easier to lose abdominal fat.
The first thing you will notice is cardiovascular fitness, less stress, improved waist measurement, this is a great place to be.
The more amount of time you dedicate your metabolism will improve, your body will have less inflammation, your appetite will be controlled, and that excess belly fat will start to shrink.
Abdominal Fat comes with health risks and if your genetics indicate risk factors for obesity, imbalanced levels of insulin your chance of developing a variety of health problems increases.
The best thing you can do to lose abdominal fat is to make small changes like improving your nutrition and really invest in your physical activity.
A Registered Dietitian, nutritionist, healthcare provider, and Personal trainer are the professionals that can guide you in the right direction, provide feedback, and help you level up to your next goals.
- Borg, P, et al. “Effects of Walking or Resistance Training on Weight Loss Maintenance in Obese, Middle-Aged Men: A Randomized Trial.” International Journal of Obesity, vol. 26, no. 5, 2002, pp. 676–683., doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0801962.
- “Facts about Moderate Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Dec. 2020, www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm.
- Fukuda, Tatsuya, et al. “Ratio of Visceral-to-Subcutaneous Fat Area Predicts Cardiovascular Events in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.” Journal of Diabetes Investigation, vol. 9, no. 2, 2017, pp. 396–402., doi:10.1111/jdi.12713.
- “Get the Facts: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Consumption.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Mar. 2021, www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/sugar-sweetened-beverages-intake.html.
- Hruby, Adela, and Paul F Jacques. “Dietary Protein and Changes in Markers Of Cardiometabolic Health across 20 Years of Follow-up in Middle-Aged Americans.” Public Health Nutrition, vol. 21, no. 16, 2018, pp. 2998–3010., doi:10.1017/s1368980018001854.
- Håkonsen, Linn Berger, et al. “Does Weight Loss Improve Semen Quality and Reproductive Hormones? Results from a Cohort of Severely Obese Men.” Reproductive Health, vol. 8, no. 1, 2011, doi:10.1186/1742-4755-8-24.
- “The Impact of Body Mass Index on Reproductive Hormones, Testosterone/Estradiol Ratio and Semen Parameters.” Central European Journal of Urology, 2020, doi:10.5173/ceju.2020.0020.
- Klok, M. D., et al. “The Role of Leptin and Ghrelin in the Regulation of Food Intake and Body Weight in Humans: A Review.” Obesity Reviews, vol. 8, no. 1, 2007, pp. 21–34., doi:10.1111/j.1467-789x.2006.00270.x.
- “Physical Activity Recommendations for Different Age Groups.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 July 2021, www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/age-chart.html.
- Sawicki, Caleigh M, et al. “Whole- and Refined-Grain Consumption and Longitudinal Changes in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in the Framingham OFFSPRING COHORT.” The Journal of Nutrition, 2021, doi:10.1093/jn/nxab177.