Excess abdominal fat, especially of the visceral kind, has been linked to a range of health issues including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Unfortunately, the important task of shifting it can be a struggle.
Kari D. Pilolla, lead author and assistant professor of Nutrition at the California Polytechnic State University, highlights the lack of high-quality evidence for the belly fat burning benefits of diets like intermittent fasting, high-protein diets and the paleo diet.
But don’t despair, there are some eating habits that have been found to be help. Research shows that reducing the intake of trans and saturated fat while increasing consumption of fibre is associated with lower stomach fat.
“Thus, a great start to preventing and reducing abdominal obesity is to follow a diet that encourages foods high in fibre such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains and limits foods high in trans and saturated fats, such as fatty meats, baked goods, and highly processed foods,” Kari writes.
"These recommendations are consistent with heart-healthy diets like the NIH-developed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and the Mediterranean-style diet.”
Aside from fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains, the DASH diet also focuses on low-fat dairy, lean meats and heart healthy fats. The Mediterranean diet is high in fish and seafood, with a moderate amount of olive oil, poultry, eggs, cheese, yoghurt and red wine.
The biggest takeaway here? Kari says that evidence-based options are your best bet and chatting to a registered dietitian has major benefits in preventing “unintended nutrient deficiencies and toxicities from poorly designed diets or inclusion of special supplements.”