A higher intake of fiber and lower intake of saturated fats can help to lower belly fat, new research concludes.
Belly fat is the fat that surrounds the vital organs, deep in the belly.
Unfortunately, there is no miracle food that can reduce belly fat on its own.
However, eating a heart-healthy diet high in fibre can help to reduce abdominal fat.
Soluble fibre, such as that in fruit and vegetables, turns to a gel during digestion.
This helps people feel more full and may also lower blood sugar levels and help bowel movements.
Dr Kari D. Pilolla, the study’s author, writes:
“…research has shown that dietary trans and saturated fats are positively associated with abdominal obesity, whereas fiber, especially soluble, is negatively associated.
Thus, a great start to preventing and reducing abdominal obesity is to follow a diet that encourages foods high
in fiber 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.”
Over 50 percent of Americans are thought to be abdominally obese.
High levels of belly fat are linked to fatty diabetes, liver disease and high blood pressure.
Abdominal obesity raises the risks of a variety of disease, said Dr Pilolla:
“Independent of body weight, a larger waist circumference increases risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
In fact, it has been estimated that approximately 84% of people with abdominal obesity are metabolically
The study compared the evidence for a variety of different diets, including the ‘paleo’ diet, intermittent fasting and those involving green tea.
The best evidence that is currently available in terms of fighting obesity supports two diets:
- the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet,
- and a Mediterranean-style diet.
Here are ten typical ingredients of the MedDiet:
- Green leafy vegetables,
- other vegetables,
- whole grains,
- olive oil
- and wine.
The MedDiet also has relatively little red meat, little dairy and uses olive oil as the largest source of fat.
The DASH diet is reasonably straightforward and involves eating lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
It also includes:
- fat-free or low-fat dairy products,
- and vegetable oils.
It recommends limiting intake of sugar, fatty meats, full-fat dairy, palm oil and foods high in saturated fats.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal. (Pilolla et al., 2018).