We all have some amount of fat on our stomachs, but if excess upper belly fat seems to keep hanging on despite your best efforts, there are ways to get rid of it.

If you’re ready to blast that upper belly fat for good, here’s the healthiest way to reduce your body fat and feel healthy AF!

Look at your belly. That region above your belly button is your “upper belly,” and below your belly button is your “lower belly.”

There are many factors that can cause fat to accumulate in your upper belly, but the majority of it boils down to eating more calories than your body needs. Other factors can include:

As nice as it would be to target specific areas of our bodies to lose fat, in reality, it’s just not possible. You can do movements and exercises that strengthen specific muscles of your body, but fat loss will occur throughout your whole body when you implement healthy habits.

Our overall health depends on the food that we put into our bodies. Calories and nutrients help our bodies function and can determine how much body fat we carry.

Here are a few dietary changes you can add to your routine to help you get rid of upper belly fat (and really body fat in general).

Cut your calories

Too many calories in and not enough out makes your body store the extra as fat. For example, 1 pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories. Therefore, 3,500 fewer calories will help you lose that 1 pound.

Split that 3,500 calories throughout the week by eliminating about 500 calories each day from your typical diet. That would help you lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week, which is a safe amount of weight loss.

Counting calories is annoying and can be flawed. So, if you’re not into counting calories, you can easily trim them off by eating more fruits and veggies.

Watch out for sodium

Have you ever had a big burrito bowl, and then felt completely bloated afterward? Shout out to sodium, dehydration, and a lack of electrolytes that can make our body cling on to water.

When you eat a diet that’s lower in sodium, your body won’t retain as much water, making it easier to lose belly fat.

Eat more fiber

High fiber foods can be more filling than low fiber foods, plus they usually contain fewer calories, which can aid in weight loss since you’ll get full with a smaller amount.

One study found that fiber supplementation reduced participants’ body weight, BMI, and reduced eating frequency.

Men under the age of 50 should be aiming to eat around 38 grams of fiber each day while women under 50 should strive for 25 grams daily.

Take it slow when adding additional fiber into your daily diet. Too much too soon, can create stomach issues (and a lot of 💩).

Avoid white starches and sugary drinks

Soft drinks, white bread, and other refined sugar and carbohydrate products aren’t doing you any good in your fat loss journey.

These products are considered “simple carbohydrates” that digest quickly, making your blood sugar spike. You’ll feel hungry again, shortly after a meal of simple carbs.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have bread, pasta, or other grain-based foods (treat ‘yo self). When you’re in the mood for a bowl of noodles, look for whole-grain options. They contain more fiber to keep you fuller longer.

Drink more water

Such an underrated part of weight loss, but oh so important. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, up to 60 percent of our bodies are made of water. While intake can vary from person to person, you need to drink H20 for your overall health.

According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, males 19 or older generally need about 101 ounces (about 13 cups) of water a day while females should aim for 74 ounces (about 9 cups) daily.

One 2013 study concluded that drinking water has a “thermogenic” effect, which increases your metabolic rate (aka the rate at which your body burns calories).

At the end of the study, the participants had a decrease in body weight, BMI, and body composition after drinking 500 ml of water three times per day.

When you’re working on losing body fat, diet and exercise go hand in hand. Along with dietary changes, implementing the following moves and exercises can help strengthen your core and tone your waistline.

Cardio

Get that heart pumping and the sweat dripping with exercises such as jogging, HIIT, walking, or even actively playing with kids or dogs. Incorporating physical activity into your day will help you lose weight and reduce your cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk.

How much cardio you need can vary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend working your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a combo of the two each week.

Boat pose

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Image by Dima Bazak

Yoga in general is a great way to lose body fat. Start with a simple position called Boat pose to help you engage and strengthen your core.

  1. Sit on a yoga mat with your legs extended out in front of you.
  2. Bend your knees and lift your feet up until your shins are parallel with the floor.
  3. Extend your arms in front of you while extending your legs as far as you’re able.
  4. Hold the pose (and breathe!) for 30 seconds or more.
  5. Return back to a neutral pose and repeat the steps 8 to 10 more times.

Russian twist

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Another simple move that will get that upper belly burnin’ beyond your typical crunches is a Russian twist. You can do it with or without weights.

  1. Sit on a yoga mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. (Keep your feet off the floor if you want more of a challenge).
  2. Tighten your abs, keep your butt on the ground, and lean back about 45 degrees from the floor.
  3. Bring your hands together just above your abdomen and slowly twist your body from side to side. Make sure you bring your weight across one side to the other, with your elbows almost touching the floor.
  4. If you’re losing balance, you can cross your ankles.
  5. Twist back and forth slowly or quickly, but make sure you keep at that 45-degree angle.
  6. Twist for a full minute before you stop.

Reverse plank

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This move hits some deep upper belly muscles that can be easy to miss during other types of workouts.

  1. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, and keep your arms straight with your palms down on the floor slightly behind you.
  2. Brace your ab muscles by pulling your belly-button inward towards your spine as you lift your hips away from the ground. Squeeze your glutes and press through your palms to keep yourself lifted.
  3. Hold this pose for several seconds before releasing and lowering back down.
  4. Repeat 10 to 12 times for one set.

Side planks

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Side planks will blast the sides of your belly (aka your obliques).

  1. Lay on one side of your body with your bottom arm propped directly below your shoulder and your knees slightly bent and stacked on top of each other.
  2. Lift your hips up towards the sky as you brace your core. Your legs will straighten out as your hip lifts off of the ground.
  3. Lift your opposite arm up towards the sky and keep your shoulders open as you continuously lift your top hip upwards.
  4. Slowly drop back down to the starting position and repeat 8 to 10 times for one set.

Calories and exercise are huge parts of losing weight, but other lifestyle changes can be additional ways to reach your goals.

Cut down on stress

If you’ve been working hard on losing fat but nothing seems to be budging, consider where your stress levels are. Stress can be a reason why that pesky upper belly fat is lingering.

Coping mechanisms such as yoga, deep breathing, and mindfulness can help to reduce the stress that you’re feeling.

One study found that individuals who participated in an 8-week stress management program had a significant decrease in BMI compared to the individuals who didn’t participate.

Stop smoking

A habit that can affect more than just weight, smoking can cause cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and create issues with breathing.

It’s understandable that cravings may occur during the early stages of quitting, but once you push past that rough stage, you’ll find it easier to breathe and be more active.

Since it can be so tough, work with your doc to come up with a cig cessation plan that works best for you.

Focusing on calories, exercise, and lifestyle changes can help with weight loss overall and likely the additional fat deposits that are on your belly.

Some specific moves can help strengthen your muscles and your core in your belly, but “spot treating” is really a myth when it comes to fat loss.

A fad diet isn’t the answer to losing upper belly fat, and taking your time by making healthier choices is ultimately the best way to burn fat.