What Foods Help Burn Belly Fat?

Health and Nutrition

Obesity and specifically abdominal fat or what we generally refer to as belly fat has been linked to several chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Abdominal fat or waist circumference measurement which is the measure for abdominal obesity can be an important predictor of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that increase the risk for heart disease and other health issues, such as diabetes and stroke (1).

A large waist circumference or having excess fat in the stomach area is a risk factor for heart disease compared to excess fat in other parts of the body for example hips (1).

There are several foods which have been studied for their effect on abdominal obesity and which when included in the diet regularly can contribute towards reduction of belly fat.

Which foods can help burn belly fat?


It was observed in a research work done on European men and women that a diet having high amounts of fruit and dairy products and which was low in white bread, processed meat, margarine, and soft drinks was linked to lower gain in waist circumference for a given body mass index (2).

Fruits are also generally low in calories, good sources of vitamins and rich in dietary fiber.


Vegetables are good sources of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, and rich sources of dietary fiber. They also have several phytonutrients which have antioxidant value.

Results of a study showed that vegetable intake was inversely proportional to abdominal obesity (3).

Hence it is important to include veggies in your diet as they provide many benefits.  


High fiber consumption has been linked to lowering of weight and waist circumference in children and adolescents. Children need to be encouraged to eat plant products to increase their dietary fiber intake (4).

High fiber containing foods generally find favourable place in a weight loss diets and they are good for gut health.

Dairy products

From the results of a study it was seen that milk and milk products have a positive effect on abdominal obesity, that is they contribute towards reduction of waist circumference which is a significant predictor of metabolic syndrome (2).

Dairy products at the same time are good sources of calcium and vitamin D.

Calorie restriction

Consuming diet which is not calorie or energy dense will contribute towards reduction of excessive weight and that includes abdominal adiposity.

It was observed that when there was a small energy restriction and exercise was also included there was a significant reduction in subcutaneous abdominal fat (5).

Foods that are low in energy density are also good for preventing abdominal obesity (2). Foods included in the diet should be nutrient dense not energy dense.


Most weight loss diets contain significant amount of protein. A high protein diet in comparison with low protein diet was associated with better weight maintenance especially with individuals who had higher BMI and waist circumference (6).

In a cohort study it was concluded that protein intake was inversely related to waist circumference (7).

Low glycaemic index foods

Foods that have low glycaemic index which means they are low in simple sugars and high in complex carbohydrates such as fiber are beneficial in preventing visceral or abdominal obesity (2).

These could be whole grains and foods that contain more protein.


Almonds, about 40 grams a day may have the ability to reduce central adiposity.

A study results pointed out that substitution of almonds instead of high carbohydrate snack may be a simple alteration in the diet to reduce central adiposity (8).

Make almonds part of your balanced diet.

Green tea

The authors of a review concluded that green tea extract may have a role in controlling body composition because of its effect on thermogenesis and fat oxidation or both (9).

In a study on high fat diet fed mice, supplementation with 3.2 grams EGCG, a green tea flavanoid per kg diet for 16 weeks reduced body weight, percent body fat and visceral fat compared to control group. The results showed that EGCG a type of green tea catechins consumption may reduce the development of obesity (10).

Authors of a study summarised that consumption of a beverage containing green tea catechins may boost exercise-induced loss of abdominal fat (11).

Have a cup of green tea every day it provides innumerable health benefits.

Omega 3 fatty acids

Foods containing omega 3 fatty acids when consumed may show beneficial effects by reducing abdominal fat when combined with lifestyle modification such as including exercise or restriction of calories (12).


There is significant evidence from animal studies that supplementing diet with long chain omega 3 fatty acids can decrease weight gain and reduce visceral or abdominal fat a review concluded (13).

Fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, soybean oil etc are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Final word

The aim while planning a diet should be to provide all the essential nutrients. There are several foods that can be part of the balanced diet. Above are the foods which may contribute to reducing or preventing abdominal obesity or belly fat which is a predictor for metabolic syndrome.

Try and incorporate them into your balanced diet as regularly as possible.




  1. National heart, lung and blood Institute (2019). Metabolic Syndrome. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/metabolic-syndrome
  2. Romaguera, D., Ängquist, L., Du, H., Jakobsen, M.U., Forouhi, N.G., Halkjær J, Feskens, E. J. M., Van der, D. L. A., Masala, G., Steffen, A., Palli, D., Wareham, N.J., Overvad, K., Tjønneland, A., Boeing, H., Riboli, E. and Sørensen, T.I. (2010) Dietary determinants of changes in waist circumference adjusted for body mass index – a proxy measure of visceral adiposity, PloS one. Vol. 5(7). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904387/
  3. Schwingshackl, L., Hoffmann, G., Kalle-Uhlmann, T., Arregui, M., Buijsse, B. and Boeing, H. (2015) Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Changes in Anthropometric Variables in Adult Populations: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies, PLoS ONE. Vol. 10(10).https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0140846
  4. Maryama, B., Mostafab, Q., Esmaeilc, M., Royad, R. and Royad, K. (2018) Association of dietary fiber intake with general and abdominal obesity in children and adolescents: The Weight disorder survey of the CASPIAN-IV Study,  Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 11 (3). https://content.iospress.com/articles/mediterranean-journal-of-nutrition-and-metabolism/mnm180224
  5. Van Gemert, W. A., Peeters, P. H., May, A. M., Doornbos, A., Elias, S. G., van der Palen, J. and Monninkhof, E. M. (2019) Effect of diet with or without exercise on abdominal fat in postmenopausal women – a randomised trial, BMC public health. Vol. 19(1). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371569/
  6. Ankarfeldt, M.Z., Angquist, L., Stocks, T., Jakobsen, M.U., Overvad, K., Halkjær, J., Saris, W.H.M., Astrup, A. and Sorensen, T.I.A. (2014) Body Characteristics, Dietary Protein and Body Weight Regulation. Reconciling Conflicting Results from Intervention and Observational Studies? ,PLOS ONE. Vol. 9 (8) https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0101134
  7. Halkjær, J. (2009) Dietary Predictors of 5-Year Changes in Waist Circumference, Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Vol.109 (8). https://jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(09)00637-3/abstract 
  8. Berryman, C. E., West, S. G., Fleming, J. A., Bordi, P. L. and Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2015) Effects of daily almond consumption on cardiometabolic risk and abdominal adiposity in healthy adults with elevated LDL-cholesterol: A randomized controlled trial, Journal of the American Heart Association. Vol. 4(1).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4330049/
  9. Cooper, R., Morre, J. and Morre, D.M. (2005) Medicinal benefits of green tea: Part I. Review of non-cancer health benefits, The journal of alternative and complementary medicine. Vol.11. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=


  1. Bose, M., Lambert, J.D., Ju, J., Reuhl, K.R., Shapses, S.A. and Yang, Ch. S. (2008) The Major Green Tea Polyphenol, (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate, Inhibits Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and Fatty Liver Disease in High-Fat–Fed Mice, The Journal of Nutrition. Vol.138 (9).



  1. Maki, K.C., Reeves, M.S., Farmer, M., Yasunaga, K., Matsuo, N., Katsuragi, Y.,Komikado, M., Tokimitsu, I., Wilder, D., Jones, F., Blumberg, J.B. and Cartwright,Y. (2009) Green Tea Catechin Consumption Enhances Exercise-Induced Abdominal Fat Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults, The Journal of Nutrition. Vol.139 (2).



  1. Du, S., Jin, J., Fang, W. and Su, Q. (2015) Does Fish Oil Have an Anti-Obesity Effect in Overweight/Obese Adults? A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, PloS one. 10 (11).



  1. Buckley, J. D. and Howe, P. R. (2010) Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may be beneficial for reducing obesity-a review, Nutrients. Vol. 2(12).


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