24 Healthy Foods That Burn Belly Fat: According To Dietitian 2023

Reviewed by Sutton, D., MD

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foods That Burn Belly Fat

Belly fat is a burden that impacts a diverse set of people, even those who are considered to be normal weight. Approximately 91%[1] of adults and 69%[2] of children have too much fat in one area of the body, including belly fat. 

This is due to a variety of reasons, but the good news is – there are effective ways to shed this type of fat, and there are foods that burn belly fat. This article will discuss those ways and detail which foods to eat that burn belly fat.

What Is Belly Fat?

Belly fat[3] is an excess of fat in the abdominal area. There are two types of belly fat: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat[4]. The first is fat located between the skin and muscle that works to protect the abdomen. Visceral fat is found deeper in the belly which is linked to inflaming the body’s organs and tissues.

foods that burn belly fat

Why Is Belly Fat Harmful?

Not only can belly fat cause inflammation, but it can also advance different chronic conditions[5], including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Too much inflammation resulting from excess fat in the abdominal area is also associated with cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

What Causes Belly Fat?

Hormonal Changes

Hormones released by the thyroid[6] help regulate metabolism or the body’s ability to change food into energy. If an individual does not produce enough of these types of hormones, a person’s metabolism will slow down which can often lead to a build up of belly fat.


Fat surrounding the abdominal area is mainly caused by poor diet and other external factors. A study looking at this very issue demonstrated that only a small percentage of cases[7] are connected to our genes.

This is great news!  You might be wondering why. The reason is that we can do things, like eating foods that help burn belly fat to have a flatter abdomen.


When people experience stress, they release a hormone called cortisol[8]. This hormone is associated with an increased appetite, and it causes the body to store more fat, particularly in the stomach region.

Lack Of Sleep

Sleeping too little or receiving a poor-quality sleep not only increases levels of cortisol in the body but also decreases leptin and ghrelin[9]. These two hormones suppress a person’s appetite, so if they are at lower levels, a person does not feel as full and is more likely to eat. 

Also, poor sleep leads to sluggishness and tiredness, resulting in less physical activity during the day which, of course, can increase belly fat.

Sugary Foods And Beverages

Sugar found in different foods and drinks is a strong contributing factor to belly fat. Upon large amounts of sugar ingestion[10], insulin is produced to move excess sugar out of the bloodstream. Unfortunately, this excess sugar is converted into fat and this fat can accumulate in the belly.


We’ve all heard the term “beer belly” before, and the name is fitting. Alcohol, including beer, is recognized as a toxin and metabolized by the liver. This interferes with the liver’s ability to metabolize fat, so alcohol[11] can certainly lead to an accumulation of fat, particularly in the abdominal area.

Trans Fats

Consuming trans fat is dangerous and unhealthy. It not only contributes to the fat content in the body but also transfers fat from other areas to the belly. Trans fat has been shown to increase waist circumference[12] more than regular fat.


Having reduced or low activity[13], leads to a build-up of fat, especially visceral fat. It’s simple – the less we move, the less calories we burn. As calories build up, the body stores them as fat. Can you guess the most likely area that fat is stored? Yes, it is the abdominal region!

Low-Protein Diets

A diet high in protein helps boost metabolism; therefore, reducing overall body fat. In addition, this macronutrient can help the body prevent weight gain. Proteins help us to feel satiated[14] or full, so we are more likely to consume less calories and fat. 

Also, protein aids the body in building muscle mass, which increases the rate by which calories are burned. Obviously, a diet low in protein increases the potential for belly fat.


Menopause is marked by a decrease in estrogen[15] in women. Estrogen is involved with fat distribution throughout the body. As the amount of estrogen is lowered, the more likely fat is moved or deposited around the waist area.

Low-Fiber Diets

Because fiber helps slow digestion[16], an individual will feel full more quickly, which can lead to a lower caloric intake. Fiber will also help you absorb carbohydrates better so that there is less fat stored around the abdomen. 

6 Simple Ways To Lose Belly Fat

Avoid Sugar And Sugar-Sweetened Drinks

Avoiding sugary foods and beverages dramatically helps you lose belly fat. We tend to drink our sugar, so the best way to do this would be to substitute sugar-sweetened drinks with water or natural fruit juices not from concentrate.

Eat More Protein

You can obtain the necessary amount of protein by eating lean meats like chicken. If you are vegan or vegetarian there are plenty of other options, including low-sugar protein drinks that help build muscle, beans or nuts.

Eat Fewer Carbohydrates

Carbs are foods that are difficult to avoid. Rather than totally eliminating carbohydrates from the diet, choose whole-grain carbs rather than refined ones. For example, eat brown rice instead of white rice or whole-wheat pasta instead of regular pasta.

Eat Fiber-Rich Foods

Fiber-rich foods aid in digestion and lead to lower belly fat. Legumes, including beans and lentils, are excellent sources of fiber. Whole-grains and certain fruits and vegetables also tend to be high in fiber. 

Exercise Regularly

Consistent exercise is one of the best ways to maintain physical fitness. It also helps burn calories and prevent fat buildup in the abdominal region. Exercising regularly also renders better sleep patterns, which lead to a balance of hormones, essential to stave off dreaded belly fat.

Track Your Food Intake

In order to manage weight and belly fat, keep a food diary or use an app that stores caloric intake. This can shed light on any triggers that cause unhealthy eating habits and lead to belly fat. You may also want to track how much exercise or physical activity you are doing.

Foods That Help Burn Belly Fat

Many people ask the question – What are the 5 foods that burn belly fat? Here’s the kicker – We found 24 foods that may burn belly fat fast.


Mushrooms help promote weight loss because they are rich in fiber and protein. Shitake, Reishi and portobello mushrooms are particularly good for this.


A compound found in this fruit, known as raspberry ketone[17] has been shown in animal data to burn visceral fat and decrease appetite.


Rich in fiber and protein, nuts are another food source that help reduce belly fat. If you happen to get the midnight munchies, choose nuts as a bedtime snack, as they can increase metabolism while you sleep.


An excellent source of fiber, avocados also contain monounsaturated fats. These types of fats actually help decrease an accumulation of fat in the abdominal area.


Eggs are a food source very high in protein. They help us feel full and prevent us from eating unhealthy calories in between meals. Avoid butter when cooking with eggs and use coconut oil instead.


Grapefruit has a high content of fiber, which results in overall body weight reduction and less belly fat. A study[18] conducted on women showed that those who incorporated more grapefruit in their diet had a smaller waistline. 

Coconut Oil

A recent study[19] demonstrates that coconut oil decreases weight. This weight loss can include abdominal fat. Rather than cooking with oils high in trans fat or saturated fat, use coconut oil to saute foods. Your belly might thank you!

Peanut Butter And Other Nut Butters

Nut butters, including peanut butter and almond butter, are loaded with proteins that help us feel satiated. When choosing a nut butter, go for the all-natural organic varieties to avoid unnecessary sugar and salt additives.


Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which is the fiber responsible for lowering cholesterol. In addition to this heart-healthy feat, it passes through the intestines slowly, picking up fat and sugar along the way and excretes them from the body.

Dark Chocolate

Yes, indeed, chocolate can help you shed belly fat. Keep in mind, however, that the chocolate we are talking about here must have at least 70% of cocoa or more. Dark chocolate is not only high in fiber and protein, which helps increase your body’s metabolism, but it is also an excellent source of antioxidants which are great for overall health. 


Gaining weight is a major issue for a variety of people. One of the worst places to gain weight is in the abdomen, not just for aesthetic reasons but also because belly fat can cause major health issues. 

By altering the foods you eat during mealtimes, specifically the ones outlined in this article, you can change the trajectory of your body’s shape. Do not despair – losing belly fat is possible with the right knowledge and the right diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is belly fat?

It is an excess of fat surrounding the abdominal region.

Who does belly fat affect?

Belly fat can be a problem for men and women, young and old, and even those who are considered to be a normal weight.

What foods help combat belly fat?

Generally, foods that are high in protein and fiber, including nuts, dark chocolate, broccoli and quinoa can help lower belly fat.

Is there scientific data to substantiate that certain foods reduce belly fat?

Although more research needs to be conducted on which foods can lower belly fat, there are some studies available that show certain foods do lower belly fat in individuals, including grapefruit, blueberries, green tea, and kiwi.

+ 19 sources

MIDSS adheres to strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes, and medical associations. We work mainly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure the accuracy of the information. We avoid the use of tertiary references. You can read about how we ensure the accuracy and timeliness of our content in our editorial process.

  1. Maffetone, P.B. and Laursen, P.B. (2017). The Prevalence of Overfat Adults and Children in the US. Frontiers in Public Health, [online] 5. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2017.00290.
  2. Maffetone, P.B. and Laursen, P.B. (2017). The Prevalence of Overfat Adults and Children in the US. Frontiers in Public Health, [online] 5. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2017.00290.
  3. Maffetone, P.B. and Laursen, P.B. (2017). The Prevalence of Overfat Adults and Children in the US. Frontiers in Public Health, [online] 5. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2017.00290.
  4. Haase, M. (2022). Different Types of Belly Fat and What They Mean for Your Health. [online] Prevention. Available at: https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/a41756122/types-of-belly-fat/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=arb_ga_pre_d_bm_prog_org_us_a41756122&gclid=Cj0KCQiA1sucBhDgARIsAFoytUslHhen7xA3mS7Mcm8M4wh3zfBzoT6ieJyWEbBUbzGhio_HoiWscxYaAp3EEALw_wcB [Accessed 16 Jan. 2023].
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  6. Villines, Z. (2020). What causes a hormonal belly? [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hormonal-belly [Accessed 16 Jan. 2023].
  7. DG;Nguyen, C. (2018). Genetic influences on central abdominal fat: a twin study. International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders : journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, [online] 20(8). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8856394/ [Accessed 16 Jan. 2023].
  8. Villines, Z. (2020). What causes a hormonal belly? [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hormonal-belly#cortisol [Accessed 16 Jan. 2023].
  9. News-Medical (2017). Ghrelin and Sleep. [online] News-Medical.net. Available at: https://www.news-medical.net/health/Ghrelin-and-Sleep.aspx [Accessed 16 Jan. 2023].
  10. Llu.edu. (2020). Lose belly fat by cutting out sugar | News. [online] Available at: https://news.llu.edu/health-wellness/lose-belly-fat-by-cutting-out-sugar [Accessed 16 Jan. 2023].
  11. Andreis, G. (2022). Moderate alcohol consumption and its relation to visceral fat and plasma androgens in healthy women. International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders : journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, [online] 20(3). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8653140/ [Accessed 16 Jan. 2023].
  12. Bendsen, N.T., Chabanova, E., Thomsen, H.S., Larsen, T.M., Newman, J.W., Stender, S., Dyerberg, J., Haugaard, S.B. and Astrup, A. (2011). Effect of trans fatty acid intake on abdominal and liver fat deposition and blood lipids: a randomized trial in overweight postmenopausal women. Nutrition & Diabetes, [online] 1(1), pp.e4–e4. doi:10.1038/nutd.2010.4.
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  14. Pesta, D.H. and Samuel, V.T. (2014). A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutrition & Metabolism, [online] 11(1), p.53. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-53.
  15. Mayo Clinic. (2022). 4 doctor-approved ways women can fight belly fat. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/belly-fat/art-20045809 [Accessed 16 Jan. 2023].
  16. Mount Sinai Health System. (2021). Soluble vs. insoluble fiber Information | Mount Sinai – New York. [online] Available at: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/special-topic/soluble-vs-insoluble-fiber [Accessed 16 Jan. 2023].
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  18. Murphy, M.M., Barraj, L.M. and Rampersaud, G.C. (2014). Consumption of grapefruit is associated with higher nutrient intakes and diet quality among adults, and more favorable anthropometrics in women, NHANES 2003–2008. Food & Nutrition Research, [online] 58(1), p.22179. doi:10.3402/fnr.v58.22179.
  19. Vogel, C.É., Crovesy, L., Rosado, E.L. and Soares-Mota, M. (2020). Effect of coconut oil on weight loss and metabolic parameters in men with obesity: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Food & Function, [online] 11(7), pp.6588–6594. doi:10.1039/d0fo00872a.


Adrian, W., Nutritionist
Herbalist, Wellness Writer, Organic Farmer
Adrian White is a certified herbalist, author, organic farmer, and freelance writer on subjects of health, wellness, nutrition, herbalism, and agriculture. Her book Herbalism: Plants & Potions That Heal was published through Arcturus Publishing in 2022. She is a past contributor to Healthline with bylines in The Guardian, Civil Eats, Good Housekeeping, and Rodale's Organic Life. Adrian is owner of Jupiter Ridge Farm growing diverse vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs.


Sutton, D., MD
Medical Writer & Editor
Drew is a retired ENT doctor who now lives in the Southeastern US. He was a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology and an MD degree. He completed his internship in General Surgery and Residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and practiced for almost 30 years in all aspects of ENT, including a specialization in disorders of the ear and skull base. Drew is passionate about communicating his clinical experiences and making his knowledge more accessible to the general public by medical writing.

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