How Do You Lose Belly Fat?

How Do You Lose Belly Fat?

It’s one of the most common weight loss questions that we get asked: how do you lose belly fat? Whether you call it ‘middle-aged spread’, ‘beer belly’, or ‘muffin top’ excess weight in this area can be the most challenging to lose. Belly fat also poses specific risks to your health. Here we’ll take a look at why, and what you can do about it.


Belly fat is harder to lose because it has more fat cells that are resistant to fat breakdown, and can be influenced by multiple factors including hormones, genetics, and lifestyle factors. Many people come to us asking how to reduce fat around the middle. The internet is filled with clickbait ads and headlines promising to ‘burn belly fat fast’. But the truth is, a holistic, long-term approach is always going to be the most effective option over crash diets or quick fixes. Here are some of the best clinically-backed methods for reducing belly fat (also known as visceral fat). The best approach will include optimising your diet for minimising visceral fat gain, lifestyle changes and exercise.

We can help you overcome your weight challenges, achieve your ideal weight and lose belly fat for the long term. Schedule a 25 minute complimentary call with us today to find out how.


Firstly, work on stabilising your blood sugar levels. To do this, structure meals around a protein source (foods like fish, seafood, eggs, tempeh or organic meat) with moderate amounts of healthy fats (such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, unroasted nuts and seeds) and a variety of vegetables and / or salad. Minimise your intake of sugar, starchy carbohydrates and ultra processed foods, that cause spikes and peaks in blood sugar. Not only do fluctuating blood sugar levels cause weight gain in general, they also promote the release of the stress hormone cortisol which is strongly associated with increased visceral fat.


Many people think that doing dozens of crunches is the best way to shift belly fat but that’s not the case (more on this later). However, several studies suggest that exercise is an effective way to reduce belly fat. High-intensity exercise training is efficient in improving visceral fat loss and is an effective approach for moderately obese individuals. Aerobic and resistance exercise can both lead to abdominal fat reduction, with some studies suggesting that high-intensity resistance training may induce faster visceral fat loss. Walking is also a great start to get your body moving more, especially if you’re new to exercise, so every time you make a journey and automatically go to get into your car ask yourself: ‘could I walk instead?’.


Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol make you significantly more likely to store fat around the middle. Regular meditation practice can help to lower cortisol levels so aim to work in a daily practice, even if just for 10-15 minutes a day. If you’re not sure where to start, meditation app MEYA uses sound wave therapy to help guide you into a meditative state.

Other de-stressing techniques include deep breathing, which helps to switch your nervous system from a sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ state, to a parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ state.

Adaptogenic supplements – essentially anti-stressor plants – such as the Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha, have also been shown to help lower cortisol levels. Try Nutri Advanced’s Ashwagandha 500mg. (If you’re taking any medication it’s important to ensure there are no interactions between supplements and your medications. If in doubt, check with your doctor).


It’s called a ‘beer belly’ for a reason. Drinking is associated with weight gain for a number of reasons. Not only do alcoholic drinks often provide high amounts of sugar and calories, alcohol itself slows down fat burning. Drinking too much can also lead to overeating. Many people find themselves more likely to eat the foods they’d usually avoid, including highly processed foods. The government advises that we don’t regularly consume more than 14 units (6-7 drinks) a week.

Smoking should be on the no-list, too. Observational studies have shown that while smokers did not show significant difference in overall fat mass compared with non-smokers, they did have more visceral fat.


Lack of quality sleep can increase cortisol levels and have been linked to increased visceral fat. One study showed that adults under 40 who slept five hours or less a night had significantly more visceral fat after five years. Another study showed that a lack of sleep led to a 9% increase in abdominal fat and an 11% increase in abdominal visceral fat, compared to a control group. Aim for the recommended standard of a solid eight hour a night. Monitoring your sleep using a WHOOP strap or Oura ring can provide valuable insights and guidance on how to get more.


Now that we’ve covered how you lose, it, you might be wondering just why it’s so important to keep your visceral fat low. The pandemic served as a stark reminder of the extent to which being overweight can be a threat to our health. Evidence shows that being obese doubles our risk of being hospitalised with Covid-19 and that’s not the only health risk that comes with being overweight.

Research from University College London found that people over 65 who are obese have a 31% increased risk of dementia later in life. Storing excess fat around the middle can be particularly harmful to health as it can increase our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and stroke.


We know that being overweight poses health risks, but why is visceral fat in particular such a concern? Subcutaneous fat lies beneath the skin, whereas visceral ‘belly’ fat that sits under the abdominal wall surrounding vital organs like our liver, stomach and intestines. We used to believe that body fat simply functioned as energy storage for the body, but we now know that different types of fat affect the body in different ways. Having excess visceral fat can trigger low-level systemic inflammation, one of the main reasons that it is linked to an increased risk of disease and faster ageing.


Many studies have shown that raised levels of visceral fat increase the risks of cardiovascular diseases. One study showed that ‘women who carried more weight around their middles (measured by waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, or waist-to-height ratio) had a 10% to 20% greater risk of heart attack than women who were just heavier over all’.


So how can you tell if you need to work on reducing your visceral fat? The BMI (body mass index) measurement has limitations and won’t be much help here. It doesn’t take into account factors such as high muscle percentage or weight distribution. As a result, the readings of professional rugby players and body builders with a high muscle mass can show them falling into the ‘obese’ category when they are anything but.

Many health experts now agree that our waist circumference is a more accurate indicator of health risk when it comes to visceral fat. Regardless of your height or BMI, it’s advisable to lose weight if your waist is greater than 94cm (37in) for men and 80cm (31.5in) for women. You are considered to be very high risk of serious health issues as a man if your waist measurement is above 102cm (40in) or 88cm (34.5in) for women. If your waist circumference is greater than this, you should see your doctor as soon as you’re able to and take action to address this.

Take a look at our guide to measuring yourself at home if you need some tips



Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol are linked to increased fat storage around the middle, which is why belly fat is often linked to stress. Are you working long hours? Moving house? Getting divorced? Or tackling other stressful life challenges? Unfortunately, this could be contributing to your abdominal weight gain. Abdominal fat cells have four times more cortisol receptors than subcutaneous fat, which is why belly fat can result. Cortisol levels also increase as we age. This is one of the reasons why weight around the middle can increase as we get older. You can learn more from this study on stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women.


Studies have shown that menopausal declines in oestrogen can accelerate fat accumulation, particularly visceral or abdominal fat. If you’re a female in your mid 40s onwards the menopause could be contributing to your weight challenges.

If you feel the menopause could be contributing to your weight gain, there are solutions. Tests can be run to assess your levels of hormones, including oestrogen. A good doctor can prescribe a tailored hormone replacement protocol to elevate your levels. This can help to ease symptoms of the menopause and make managing your weight easier.

We work with many women to support them in managing their weight before, during and after the menopause. We work closely with a fantastic functional medicine doctor who supports our clients with hormone treatment where relevant.


Some approaches tend to be spoken about a lot in relation to belly fat loss. In truth, they’re unlikely to be effective.


Ab exercises will strengthen your core muscles which is important, but endless sit ups alone won’t be enough to reduce fat in this area. It takes more than crunches to tackle visceral fat. However, regular exercise is important and has many health benefits.  Find something you enjoy and aim to do it at least three times a week for 30 minutes.


Clients sometimes ask us about surgical options, but they are not an effective solution. Liposuction is only able to remove subcutaneous fat – the fat that sits just under the skin. It cannot remove fat that sits under the abdominal muscles wall, surrounding the vital organs. Therefore it’s ineffective at reducing visceral belly fat.


Are you looking to reduce your visceral fat? We are a team of qualified, experienced nutritionists who specialise in weight loss. We can help you overcome your weight challenges, reach your happy weight and maintain it long term. Book yourself in for a complimentary 25 mintue call or contact us and a member of our team will be in touch soon. We can talk through your challenges and explore whether one of our Intelligent Weight Loss programmes is right for you.

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Sarah has worked with hundreds of clients over the past decade to help them live in a healthy body that they feel confident in.

Sarah spent a large part of her teens and 20’s as a professional dancer battling with orthorexia and an unhealthy relationship with food and her body. This created a desire to understand the human body more so she could finally cut through the confusion and end the cycle of yoyo dieting. This fuelled her passion to help other women do the same.


Sarah specialises in supporting women who are struggling to lose weight due to underlying health issues. She’s helped many women manage their weight during and after the menopause, as well as clients with thyroid disease and immune system dysfunction. Sarah loves food and sharing healthy recipes with her clients. Her aim is to ensure that clients don’t feel deprived and instead, achieve their weight loss and health goals in a positive and sustainable way.


To enquire about working with Sarah, please contact us.



Ailsa is one of our most experienced practitioners. She specialises in helping clients to lose weight, develop a healthy relationship with food and finally feel comfortable in their skin. Ailsa’s mission is for everyone she works with to enjoy the journey and that working with a nutritionist should not be a punishment, but your access to a new possibility.


Ailsa is not only an experienced weight loss nutritionist, she is also a skilled coach. She helps our clients overcome emotional eating, destructive habits and self-sabotaging behaviours that have prevented successful weight loss in the past. Ailsa has spent years in clinic working with clients who have experienced yo-yo dieting and have discovered that long term weight loss is not just about eating less until you can stand it no longer.


Working with Ailsa you will be comprehensively supported, not only in improving your nutrition and lifestyle, but also your eating habits and your relationship with food. When you work on all these elements together, the results can be truly astonishing.


To enquire about working with Ailsa, please contact us.

Test Nikki is our Practice Manager, managing our team of practitioners and heading up the day-to-day running of the business. Nikki is involved in the strategic development of our practice, coming from a strong business background in town planning. A Florida girl, Nikki relocated to the UK in 2014 with her husband and two children.



Nikki is our Practice Manager, managing our team of practitioners and heading up the day-to-day running of th clinic.


Nikki is involved in the strategic development of our practice, coming from a strong business background in town planning.


A Florida girl, Nikki relocated to the UK in 2014 with her husband and two children.


Stéphanie is a skilled nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner with additional training in eating disorders, disordered eating and obesity. She believes that working towards both physiological and mental health is key in achieving optimum wellbeing.


Stéphanie’s personal experience of emotional eating and the ongoing struggle to find the right support led her to combine the science of nutrition with behavioural coaching to motivate and empower her clients. She specialises in helping people who struggle with their weight and their relationship with food. She helps them develop a healthier and more peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.


To enquire about working with Stéphanie, please contact us.


Inna is passionate about supporting women on their journey to improved health and wellbeing. She believes that the solution to effective weight loss does not lie in ever more restrictive diets, but a more sophisticated approach that optimises health and vitality, as well as promoting effective weight loss.


Working with Inna you will benefit from her in-depth knowledge of female health and hormones. She will support you in developing a healthy diet, lifestyle and mindset that ensures you reach your ideal weight and maintain it in the years to come.


Inna is passionate about food with a wide repertoire of delicious healthy recipes and meal ideas to ensure your weight loss journey is as enjoyable as possible!


To enquire about working with Inna, please contact us.



Ania is a firm believer that improving your health and losing weight should be a positive, empowering journey, not one centred around deprivation.


After being diagnosed with two autoimmune conditions in her twenties, Ania spent several years educating herself on the power of food and nutrition. She put it all into practise and changed her diet and lifestyle, reversing her endometriosis and thyroid disease. After experiencing such a significant improvement in her health, Ania had a big desire to help others. She embarked on a four year journey to study nutrition, graduating from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition with distinction.


Ania specialises in autoimmunity and works with clients who have underlying health issues preventing successful weight loss. Her expertise enables her to successfully support our clients with conditions such as hypothyroidsm (underactive thyroid), PCOS and diabetes. 


To enquire about working with Ania, please contact us.

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