6 Evidence-Based Ways to Burn Belly Fat and Extend Your Life

May 14, 2015 Updated: May 18, 2015

The ongoing battle of the bulge, while once considered primarily a matter of vanity, may actually be one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dying from a multitude of causes (i.e. all-cause mortality), but especially heart attack.

Some studies have even revealed that abdominal obesity, known clinically as central obesity, and which is measured by the hip-to-waist ratio, may be more important than blood lipids, i.e. “cholesterol,” in determining heart attack risk. 

So, with this in mind, the following six “diet tips,” take on even greater relevance to your overall health.

Eating coconut is safe and effective at reducing midsection fat in both women and men. (Shutterstock)


1. Coconut Oil

Two human studies now exist showing that dietary coconut is safe and effective in reducing midsection fat in both women and men. 

In the women’s study, the treatment group received two tablespoons of coconut oil (30 milliliters), daily, over a period of 12 weeks, resulting in both a reduction in waist circumference, as well as a boost in their “good” HDL cholesterol levels.  

 In the male study, obese men received two tablespoons (30 milliliters) of coconut oil per day, taken in three divided doses, half an hour before each meal, for one month. The men experienced an average of over one inch (2.86 centimeter) reduction in their waist circumference, with no changes in their blood lipids.  You can read the full study here. 

The consumption of catechin-rich green tea has been found to be safe and effective in reducing weight in moderately overweight subjects. (Shutterstock)
Drinking catechin-rich green tea has been found to be safe and effective at reducing weight in people who are moderately overweight. (Shutterstock)

2. Green Tea

Green tea has been called “the medicine which grew into a beverage.”  Indeed, research has identified over 200 health conditions that may benefit from its use, with obesity on top of the list.  

In a 2009 study published in the journal Obesity, the consumption of catechin-rich green tea was found to be safe and effective in reducing weight in moderately overweight subjects, including an over two inch reduction in their waist circumference.

Skin exposure to UV light helps the body metabolize subcutaneous fat. (Shutterstock)

3. Sunlight 

2011 study in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology revealed a remarkable fact of metabolism: The exposure of human skin to UV light results in increased subcutaneous fat metabolism.

 While subcutaneous fat, unlike visceral fat, is not considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, it is known that a deficiency of one of sunlight’s best known beneficial byproducts, vitamin D, is associated with greater visceral fat. 

Also, there is a solid body of research showing that vitamin D deficiency is linked to obesity, with nine such studies on GreenMedInfo’s obesity research page.  One of them, titled “Association of plasma vitamin D levels with adiposity in Hispanic and African Americans,” which was published in the journal Anticancer Research in 2005, found that vitamin D levels were inversely associated with adiposity in Hispanics and African-Americans, including abdominal obesity. 

The point? Exposure to UVB radiation, which is most abundant two hours on either side of solar noon and responsible for producing vitamin D, may be an essential strategy in burning midsection fat, the natural way.

While soy has its downsides, it also seems to have value as a medicinal food for abdominal fat in postmenopausal women (Shutterstock)

4. Soy Protein

While soy has become a punching bag of sorts, for rightful (GMO/non-organic/over-consumption/exclusively non-fermented) and wrongful reasons (disregarding the positive soy research), it does seem to have value as a medicinal food in addressing subcutaneous and total abdominal fat in postmenopausal women, likely because it does have hormone-modulating properties.  

Certainly it’s not a one, or even two-dimensional issue, but it is important that we don’t shut down discussion altogether on the potential value of soy, or any food, for our healthat least not until we have familiarized ourselves with the depth of research extant on the topic.