By Dr. TRACY MOUNTFORD, MBBS MBCAM
Stomach fat, also known as abdominal fat, is a physical and cosmetic issue for a large number of UK adults. Around 36.2% of British adults are classified as overweight. But stomach fat can also affect people who are within a healthy weight range, due to genetic and lifestyle factors. It is also a harmful type of fat thanks to its links to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
People may also struggle to fit into their clothes as a direct result of stubborn stomach fat bulges. For this reason, people can greatly benefit from losing stomach fat to safeguard and maximise their own health and wellbeing. In this article, we discuss what causes stomach fat. We then outline how to reduce stomach fat with clinically proven methods, including non-surgical stomach fat removal techniques.
What are the different types of stomach fat?
Stomach fat is a type of fat that collects around the abdomen. A person can determine whether they have a significant build-up of stomach fat by measuring their waist. A waistline of 40+ inches (102 cm) in men and 35+ inches (88 cm) in women denotes stomach obesity. But people can also have excess stomach fat stores even if their waistline is below this measure. This is partly due to the two different types of stomach fat that exist:
- Visceral fat: The fat that surrounds a person’s organs
- Subcutaneous fat: The wobbly fat that sits under the skin
People who are not classified as overweight can still gain excess subcutaneous stomach fat if they lead sedentary lifestyles or have less muscle mass around their stomachs. Eating excess calories can also play a role. Fat loss strategies often result in visceral fat reduction (the more serious type) first. But subcutaneous fat is more visible and often takes much longer to lose.
What causes stomach fat?
A wide range of factors cause stomach fat to form, from diet and exercise to genetics. Yet the ageing process can increase the likelihood of people building up stubborn stomach fat rolls. As we age, our metabolic rate decreases, which can detrimentally affect our body’s ability to efficiently burn through calories. Our metabolism is the natural chemical process that turns our food sources into energy for the body. But this system begins to slow down as we age, particularly from our 40s to mid-50s. During this time, we are more vulnerable to burning fewer calories than our body can physically process. This leads directly to the formation of excess subcutaneous fat stores around the belly.
Depleted muscle mass can make subcutaneous fat stores appear more pronounced. This is why many women find it hard to reduce fat around their stomachs post-pregnancy (the so-called ‘mummy tummy’ syndrome). The following factors also increase the stomach fat risk:
Top stomach fat causes
- Poor diet: eating low protein, high sugar diets and excess calories can cause weight gain
- Excess alcohol: some clinical studies have shown a correlation between excessive alcohol consumption and obesity
- Lack of exercise: if a person consumes more calories than they burn during exercise, they will put on weight
- Smoking: studies have shown how obesity is common in smoking groups
- Stress: cortisol, the stress hormone can increase a person’s appetite and lead to weight gain
- Sleep deprivation: contributes to weight gain
- Genetics: there is evidence to suggest that a person’s genes can influence metabolism and the risk of obesity-related diseases
These diverse causes make it important for patients to take a personalised approach to their own stomach fat reduction strategies.
How to get rid of stomach fat
When trying to get rid of stomach fat stores, sufferers should understand the extent of their fat build-up. It is also important to pinpoint the different factors that could have led to stomach weight gain. Seek out a consultation with a medically trained stomach fat specialist to ensure your strategy matches your own needs.
Depending on the amount of stomach fat you need to lose, you may benefit from a combination of approaches like diet and exercise regimes. This is in addition to clinically proven cosmetic fat removal procedures like liposuction or fat freezing (cryolipolysis) Your practitioner can advise on the best ways to lose stomach fat once this consultation has taken place.
The following 10 methods have been proven to reap real results. We have broken them down into lifestyle strategies and cosmetic fat removal treatments:
Top 10 best ways to lose stomach fat
1. Eating a healthy diet for stomach fat loss
One of the best methods to reduce fat around the stomach is eating a healthy, balanced diet. Multiple studies have shown that the consumption of excess sugar, trans fats and calorific processed foods are primary catalysts for stomach fat build-up. Swap these types of food for protein-rich foods instead that decrease appetite and promote fullness. The consumption of dietary fibre is also key to increasing fullness and reducing calorie absorption. Follow calorie-intake guidelines to ensure that you are not consuming more than your body can burn off. This is central to any effort if you want to lose stomach fat in a sustainable, long-term way.
2. Adopting exercises for stomach fat removal
Much like a healthy diet, exercise is one of the best ways to minimise the build-up of abdominal fat. Belly fat exercises like abdominal crunches are certainly effective at contracting abdominal muscles to enhance them. But “spot reduction” of fat in the stomach cannot be achieved with just these exercises. Instead, combine a minimum of 3 muscle-building exercises per week with cardiovascular routines like swimming or running. Cardiovascular exercises will burn through excess calories, while strength training like crunches will build up your stomach muscles. When combined, these strategies can help to reduce the visible appearance of bulging fat across your abdominal muscles. The key is to be consistent and combine this plan with healthy eating to ensure maximum physical benefits.
3. Stress reduction for fat loss
Stress can be a major contributor to gaining excess stomach fat. The body’s adrenal glands produce cortisol, which is widely known as the ‘stress’ hormone. If you find yourself in stressful situations, your body is more likely to produce this hormone at high levels. The impact of this is that your appetite can increase, as well as your stomach fat storage. Studies have also shown that overweight women are more susceptible to producing higher cortisol levels than overweight men. This is why it is so important to engage in anti-stress activities to curtail excess cortisol production. Practising yoga, Pilates or meditation are popular methods to soothe the mind and counteract stress. Exercise itself is also a key stress-fighter, as it boosts the body’s serotonin levels – a major mood-enhancing antidote to stress hormones.
4. Improving sleep patterns
Having a healthy sleeping pattern can also maximise the chances of a person losing stomach fat. Scientific studies have shown us that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to gain more weight. To prevent this from happening, always aim to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night. It also helps if you adopt sleep-positive patterns like minimising interactions with technology and people at least 1 hour before bedtime. This simple change can dramatically boost the chances of a restful sleeping pattern.
5. Quitting smoking
Many smokers fear that quitting smoking will increase their weight gain around their stomach. While the evidence does suggest that nicotine in cigarettes speeds up a person’s metabolism, people who quit smoking have been shown to actually lose stomach weight in the long term. One study documented in the British Medical Journal showed that smokers gained weight after quitting in the first 3 months. But this rate of weight gain reduced significantly in the subsequent months. At 12 months after quitting, 16–21% of quitters had lost weight. Smoking can also hinder exercise efforts, as it is intrinsically related to lung conditions and a shortness of breath. So, by stopping smoking, individuals are able to increase the calorie-burning performance of their workouts.
Surgical & Non-surgical stomach fat removal treatments
In addition to lifestyle fat loss strategies, modern science has evolved to help people reduce their stomach fat stores in fast and effective ways. When patients combine these techniques with tried-and-tested lifestyle changes, the fat loss results can be impressive. They are also helpful for patients with stubborn stomach fat stores that just don’t seem to budge, even with exercise:
6. Freezing Stomach Fat with CoolSculpting
Coolsculpting is one of the leading non-surgical fat removal methods in the cosmetic industry today. Also known as ‘fat freezing’ or cryolipolysis, it uses a specialised cooling device to break down subcutaneous fat cells in the stomach. Once the fat cells die from the procedure, the body disposes of them naturally in the weeks following the procedure. In as little as 3 months post-treatment, patients are likely to see a significant reduction in visible fat bulges across their stomach with this clinically proven treatment. A big advantage of stomach fat removal using this method is that stomach fat can be “spot targeted” in a highly strategic way that cannot be achieved with exercise. It also requires no invasive surgery or downtime, making it one of the most precise and effortless ways to burn through stomach fat.
7. CoolSculpting Elite stomach fat reduction
The CoolSculpting Elite system is the latest innovation in fat freezing technology, giving patients the ability to fast-track results in less time than the standard procedure. CoolSculpting Elite uses the same fat freezing technology to break down subcutaneous fat tissues, but the fat freezing applicators have been re-engineered to generate a greater concentration of fat coverage in one single session. Patients can freeze more fat in less time thanks to the introduction of dual applicators that allow patients to not only target stomach fat during a session, but also fat in other areas like the inner thighs and outer thighs, love handles or buttocks. This makes it a breakthrough treatment for patients who have higher BMIs, or those that are suffering from excess fat stores in additional areas. The Cosmetic Skin Clinic is the first clinic in the UK to offer this next-generation fat removal system.
8. EMSculpt for stomach fat toning
Another cutting-edge stomach fat removal system is EMSculpt, an FDA-approved technology that builds muscle and burns fat at the same time. This makes it an ideal procedure for patients who may only have a small amount of fat to lose from their stomachs. Patients with a small layer of subcutaneous fat will benefit most from this leading body sculpting procedure – ie, those that have a small layer of fat that obscures their six-pack muscles for example. Doing one 30-minute EMSculpt session is the equivalent of conducting 2,000 manual crunches, making it one of the most efficient ways to contract abdominal muscles. The results speak for themselves, with a 16% increase in muscle mass and a 19% reduction in fat deposits seen from 2 – 4 weeks post-treatment.
9. Liposuction for stomach fat
In addition to non-surgical procedures, patients can use surgical methods to get rid of stomach fat in a fast and effective way, although this does involve patient downtime and potential side effects. One of the leading methods is liposuction, which first became popular as a fat reduction system in the 1980s. During liposuction, a cosmetic surgeon sucks out subcutaneous fat stores from the stomach using a specialised cannula and suction device, removing excess fat cells in the process and helping the patient to achieve a slimmer and more sculpted stomach. However, while it produces dramatic and immediate fat loss results, it has a long recovery period of up to six weeks, and typically costs more than non-surgical procedures like CoolSculpting.
10. Vaser Liposuction stomach fat removal
Vaser Liposuction is an alternative clinical method to reduce subcutaneous fat stores in the stomach, but with less downtime than traditional liposuction. Patients with more athletic physiques and lower BMIs and better suited to this walk-in, walk-out procedure. However, like liposuction, it is an expensive option, which is why non-surgical treatments like EMSculpt and CoolSculpting are now leading the way when it comes to losing stomach fat in a fast, safe and cost-effective way.
Stomach Fat Reduction at The Cosmetic Skin Clinic
We see hundreds of patients each year who are interested in maximising fat reduction across their stomachs using our leading non-surgical technologies. At The Cosmetic Skin Clinic, we have been voted as the number 1 CoolSculpting practitioner in the UK and Western Europe for 6 consecutive years, and our founder, Dr Tracy Mountford, is an internationally renowned EMSculpt ambassador.
Our expertly qualified medical doctors and practitioners have also been trained in fat loss expertise, meaning that they can give you trusted and professional advice when it comes to your own stomach fat loss goals. Patients have also commended us in our approach to patient satisfaction and results, which is seen in our 5-Star Trustpilot rating.
To find out more about how to lose stomach fat with the help of our non-surgical treatments, fill out our online enquiry form. Alternatively, you can contact our clinics in London and Buckinghamshire on the following contact numbers: 0203 319 3637 (London) or 01753 646 660 (Bucks). We look forward to hearing from you!