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How To Lose Hanging Belly Fat In 2024 – 7 Simple Steps For You To Follow

Karen Stetson
by

Reviewed by Sevginur Akdas, PhD
how to lose hanging belly fat
Eat healthy foods to lose stubborn belly fat. Photo: tomjenjira/Shutterstock

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Body fat stores energy, provides cushioning, and insulates from heat and cold. However, having excess body weight and belly fat can be physically and emotionally uncomfortable. Hanging belly fat is most commonly seen in women after pregnancy and in women and men who are overweight.

There are two types of fat in the abdominal area: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat collects just beneath the skin. It is less dangerous. Visceral fat is deep inside the abdomen and surrounds the vital organs. This type of fat is more dangerous[1] because it is associated with metabolic dysfunctions and an increased risk of heart disease, type two diabetes, and some cancers such as colon. It also increases inflammation[1] in the body.

Continue reading to learn how to lose hanging belly fat without surgery and by taking steps that will not only reduce fat but improve your overall health.

Seven Steps To Shred Your Hanging Belly Fat

  • Step 1: Commit to a healthy lifestyle improvement plan.
  • Step 2: Eat better food in reasonable amounts.
  • Step 3: Eat nutrient-dense foods, healthy fats, and protein while limiting sugar.
  • Step 4: Watch what you drink.
  • Step 5: Do both cardio and strength training exercises.
  • Step 6: Get enough quality sleep.
  • Step 7: Manage your stress.

How To Lose Hanging Belly Fat – 7 Effective Steps

You can take several steps to lose belly fat. These recommendations will help you lose body fat mass overall, which is needed to get rid of a hanging belly. Keep reading to learn seven steps to begin your journey to better health and less belly fat.

Commit To A Healthy Lifestyle Improvement Plan

Improving overall health and maintaining a healthy weight should be your ultimate goal. Losing excess weight will reduce hanging belly fat. There is no quick way to achieve fat loss that is sustainable or safe. Practicing self-care and acknowledging your health is valuable and provides motivation. 

Spot reduction[2] of fat is not realistic or achievable. Exercises like crunches will strengthen abdominal muscles, which is good for your core, but those muscles will be covered in a layer of fat unless you lose excess weight.

Successful weight loss and subsequent loss of hanging belly fat require good nutrition, exercise, adequate sleep, management of stress, and a commitment to incorporating these things into your lifestyle. Think of this plan as a lifelong commitment to your health, not a temporary or fast fix. There are a multitude of actions you can take to help you get rid of saggy belly fat. However, evaluating your emotions related to eating, exercising, and overall health is worth working through so that this plan will last a lifetime.

Eat Better Food In Reasonable Amounts

how to lose hanging belly fat
Eating healthy foods will help reduce belly fat. Photo: Cheberkus/Shutterstock

Begin by calculating how many calories you consume daily. Using an app to track calories and macros is tremendously helpful in evaluating your intake. Understanding what you eat is enlightening and will make your progress easier because a food diary will guide your choices for healthy eating. 

On average, a woman should consume[3] approximately 1200-1500 calories daily to lose weight, and a man 1800-2000 calories. These are only averages; factors such as age, height, weight, and activity level influence correct calorie consumption. To begin losing weight, subtract 500 calories from your current calorie count. Monitor the reduction in your caloric intake to decide if it is working and adjust as needed.

One study[4] evaluated calorie reduction, muscle gain, and weight loss. It determined that cutting 500 calories from your daily intake did support weight loss and muscle maintenance simultaneously. The 500-calorie reduction will make it harder to gain lean muscle mass, so continue to monitor your weight loss versus muscle gain and adjust calories as needed.

Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods

Not all foods affect the body in the same way. The quality of the nutrients consumed affects metabolism in different ways. Eighty percent of body weight is attributed[3] to the food you eat, and the remaining 20% is due to the effect of exercise. Eating appropriate amounts of nutritious whole food will be your best tool to lose hanging belly fat.

Add Healthy Fats

Dietary fat was once demonized as the reason people are overweight. Research has shown, however, that eating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats[5] reduces appetite, keeps you full longer, improves cholesterol, and reduces the risk of heart disease. Including foods like olive oil, avocados, and nuts in your diet increases your intake of healthy fats. Healthy dietary fat[5] can safely make up 20%-30% of your daily intake.

Increase Protein

Protein recommendations have not changed in many years, but new studies[6] show that eating a high-protein diet decreases weight and prevents losing weight. Lean proteins increase the hormones in your gut that reduce appetite and decrease the hormone ghrelin that increases appetite. This means you will eat less and feel fuller longer. Protein also helps maintain a higher resting metabolism,[6] so your body burns calories when inactive.

Research[7] has shown protein helps post-menopausal women, in particular, lose body fat by helping maintain muscle mass, which increases metabolism. Post-menopausal women progressively lose[8] muscle mass as they age. By consuming 30% of their calories from protein, post-menopausal women could lose weight but maintain lean muscle mass while reducing calories.

Limit Sugar Intake

Limiting sugar is vital. Eating sugary foods causes insulin levels[3] to surge, and fat cells respond by storing calories as fat. But because these calories are void of nutrients the body needs, it responds by increasing hunger to get the nutrition it requires. This cycle of eating high-sugar foods and resulting hunger causes weight gain.

Begin reading labels, specifically looking for added sugar. Many foods contain naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruit and dairy products. Nutrition labels often list the sugar they add to their product, so aim to reduce your intake of foods and drinks that list high levels of added sugar. Sugar adds calories to your diet that contain no nutritional value, also called empty calories.

Initially, you may have sugar cravings, but be patient and focus on your main goal. In a couple of days, you won’t feel those cravings.

Watch What You Drink

An additional change that will easily help improve health and help get rid of hanging belly fat is overhauling what you drink. Soda, juice, sports drinks, teas, and other beverages containing sugar account for half[9] the daily sugar intake for many Americans.  A 12-ounce can of soda contains nearly ten teaspoons[10] of sugar on average. The recommended[11] added sugar intake per day is less than 10% of your daily calorie intake or less than 12 teaspoons in a 2000-calorie diet.

Ideally, drinking alcohol will be avoided while trying to get rid of hanging belly fat. Alcohol[3] supplies calories with zero nutritional value. Frequently, it is combined with sugar, making it an even worse choice. Abstaining or at least limiting alcohol intake during weight loss is helpful.

Do Both Cardio And Strength Training Exercises

Regular exercise, including both cardio and strength training, will help you lose a hanging belly faster. The current recommendation[12] is to get 150 minutes of exercise each week. This should be a combination of cardio and strength training, which will produce more[13] fat loss than doing either one alone.

Cardio exercise burns calories. It can be moderate or intense and done in intervals or at one stretch. Experiment with activities until you find one you enjoy so you will stick with it.

Strength training will help build muscle, which increases resting metabolism. Muscle can be developed by lifting weights or using your body as the resistance. Both[14] methods build muscle. This flexibility in your strength training allows you to workout in a gym or at home, following an app or video.

Get Enough Quality Sleep

Sleep has emerged as an important factor in weight loss. Lack of sleep is associated with increased calorie intake through snacking, especially foods containing fat and carbohydrates. Adults who sleep[15] less than seven hours per night have higher rates of obesity, and some studies[15] have shown decreased weight loss success in those who slept less than 5.5 hours.

Poor sleep cycles may increase the level of ghrelin[15] in the body, increasing appetite. Research[15] shows that what you eat can affect sleep quality as well. Eating a diet high in saturated fat and low in fiber is associated with lighter sleep cycles. Diets high in sugar and non-sugar carbohydrates are associated with more waking at night.

Manage Your Stress

how to lose hanging belly fat
Choose effective methods to manage your stress. Photo: metamorworks/Shutterstock

Stress affects many parts of your health. Stress is an unavoidable part of life, so learning to manage and reduce it is essential. Managing stress will help you get rid of saggy belly fat.

The hormone cortisol[16] is stored in abdominal fat; the more overweight you are, the more cortisol you store. Stress and the subsequent release of glucocorticoids increase the desire to eat, especially foods high in sugar and fat. In a stressed state, your body also uses less energy, causing weight gain. People react to stress[16] in varying ways, and highly reactive individuals tend to eat more and gain more weight during times of high stress.

Consider the following suggestions to manage your stress:

  • Using an app to reduce stress.
  • Meditation.
  • Deep breathing exercises.
  • Taking a walk in nature.

What Causes Hanging Belly Fat?

When excess visceral fat deposits occur due to weight gain, they can gather in the omentum, an apron-like flap under your abdominal muscles and in front of the intestines. This is known as a pannus stomach.[17] 

Hanging belly fat can also be caused[17] by loose skin that does not tighten back into place after gaining or losing significant weight or in postpartum women. Genetics may also play a role in developing an apron belly.

How Long Does It Take To Lose Hanging Belly Fat?

There is no exact time frame for getting rid of hanging belly fat. Taking the steps to decrease calories, move your body, and lose weight is a journey.

Alternate options are available to lose hanging belly fat without surgery:

Surgery is also an option for those who qualify. An abdominoplasty[20] or “tummy tuck” removes abdominal fat and tightens belly muscles. All surgery comes with risks and should be discussed in depth with a board-certified surgeon. 

Conclusion

If hanging belly fat is causing you mental or physical discomfort, it may be time to learn how to get rid of it. Losing a saggy belly will make you feel better and improve your overall health.

In the meantime, if you are experiencing physical discomfort from a hanging belly, here are a few suggestions:

  • Support bands or compression clothing may help conceal your hanging belly and relieve back pain. 
  • Be sure to keep the skin beneath your belly clean and dry. Skin irritation and rashes can develop, especially if moisture is underneath the hanging belly. 
  • If skin problems develop, try using an anti-chaffing ointment to reduce friction between the skin. If skin problems worsen, have a bad odor, or develop redness or open sores, see your doctor right away. 

Losing enough weight to get rid of hanging belly fat is a process. If it seems overwhelming, start small, make one or two changes, work on those for a month, and then add a couple more. If you have the resources, explore working with a registered dietician or personal trainer. 

Getting rid of hanging belly fat involves making intelligent changes to how you care for yourself, but you’re worth it!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to lose a hanging belly?

Yes, but it will take time and effort to make lifestyle changes.

How do I get rid of saggy belly fat?

Reducing calories, exercising, prioritizing sleep, and reducing stress help eliminate saggy belly fat.

How long does it take to lose hanging belly fat?

There is no definite timeframe for losing hanging belly fat.

Can you lose hanging belly fat with diet?

Yes, adjusting your diet and evaluating your calorie and macro intake are some of the best steps you can take to lose hanging belly fat.

What causes hanging belly fat?

Hanging belly fat, or apron belly, is caused by excess fat deposited in the omentum, found under the abdominal muscles and in front of the intestines.

How do you get rid of a hanging stomach fast?

Getting rid of stomach fat cannot be done quickly. Any method that claims it can, will not work, or will not be safe. The slow, steady reduction of body weight overall will eliminate hanging stomach fat.

+ 20 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Stetson, RN, BSN, MS is a nurse writer focusing on health and wellness. She has been a nurse for more than 30 years, working in a variety of specialties and with a diverse population. She… See More