If you stand up straight and look straight down, and you can’t see your toes, then you probably have a pot belly. Like most people, your mind probably jumps straight to solutions like ‘more exercise’ or ‘a better diet’ as ways to reduce your pot belly naturally.
But there are actually a lot of things that contribute to a pot belly, and some of them are an easy fix.
Here are 7 effective ways to reduce your pot belly naturally.
1. Good Posture – The Quickest Way to Reduce Your Pot Belly Naturally
Stand up ‘straight’, and you’ll immediately see that your belly looks flatter.
Try it and see.
Posture is one of the easiest and most natural things to change, that will noticeably reduce your pot belly naturally. To find your ideal standing posture, try this:
- Stand with your feet slightly apart
- Make sure your knees are ‘soft’ (not locked out)
- Point your tailbone down toward the ground (push hips slightly forward)
- Lift your ribs up and straighten your spine
- Roll your shoulders back, and then down
- Pull your chin back
- Lengthen your neck, as if your head was pulling toward the ceiling.
What sorts of cues or reminders could you use to help you improve your posture?
2. Strengthen Your Core Muscles
Good posture is supported by strong muscles – especially your core muscles. Try doing pot belly exercises every week to work your core.
And there are actually many different core muscles:
- your lower (transverse) abdominals
- your ‘6-pack’ muscles (rectus abdominus)
- your diaphragm
- your pelvic floor
- your multifidus (deep muscle along your spine).
As you probably know, certain types of physical training can help to strengthen and stabilize these muscles as an important part of improving posture.
Actually, the double benefit of exercise is building and maintaining muscle mass – and this means a healthier metabolism and greater fat-burning capacity.
Common core strengthening and stabilising exercises include pilates, yoga, properly performed strength exercises, horse riding, Swiss ball exercises and balance-focussed sports (surfing, skiing etc).
3. Manage Your Alcohol Intake
Reduce your alcohol intake and you will absolutely reduce your pot belly. At Downsize Me, we’ve found that our clients who regularly drink alcohol have bigger bellies than those who don’t.
During the program, those previous ‘regular drinkers’ lose more inches off their waist – they tend to lose their pot belly fast.
Why? Well, it’s mostly due to the fact that they’re no longer drinking excess, empty calories. After all, that a bottle of wine is nearly a meals’ worth of calories.
Then of course, alcohol makes you hungry, and your inhibitions melt away, so then you reach for your fourth slice of super supreme pizza. In other words, you end up adding a full meal to that bottle of wine and that gives you a huge calorie load.
If that wasn’t bad enough, when you have too much alcohol and food together, then your metabolism lets you down.
That’s because alcohol is easy to burn, so your body starts working on that right away, at the expense of everything else.
After you’ve burnt off the alcohol, your body will start on the next easiest thing to break down – carbohydrates. Proteins will be used up next. Lastly, your body will metabolize fat.
So in conclusion, when alcohol is at the start of the metabolic queue and your metabolism is sluggish, then a big part of the meal you ate with the wine will probably be stored as fat.
Just to back that up, several studies also show that the majority of alcohol calories consumed seem to be deposited as belly fat (1).
Sigh. It seems so unfair.
4. Improve Your Water Balance
You easily can get rid of that bloated, puffy, ‘water retention’ feeling by drinking the right amount of water and managing your salt intake.
After all, your body likes equilibrium, that nice balanced state. If you don’t help your body by getting that balance right, your body will try to regulate water and salt levels on it’s own, via the process of osmosis.
Consequently, if you eat a lot of salty food and don’t balance that out with enough water, your body will take up and hold onto water, in an attempt to dilute the salt in your cells.
So if you’re feeling like a puff ball, try reducing your salt intake, and increasing water intake.
5. Watch Your Portion Size
You may not realize that portion size affects your pot belly in two ways. And portion size is one of those things that take a bit more time and effort to get right.
Consider the short term and longer term scenarios.
In the short term, eating until overfull causes your stomach to expand temporarily and stick out. It’s not rocket science to conclude that simply eating too much at one time will give you a ‘food baby’.
Luckily, that’s a temporary feeling.
But in the long term, overeating leads to fat storage. Therefore, your pot belly is gradually increased by regular overeating.
This means that you need to watch your portion size over each week, and try to listen to your body’s natural signals for fullness, so you know when you’ve had enough.
By managing portion size 85% of the time, you’ll be well on your way to shrinking your pot belly.
6. Reduce Stress
Yes, stress belly is actually a thing. If you reduce stress and manage it better, and your pot belly will start to shrink.
That’s because when you get stressed, levels of the stress hormone cortisol increase, your body dumps insulin into your blood. This process encourages fat storage and inhibits fat burning.
Why? Well, in ancient times, this fat storage process helped us save fat stores for ‘lean times’.
But let’s face it – we don’t really have many ‘lean times’ these days – just lots of stress.
Stress can come from many sources such as:
- processed food and additives
- blue lights from electronic devices including phones and tables
- chemicals (e.g. body care products)
- other toxins, and of course,
- emotional challenges.
All of these types of stressors can promote belly fat.
If you follow a hormone balancing eating plan like the one we use at Downsize Me, then you can actually lower cortisol levels and reduce your stress belly a lot quicker.
7. Check Your Carbohydrate Intake
Carb intake is relatively easy to manage, and makes a big difference to your pot belly.
Insulin resistance is one of the biggest health issues of the modern era.
Of course, there are many contributing factors, but a big one is the fact that too many carbohydrates – especially refined, processed, sugary carbohydrates – all of which can cause an imbalance in insulin and promote fat storage (2).
Unfortunately, there is a double whammy here – ageing means an increased risk of insulin resistance. In other words, you probably need to consider your carbohydrate intake a little more carefully after the age of 40.
One trick is to make sure you get the right balance of carbs, proteins and fats at each meal.
Why? There are two reasons:
If you eat a high carbohydrate diet without the right balance of proteins and fats, you’ll get hungry quicker because:
- there are no ‘satisfying’ elements in the meal (proteins and fats) that would lower your blood sugar
- then, the high-carb meal is quickly metabolized, leaving you empty and hungry, sooner, and
- the high carbohydrate content spikes your blood sugar temporarily which gives you energy. When that wears off you start looking for something sweet or starchy to increase your blood sugar again.
As you can see, it’s important to get your meal balanced properly to avoid those situations.
With all that said and done, is there one thing you could do this week to start shrinking your pot belly?
Let us know what you will do in the comments below.
(1) Boucher, Dr Stephen. 2014. Belly Fat Breakthrough – Understand What It Is and Lose It Fast.
(2) Lee, MW and Fujioka, K. 2011. Dietary precriptions for the overweight patient: the potential benefits of low-carbohydrate diets in insulin resistance http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1463-1326.2010.01328.x/full
Chief Inspiration Coach
I'm a quirky scientist and a Health and Wellness Coach who helps 35+ women to understand and eat right for their body type.