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20 Ways to Shrink Your Belly in 20 Days

These expert-endorsed tips will help you shave inches off your waistline.
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

There is some good news and bad news when it comes to shrinking your waistline, starting with the bad: Despite what some influencers want you to believe, you can't really lose weight or blast belly fat in 24 hours. The good? If you are consistent and incorporate effective health habits into your lifestyle, you can drop a clothing size in 24 days. "It's literally impossible to shrink your belly in 24 hours," says Chris McMahon, a nutrition and fitness coach. Even if you notice your weight dropping on the scale, "is water weight," he adds, and "the scale fluctuates day to day." However, "you could drop inches in your midsection in 20 to 30 days," he says. Here are 20 ways to do it. 

1

Write Down Everything You Eat

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The first thing you should do is "take stock of what your nutrition is like, whether that be just writing everything down, you don't even have to track calories, but actually write down everything that you are eating, even liquids," says McMahon. 

Related: 10 Foods That Grow Muscle Fast

2

Assess Your List

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Once you write down your list – even oils and butter, salad dressing, and the things you eat off your kid's plate – take an honest assessment. "All of those little things stack up," he says. For example, if you have two coffees a day, but drown them in half-and-half, "there's a huge portion of calories," he says. "Just to be honest with yourself and figure out what you're actually consuming."

3

Get Workouts In

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Next up? Activity. He suggests getting in a few workouts per week, like fitness classes or a Peloton ride. However, "you also have to consider what you are doing the other 23 hours and 15 minutes of the day."

4

Keep Tracks of Your Steps

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"An easy way to do that is to just look at your total overall step count and your activity level," says McMahon. While he doesn't necessarily believe that 10,000 steps is the magic metric, if you look down at your watch and notice you are only taking 3000 steps a day, amp up activity. 

Related: I Sculpted My Arms With These 4 Simple Tricks

5

Take Walk Breaks Throughout the Day

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To get more active during the day, McMahon suggests taking 10 minute walks. "A 10 minute walk is equal to a thousand steps. So if you think of it that way, it's like, "Oh, okay, I can take short little walk breaks."

6

Consider Bloating

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If you feel "fluffy" or "bloated," he suggests considering your hormones. "If you're a woman, it could boil down to where you are in your cycle hormonally, that's just going to make you feel a little bit fluffier. You're retaining water." If you stopped eating carbs and then suddenly started eating them again and noticed bloating, "it's not fat, you've gained some water weight." Also, if you had a saltier meal "that's going to lead to bloating and it's water weight." 

7

Hydration

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McMahon encourages hydration if you want to lose weight. According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine men should drink about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day and women about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids. The Mayo Clinic adds that hydration is important for a variety of reasons. Water helps get rid of waste through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements, keeps your temperature normal, lubricates and cushions joints, and helps protect sensitive tissues.

Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Taking Ozempic

8

Improve Sleep Habits

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If your sleep has been off or is very poor, "that leads to a rise in cortisol," says McMahon. "It also messes with the hunger and fullness hormones in your body. So you're more likely to make poor nutritional choices the next day."

9

Stress

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Getting your stress in control will also help shrink your waistline, as "daily stress also contributes to cortisol levels increasing. 

10

Don't Pay Attention to the Scale

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For many of these reasons, the scale isn't always an accurate portrayal of your changing body. "Even if you're working out, you'll see the scale go up and things of that nature because you're retaining water and glycogen, which is an energy form that we can keep in our muscles," he says. 

11

Avoid Ultra Restrictive Diets

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It may be tempting to go on a fad diet, but don't do it. "Doing ultra restrictive diets, that's what doesn't work," says McMahon. "And it's not that the diet itself doesn't work, you'll lose the weight. It's just you'll gain it back very fast."

Related: 5 Secrets to Success Before You Start Your Next Diet

12

But Stay in a Consistent Calorie Deficit

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"The best way to actually shrink your stomach would be to be in a consistent calorie deficit," McMahon adds. "There's no way around it. People say that diets don't work. That's not true."

13

Find a Sustainable Way to Eat

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He also suggests finding a way of eating that's more sustainable, "which means including the things you love having," he says. "If your kids love having pizza and you do pizza night, you shouldn't skip the pizza. You should enjoy the pizza, but also understand the choices that you're making and where it kind of fits with you."

14

Don't Drink Your Calories

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While you can drink flavored water, if you want to lose weight you should not be drinking your calories, says McMahon. 

15

Amp Up Fiber Intake

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When it comes to nutrition, ",make sure you're getting plenty of fiber," says McMahon, as it is "connected to hunger and fullness."

16

Amp Up Protein Intake

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"For most individuals who are trying to lean out, we want to make sure that your protein intake is high, because that will help with hunger and fullness," says McMahon. "It'll also help with preserving the muscle mass you have. And if you are lifting weights and you are training, it'll help you build muscle and recover. So we want to make sure that's higher."

17

Opt for Lean Protein

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If your goal is to actually get leaner, you should gravitate toward leaner sources of protein, McMahon suggests. "And we want to think of sources of protein that the ratio of fat is lower. Fat just tends to be a more expensive macronutrient. In one gram of protein, there's four calories in one gram of fat, there's nine calories. So if you're someone who's used to eating fattier pieces of steak, if you're eating darker meat, then you're going to have higher fat content. So it just comes down to if I eat a leaner source of protein, if I switch to non-fat, Greek yogurt, if I switch to 1% cottage cheese, if I'm aware of those things, you're going to be able to increase the amount of it that you're eating without driving up your calories."

Related: 13 Proven Workouts for Building a Powerful Chest

18

Drink Green Tea or Coffee

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As far as liquids go, "green tea is awesome if you enjoy green tea, coffee is awesome if you enjoy coffee," says McMahon. However, while they might make you less hungry, they won't directly help you lose weight.  

19

Fast If It Works for You

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While "there's nothing magical" about fasting, "if you're someone with a really busy schedule or you're just not hungry in the morning and you don't tend to get hungry until 10 or 11," there isn't anything wrong with fasting but it won't "suddenly transform your body or reset your aging clock or your biological clock," he says. "All you're doing is just cutting a portion of your calories out."

20

Avoid Diet Tea

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While there are lots of diet teas on the market endorsed by influencers who claim they helped them lose weight, it's just a gimmick, says McMahon.

💪🔥Body Booster: If you want to shrink your belly fast the most important factor is remaining in a calorie deficit, which generally involves exercising more and eating less. 

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more