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15 Habits Stop to Lose Stomach Fat for Summer

These behaviors are terrible for your waistline.
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

Summer is just a few months away, so now is the time to really put the effort into getting rid of any unwanted belly fat. "We're not sure why belly fat is increasing, but we know people in the United States have become less active over the past several decades," James de Lemos, MD, tells UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Portion sizes at restaurants also have gotten larger. People seem to have less free time in their lives, and they are resorting to processed foods and fast food more often." Belly fat is not only uncomfortable but dangerous. Here are 15 things to stop doing immediately if you want to lose belly fat for summer.

Stop Drinking Your Calories

Soft drinks

Studies show drinking sugary sodas—even with artificial sweeteners—can lead to excess belly fat. "These results are consistent with a growing body of research in both humans and animals, showing that frequent consumption of diet soda or artificial sweeteners is associated with greater body mass index (BMI), obesity and metabolic syndrome," Laura A. Schmidt, PhD, MSW, MPH, says via University of California news.

Stop Taking the Elevator


Walk as much as you can to burn belly fat and keep it off. "We burn fat during a walk, but what's even better is that walking consistently primes our bodies to be better at using fat for fuel, meaning that we become better fat burners even at rest," says Lindsay Allen, MS, RDN.

Stop Staying Up Too Late


Sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to getting rid of belly fat. Research shows poor sleep and belly fat are linked. "Normally, fat is preferentially deposited subcutaneously or under the skin," Virend Somers, MD, PhD, the Alice Sheets Marriott Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, tells the Mayo Clinic News Network. "However, the inadequate sleep appears to redirect fat to the more dangerous visceral compartment."

RELATED: 15 Superfoods to Improve Memory and Focus in Your 50s

Stop Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Waiter pouring red wine in a glass.

Alcohol is not only empty calories, but it can seriously derail your fat loss efforts. "Alcohol contains calories but little to no nutrients, so they can be considered wasted calories," says Kelli Santiago, board-certified sports dietitian and wellness coach at University Hospitals. "And alcohol lowers your inhibitions and increases the sensitivity of the reward centers of your brain. So not only do we tend to eat more unhealthy foods when we drink alcohol, but the food we do eat tastes really, really good, which also leads us to eat more quantity."

Stop Skipping the Gym


Regular workouts help get rid of fat all over, including the belly. "Aerobic exercise gives your metabolism a boost during and for a short time after exercise," psychologist and registered dietitian David Creel, PhD, tells the Cleveland Clinic. "Exercise may also have indirect positive benefits on weight, like better sleep and stress reduction."

Stop Eating Junk Food

Fast food concept. Unhealthy food. Unhealthy food and fast food with donuts, chocolate, burgers and sweets top view

Junk food is terrible for your health and your waistline. "Four of the top six killers are related to an inadequate diet, which in the U.S. is probably largely due to convenient, safe, inexpensive food that we eat too much of," Christopher Gardner, the director of nutrition studies at Stanford University, tells NPR. "Too much of it leads to obesity and type two diabetes and heart disease and cancer."

Stop Sitting All Day

A young man is sitting on a sofa with a remote control and a smartphone

Studies show sitting for hours is linked to dangerous belly fat. "Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns," Edward R. Laskowski, MD, tells the Mayo Clinic. "They include obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and unhealthy cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome."

Stop Avoiding Fat


Healthy fat such as from avocados, fish, and olive oil encourage satiety. "Fat helps give your body energy, protects your organs, supports cell growth, keeps cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps your body absorb vital nutrients," Vasanti Malik, a research scientist with the Department of Nutrition at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, tells Harvard Health. "When you focus too much on cutting out all fat, you can actually deprive your body of what it needs most."

RELATED: 20 Breakfast Ideas to Lose Fat

Stop Getting Dehydrated


Water is essential to fat loss—when you are dehydrated, your body doesn't recover as quickly from workouts. You might also confuse thirst for hunger. "When muscle cells are dehydrated, they break down protein (aka muscle) more quickly and build muscle more slowly, so your workouts are much less effective," Melina Jampolis, an internist and board-certified physician nutrition specialist, tells Johns Hopkins Health.

Stop Ignoring Protein

Woman cutting chicken fillet in kitchen, closeup

Protein is important for satiety and muscle growth. Studies show people who eat more protein tend to have less belly fat. "Eating lean protein with meals and snacks is a good way to increase satiety and decrease total caloric intake," Deborah Kurzrock, RD, says via Sutter Health. "Studies show that people who eat protein with breakfast will eat fewer calories throughout the day than those who do not consume protein with their breakfast."

Stop Eating So Much Sugar


"Avoid foods that are high in simple sugars or saturated fat," says Dr. de Lemos. "The Mediterranean Diet, which incorporates lots of olive oil, can reduce your risks. There is some evidence that suggests vegetable oil may cause fat to collect in the abdominal region, while olive oil consumption may promote fat going to less-harmful areas of the body."

Stop Letting Stress Take Over

Portrait of stressed young housewife in modern kitchen

You can be doing everything right to get rid of belly fat but stress will undermine your efforts. "In fact, stress can create many physical challenges and changes in your body if not managed properly," says the United States Coast Guard. For example, when you're stressed you might find yourself eating more junk food, or 'stress eating,' even when you're not hungry. Stress can also slow your metabolism and make it harder to burn fat, particularly belly fat."

RELATED: 10 Habits for Keeping Off Fat Forever

Stop Smoking

closeup woman hand smoking cigarette ,unhealthy lifestyle concept

Smoking is terrible for your health, and studies show it encourages abdominal fat. "The influence of smoking on belly fat seems to happen regardless of other factors such as socioeconomic status, alcohol use, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or how much of a risk-taker someone is," Germán Carrasquilla, an assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen, tells The Times.

Stop Snacking All Day

woman eats sweets at night to sneak in a refrigerator.

Try intermittent fasting to put a stop to mindless snacking. "Your body goes into starvation mode and when it runs out of a carbohydrate source for fuel, it will start going to fat sources," bariatric surgery coordinator Kristen Smith, MS, RD, tells Piedmont Health. "That puts your body into ketosis where it starts burning fat."

Stop Being Inconsistent


Make goals that are realistic and sustainable in the long run. You don't need to follow fad diets that leave you miserable and ready to throw in the towel. Just stick to consistent healthy behaviors that not only help you lose weight but also help make you happy.

💪🔥Body Booster: Getting rid of dangerous belly fat is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more