First things first: Wanting to get rid of your belly fat does not make you vain. A wider waistline is associated with many serious health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. And belly fat doesn't discriminate: Research suggests normal-weight people who carry extra fat around their middles actually have a higher risk of dying early than people who are obese but carry their fat more evenly across their whole bodies.
Unfortunately there's no quick fix for a flatter belly, but there are many simple lifestyle changes that can help you gradually whittle down your middle and improve your overall health. Here are some science-backed tips ranked from least to most effective so you have a sense of what works best.More
This comes last for a very important reason: You can't spot-reduce fat by doing crunches — or any exercise, for that matter — but you can tone your middle by strengthening your abs. Just make sure you're doing the right kind of crunches so you don't hurt your back or neck. The standard bicycle crunch is the best, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
Now this is a hack we can get behind! In several small studies, researchers have found links between eating dark chocolate and reductions in abdominal fat. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are thought to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance. To get the most antioxidant bang for your buck, make sure you're eating chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa, and don't go overboard — chocolate is still high in calories and sugar.