Is It Healthy to Have a Little Belly Fat?

Medically Reviewed on 4/28/2022
Is It Healthy to Have a Little Belly Fat
While it’s healthy to have a little belly fat, too much is obviously not good for you. Learn about different types of belly fat and how to lose excess weight around your middle

Having a little belly fat is both normal and healthy, as it helps protect your organs and insulate your body. However, too much fat—especially visceral fat—is not healthy.

What are the different types of belly fat?

There are two types of belly fat: subcutaneous and visceral.

  • Subcutaneous belly fat is the fat that is found under your skin.
  • Visceral belly fat is fat that surrounds your internal organs.

Visceral fat is dangerous because it produces adipose hormones and adipokines, which are inflammatory chemicals that get lodged in the blood vessels and organs, causing inflammation that can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

What are the ideal body fat values?

According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), your total body fat (including subcutaneous and abdominal fat) should be about:

  • 14%-20% for women
  • 6%-13% for men

However, these ranges vary depending on factors such as underlying health conditions.

How to lose excess belly fat

Although it is healthy to have a little belly fat, it is also important to lose excess belly fat in order to maintain optimal health.

Stress, sleep and relaxation are important aspects of your lifestyle because they impact your hormone system, which governs nearly every activity in your body.

  • Eat healthy: Eat a diet rich in fiber and low in carbs, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean protein (fish, chicken, eggs, almonds, etc.).
  • Avoid bad fats: Avoid trans fats from processed junk food and opt for healthy fats, such as nuts and seeds, to keep your weight under control.
  • Practice mindful eating: Multitasking while eating can make you distracted and less aware of what you are putting in your body. Focusing on your meals and practicing mindful eating can help you avoid overeating and reduce unhealthy cravings.
  • Exercise: Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. You can also combine cardio with strength training workouts to build muscle and boost your metabolism, which can in turn help you burn more calories and shed excess fat.
  • Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep or sleeping on an irregular schedule can disrupt your metabolism and lead to weight gain
  • Reduce stress: Stress causes the release of cortisol in the body, which can interfere with your ability to lose belly fat. Stress can also cause you to overeat or reach for unhealthy foods. Find ways to de-stress with yoga, meditation, or hobbies that relax you and make you feel calm.


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Medically Reviewed on 4/28/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

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Harvard Health Publishing. Taking aim at belly fat.

Rush University Medical Center. Losing Belly Fat.