The belly is one of the worst places to lose fat. For some reason, no matter how hard you try, how clean you eat, or how many crunches you do, belly fat just seems to stick.

It’s like that pesky little fly that won’t leave you alone, no matter how many times you swat at it.

If spot reduction were a thing, we’d all target our bellies.

And while people may tell you to do more crunches, target your abs, and do things that activate your core muscles, exercise is only going to take you so far.

Sure, it will help you burn more calories and build up your abdominal muscles, but when fat loss is what you’re after, sometimes you need an extra boost.

That’s where fat-burning supplements come into the picture.

They’re specifically formulated to reduce overall body fat levels, thereby keeping you trim and slim, and finally kick that stubborn belly fat to the curb.

Interested in what they are?

We’re giving you them right now.

The Low-down On Stubborn Belly Fat

The belly is by far the hardest place to lose fat, and it can be super frustrating trying to do so.

As much as we love to think that doing ab exercises will reduce it, all the crunches in the world aren’t going to help if other aspects aren’t on point.

Losing stubborn belly fat boils down to a few things:

  1. Getting your hormones under control
  2. Eating properly and eating enough
  3. Doing cardio

And when you’ve got those three things nailed, then you can add in fat-burning supplements to complement what you’re already doing.

Let’s dive into those factors a bit more.

Hormones

Whacky hormones can be a big problem for weight loss and burning fat. They control nearly everything in your body, especially your appetite and how much fat you store, so getting them under wraps can make a huge difference in fat loss.

  • Insulin: Produced by beta cells of the pancreas, insulin functions to shuttle glucose into cells for energy. It’s the main fat-storage hormone, and chronically elevated insulin can lead to obesity and metabolic syndrome.
  • Leptin: Leptin is produced by your fat cells and is the “satiety hormone” that reduces appetite and makes you feel full. Leptin resistance happens when leptin signaling is impaired, so the message to stop eating doesn’t get through to the brain, and it fails to realize you have enough stored energy 1.
  • Ghrelin: Ghrelin does the opposite of leptin—it tells your body when you’re hungry. And studies show that when overweight people eat a meal, ghrelin only decreases slightly, which means the hypothalamus doesn’t receive as strong of a signal to stop eating 2.
  • Cortisol: As your main stress hormone, cortisol is vital to survival, but when it’s chronically high, it can lead to weight gain. And interestingly, for women that carry excess belly fat, they respond to stressful events with more elevated cortisol 3, 4.
  • Estrogen: This one is especially important for women. Both high and low estrogen can lead to weight gain. For example, during menopause, low estrogen means sites for fat storage shifts from the hips and thighs to visceral fat in the abdomen.

Seems like a never-ending list… and while getting your hormones balanced isn’t the most straightforward job, it can go a long way to helping drop belly fat.

Diet

Your diet can make or break your fat loss efforts. If you’re overeating, you’re going to store it as fat. You’re eating too little and still going to store it as fat. And to add to that, if you’re eating the wrong types of foods, you’re probably still going to store it as fat, too.

It can be overwhelming and challenging to find a diet that works for you, but when you stick to the simple principle of eating when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, in addition to eating whole foods that are unprocessed and in their most natural form, chances are you won’t have any issues.

With that being said, you’ll also want to avoid going overboard on the carbohydrates, as excess carbs are broken down into glucose and stored as fat. Protein and fats, on the other hand, are less likely to be stored as fat and more likely to be burned for energy or utilized for protein synthesis.

Aim for higher protein and fat intake, moderate carbs, and load up on the veggies.

Exercise

If you talk to anyone about exercise and fat loss, they’ll tell you cardio is king. And while cardio is definitely needed to increase heart rate and burn calories, resistance (strength) training is still necessary if you want to burn fat.

There are two types of training:

  1. Aerobic: Aerobic training requires oxygen. It is activities that primarily involve type I muscle fibers and helps to increase muscle endurance and cardiovascular function. Aerobic activity can generally be sustained for a longer period than anaerobic and works at a rate of 50-70% of VO2max. It includes things like jogging, swimming, or biking.
  2. Anaerobic: Anaerobic training is the opposite. It’s exercise that doesn’t require oxygen and primarily works the type II muscle fibers, which leads to greater muscle growth and increased strength. With anaerobic training, you’re working at 90-100% of VO2max, which means oxygen and lactic acid build-up, and you start to feel the burn. Anaerobic activity generally can’t be sustained for extended periods.

But when it comes to fat loss, resistance training takes the crown. It’s the best way to build muscle, and more muscle means higher resting energy expenditure.

Muscle tissue requires more energy to function, even at rest, than fat tissue, so the more muscle mass you have, the more calories and fat you burn.

Basically, if you’re looking to burn belly fat, you need to combine both aerobic and anaerobic training.

The Best Supplements For Fat Loss

Like we said before, diet, exercise, and hormonal balance are huge players in the fat loss game. But even when you have those under wraps, sometimes stubborn belly fat just wants to hang on.

In cases like that, supplements come into the picture. They’re specifically designed to boost metabolism, burn fat, shed weight, control appetite, and improve performance.

Here are our favorites:

1. Cayenne Pepper Extract (Capsaicin)

You know the heat you get when you eat chili peppers? That same heat can actually crank up your body temperature to help you burn more calories and boost fat loss.

Capsaicin, the active component of chili peppers, is a potent thermogenic agent that may reduce appetite, increase thermogenesis, and boost lipolysis (fat breakdown).

That’s because capsaicin is an agonist of the transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily member 1 (TRPV1) 5. Here’s where things sound slightly confusing. TRPV1 releases something called substance P, which in turn activates neurokinin-1.

Activation of this post-synaptic receptor activates the sympathetic nervous system and causes a subsequent release of epinephrine (EPI) and norepinephrine (NE).

Both epinephrine and norepinephrine interact with hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL), which plays a role in triglyceride (fat) breakdown and increases the concentration of circulating free fatty acids (FFA) and glycerol which are then burned for fuel 6. Long story short, more fuel to burn in the form of fat means more significant fat loss. Make sense?

2. Coleus Forskohlii

Coleus forskohlii is a plant native to India that has been used for centuries due to its high concentration of alkaloids—plant compounds that have some pretty powerful biological effects.

But the reason we love it as a belly fat burner is because it exerts its effects by acting directly on adenylate cyclase, an enzyme that activates cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). One of the roles of cAMP in the body is to promote fat breakdown in adipose tissue 7.

Wait, there’s more. It also helps to regulate the body’s thermogenic response to food, boost basal metabolic rate (BMR), and increase utilization of body fat 8, which theoretically should increase thermogenesis and enhance fat loss.

3. Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB)

HMB has become increasingly popular in the fitness world because of its ability to burn fat while maintaining muscle mass. If you’re training hard but are still struggling with your belly fat, HMB is for you. You can keep your gains but lose your belly.

It’s great for supporting fat loss because it plays prominent roles in protein metabolism, insulin activity, and skeletal muscle hypertrophy 9.

As a by-product of leucine breakdown—an important amino acid involved in muscle protein synthesis—HMB is an essential ergogenic acid with effects working through a few different mechanisms:

  • Inhibiting muscle protein breakdown
  • Increasing muscle protein synthesis via the mTOR pathway
  • Stimulating growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 (GH/IGF-1)
  • Enhancing muscle stem cell proliferation and differentiation

4. Omega-3s

You probably think omega-3s do a better job of protecting your heart than helping you lose belly fat, but they actually do both.

Studies show that people with diets rich in omega-3s tend to have significantly lower total body fat stores than people with diets rich in other fatty acids 10.

The mechanisms behind how omega-3s can boost fat loss aren’t completely clear, but there are a few possibilities 11:

  • EPA and DHA are exceptional at suppressing lipogenic gene expression, which limits the endogenous production of lipids
  • They increase oxidation of lipids and enhance CAT1 enzyme activity to increase fatty acid transport (mitochondria burn fatty acids for fuel)
  • Increase thermogenesis
  • Other indirect pathways involving inhibition of enzymes that reduce the activity of CAT1

Basically, if you want to maximize your fat gain, taking an omega-3 supplement like Performance Lab Omega-3 definitely can’t hurt.

It’s super clean DHA and EPA derived from algae—the cleanest, safest, and most potent source of omega-3 fatty acids. No contamination, no rancidity, no worries, just clean fats that boost fat loss and improve overall health and performance.

5. Protein

Protein is a staple in anyone’s diet, whether you’re looking to burn fat or build muscle. But studies suggest that protein is particularly effective at reducing belly fat.

Research actually shows that increasing protein intake can reduce cravings by up 60%, boost metabolism by 80–100 calories per day, and help you eat less 12-14.

Referring back to those hormones we talked about before, protein helps regulate many hormones controlling appetite and weight 15, 16.

By increasing levels of the satiety hormones GLP-1, peptide YY, and cholecystokinin, and by reducing levels of your hunger hormone ghrelin, a higher protein intake can go a long way in regulating appetite, reducing food intake, and burning fat.

Whether it’s a plant-based protein powder like Performance Lab Protein or an animal-based one, increasing your daily protein intake not only supports blasting belly fat but also contributes to increased muscle mass, which also supports fat burning and weight loss.

Final Thoughts

Abdominal fat is one of the most challenging areas to target when it comes to fat loss. Everything else seems to tone up pretty quickly, and then you’re left with this little layer of fat that holds on for dear life.

Aside from the supplements we’ve mentioned here, maintaining consistency with diet and exercise are two of the easiest things you can do to cut back on belly fat.

Reduce your carb intake, increase protein, focus on fiber, watch your portion sizes, stay hydrated, and make sure you’re doing both cardio and strength training.

Once you’ve got these under control, you’ll start to see the belly fat melt away. 

References

  1. R Yang, LA Barouch. Leptin signaling and obesity: cardiovascular consequences. Circ Res. 2007;101(6):545-559.
  2. M Tschöp, C Weyer, PA Tataranni, V Devanarayan, E Ravussin, ML Heiman. Circulating ghrelin levels are decreased in human obesity. Diabetes. 2001;50(4):707-709.
  3. V Vicennati, L Ceroni, L Gagliardi, A Gambineri, R Pasquali. Comment: response of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis to high-protein/fat and high-carbohydrate meals in women with different obesity phenotypes. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;87(8):3984-3988.
  4. AE Moyer, J Rodin, CM Grilo, N Cummings, LM Larson, M Rebuffé-Scrive. Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women. Obes Res. 1994;2(3):255-262.
  5. RJ Bloomer, RE Canale, S Shastri, S Suvarnapathki. Effect of oral intake of capsaicinoid beadlets on catecholamine secretion and blood markers of lipolysis in healthy adults: a randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind, cross-over study. Lipids Health Dis. 2010;9:72.
  6. JW Jocken, EE Blaak. Catecholamine-induced lipolysis in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle in obesity. Physiol Behav. 2008;94(2):219-230.
  7. I Litosch, TH Hudson, I Mills, SY Li, JN Fain. Forskolin as an activator of cyclic AMP accumulation and lipolysis in rat adipocytes. Mol Pharmacol. 1982;22(1):109-115.
  8. S Henderson, B Magu, C Rasmussen, et al. Effects of coleus forskohlii supplementation on body composition and hematological profiles in mildly overweight women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2005;2(2):54-62.
  9. P Kaczka, MM Michalczyk, R Jastrząb, M Gawelczyk, K Kubicka. Mechanism of Action and the Effect of Beta-Hydroxy-Beta-Methylbutyrate (HMB) Supplementation on Different Types of Physical Performance - A Systematic Review. J Hum Kinet. 2019;68:211-222.
  10. EE Noreen, MJ Sass, ML Crowe, VA Pabon, J Brandauer, LK Averill. Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010;7:31.
  11. EE Noreen, MJ Sass, ML Crowe, VA Pabon, J Brandauer, LK Averill. Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010;7:31.
  12. HJ Leidy, M Tang, CL Armstrong, CB Martin, WW Campbell. The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011;19(4):818-824.
  13. CS Johnston, CS Day, PD Swan. Postprandial thermogenesis is increased 100% on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21(1):55-61.
  14. DS Weigle, PA Breen, CC Matthys, et al. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(1):41-48.
  15. MP Lejeune, KR Westerterp, TC Adam, N Luscombe-Marsh, MS Westerterp-Plantenga. Ghrelin and glucagon-like peptide 1 concentrations, 24-h satiety, and energy and substrate metabolism during a high-protein diet and measured in a respiration chamber. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(1):89-94.
  16. WA Blom, A Lluch, A Stafleu, et al. Effect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(2):211-220.