How many carbs should I eat to lose belly fat?

When it comes to losing belly fat, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to reducing carbs. The optimal carb intake depends on many factors like your age, gender, activity levels, current weight and more. However, research shows that cutting back on carbs can help reduce abdominal fat when combined with other healthy habits.

How Do Carbs Relate to Belly Fat?

Carbs are your body’s main source of energy. When you eat more carbs than your body needs immediately, the excess is converted into glycogen and stored in your muscles and liver. Once your glycogen stores are full, any additional carbs get converted into fat.

Abdominal or visceral fat surrounds your organs and contributes to belly fat. Eating too many refined carbs like white bread, sugary snacks and pasta can drive fat storage, especially around your midsection.

So reducing your overall carb intake can help decrease belly fat storage and promote fat burning instead. However, not all carbs are created equal when it comes to your waistline.

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs

Some carbs are more likely to encourage belly fat than others:

Carbs That May Increase Belly Fat

  • Refined grains like white bread, pasta and white rice
  • Fruit juices
  • Sugary foods like baked goods, candy and ice cream
  • Sugary beverages like soda, energy drinks and specialty coffee drinks

These high glycemic index foods cause rapid spikes in your blood sugar. This leads to increased insulin levels, which can boost fat storage around your belly.

Carbs That May Decrease Belly Fat

  • Whole grains like quinoa, oats, brown rice and barley
  • Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash and peas
  • Fruits, especially berries
  • Legumes like beans, lentils and chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds

These foods contain fiber, protein and healthy fats which help slow digestion, promote lasting energy and may help reduce abdominal fat over time.

How Many Carbs Per Day to Lose Belly Fat?

There’s no definitive carb intake that guarantees belly fat loss for everyone. However, these general carbohydrate guidelines may help trim your waistline:


  • Sedentary: 90-150 grams per day
  • Moderately Active: 135-185 grams per day
  • Active: 170-220 grams per day


  • Sedentary: 120-180 grams per day
  • Moderately Active: 180-240 grams per day
  • Active: 240-300 grams per day

As a general rule, aim for a maximum of 2-3 servings of starchy carbs and 2-3 servings of fruit per day. Load up on non-starchy veggies at meals and snacks too.

To put this in perspective, here’s how many carb servings that is:

  • 1 serving of grains: 1 slice bread, 1 ounce pasta, 1/2 cup grains
  • 1 serving fruit: 1 medium piece, 1 cup berries
  • 1 serving starchy veg: 1/2 cup corn, 1 medium potato

Make sure to also limit added sugars to less than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons per day for women and 36 grams or 9 teaspoons for men.

Other Diet Tips to Lose Belly Fat

Although cutting carbs can help reduce belly fat, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Here are some other diet and lifestyle changes that can sculpt your midsection:

Up Your Protein Intake

Eating more protein can help reduce abdominal fat. Aim for 0.5-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Include lean protein sources like chicken, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, beans, nuts and seeds at meals and snacks.

Reduce Refined Sugar

Decreasing your intake of added sugars and limiting sugary beverages is crucial. Artificial sweeteners won’t do the trick either.

Fill Up On Fiber

Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel, helping slow digestion. Aim for foods that provide 5-10 grams per serving.

Don’t Fear Healthy Fat

Despite decades of low-fat dieting advice, restricting fats can actually stall fat loss. Enjoy moderate portions of nuts, olive oil, avocado and fatty fish.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking more water may help temporarily increase metabolism and reduce water retention. Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses daily.

How to Determine Your Carb Tolerance

Tracking your food intake and body measurements for a few weeks can help you identify the carb intake that works best for you and your body composition goals.

Here’s a simple process to find your carb tolerance:

  1. Calculate your calorie needs based on your age, gender, weight and activity level.
  2. Aim for a balanced diet of 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs to start.
  3. Weigh yourself and take measurements after 1-2 weeks.
  4. Adjust your carb intake up or down by 5-10 grams and reassess progress after another 1-2 weeks. Repeat as needed.
  5. Once you’re losing fat consistently, you’ve likely found your carb sweet spot.

Make sure to also strength train and do cardio for optimal fat burning. Tracking your food and progress over time can help fine-tune a carb intake that works for your body.

Sample Low-Carb Day for Belly Fat Loss

Here is an example of what a lower-carb day may look like when trying to lose belly fat. It provides about 135 grams of total carbs.


  • Scrambled eggs with spinach and feta cheese
  • Berries
  • Coffee with milk


  • Tuna salad stuffed in tomatoes drizzled with olive oil
  • Carrots sticks
  • Apple with peanut butter


  • Pan seared chicken breast
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Quinoa


  • Plain Greek yogurt with nuts and chia seeds


  • Water
  • Unsweetened iced tea

This meal plan provides lean protein, healthy fats, high-fiber carbs and plenty of non-starchy vegetables. Tracking your intake for a few days can help identify areas to modify to optimize belly fat burning.


Reducing overall carb intake to 90-300 grams per day may help reduce excess belly fat, especially when combined with other healthy eating strategies. Focus on getting most carbs from high fiber, nutrient-dense sources and minimizing sugar and refined grains.

Tracking your progress while experimenting with different carb intakes can help determine the ideal carb range for your unique body and goals. Pair your diet plan with strength training, cardio and other lifestyle changes to maximize fat burning and achieve sustainable weight loss.

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