The Effect of Heat on Belly Fat

It seems like there's always a new fad around the corner that claims to be the belly fat killer. While alternative methods of burning fat have questionable results, simply eating right and staying in shape are more reliable options. Although it would be nice to think an application of heat would be enough to cut down on belly fat, the science behind this theory is still being proven.

Belly Dangers

Belly fat can be detrimental to your health whether you're a man or a woman, so getting the fat under control should be a top priority. Fat in your abdomen is problematic because it's not just subcutaneous fat under the skin; it also consists of visceral fat that surrounds your internal organs. Belly fat is linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes and heart problems, along with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Plastic Wrap

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One myth is that wrapping your belly in plastic wrap or a special body wrap material will generate excess heat on your belly that will help it burn fat faster. This doesn't work. You may get on the scale later and find that you're lighter, but this is only because the wrap caused you to lose a little more water weight, not fat. In fact, these methods can be dangerous because they stop your body from cooling itself off properly by not allowing your sweat to dry.


Saunas have also been posited as a method of heating your body and helping you burn excess belly fat in the process, but this theory doesn't pan out. According to Harvard Medical School's website, the only health benefits saunas bring are relaxing you and increasing your feeling of well-being. In fact, saunas can be dangerous for people with heart problems and blood pressure issues.

Heat-Generating Cells

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A more promising application of heat on belly fat was found in a 2012 study by Ohio State University researchers, published in the journal "Biomaterials." In this study, mice were injected with capsules that had heat-generating cells in them. The capsules were injected directly into their abdomens and after 80 days of treatment, the mice lost 20 percent of their abdominal fat. The amount of visceral fat, the most dangerous kind, was reduced and at least partially replaced by brown fat cells, which use fat to generate heat for the body. The medicine still has to be tested on humans, but the researchers believe it holds promise.

What Works

The tried-and-true methods of cutting down belly fat have nothing to do with special heat application devices. Belly-targeted exercises, while building muscles, won't cut down on the fat specifically in the abdomen area either. Instead, belly fat is reduced as your overall fat levels come down. Working out with a cardio exercise such as brisk walking or jogging for 30 minutes a day, six days a week, will help cut down on your belly fat. Strength training will also help. You'll also need to change your diet, eating lean protein and complex, fiber-filled carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables instead of simple carbs like sugary sodas and white bread.