No Shortcuts

There are several pills available over the counter that promise to reduce levels of cortisol in your body or to specifically burn belly fat. However, these pills aren't regulated by the FDA, and there's no scientific research to back up their claims. Notice that all weight-loss pills will say something like "in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise." There's nothing you can take that will let you burn belly fat while you just sit around and eat junk food, so be wary.

Blast That Belly

Plastic surgery such as liposuction can remove subcutaneous fat but not visceral fat. Researchers in Brazil have discovered that if you have lipo to remove the former, your body could compensate with an increase in the latter unless you have a diet and exercise regimen going.

You can't do anything about aging or heredity, but if you have developed belly fat, you can still work to combat it. A lot of people think that exercises targeting the stomach area, such as sit-ups or crunches, are the way to go. These types of exercises tone and tighten muscles, but they can't do anything about fat. Instead, focus on losing fat overall via vigorous aerobic exercise -- preferably 30 minutes or more most days of the week. Start slow and build up. You don't have to run to get good cardio; brisk walking, dancing and bicycling all count, too. Strength training, meaning lifting weights, may also help get rid of visceral belly fat. Building muscle raises your metabolism so you can burn more calories. You might also consider incorporating core-strengthening exercises like planks.

What you eat also makes a difference. To reduce belly fat, avoid foods that contain trans fats, a type of fat found in many prepackaged cookies, crackers and baked goods, as well as some fried fast foods. Not only can trans fats pack on the pounds, but research conducted at Wake Forest University has also shown that they can add fat specifically to your belly and even redistribute fat there from other areas of the body.

Sugar also increases belly fat. Eat whole grains as well as lots of fruits and vegetables. Foods high in fiber not only keep you full longer but they also lower insulin levels and may shrink fat cells. A diet rich in healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados, almonds and peanuts may also cause fat to break down. Your best beverage is always going to be water. It flushes out fat and keeps down bloat, and drinking lots of it keeps you from thinking you're hungry when you're actually thirsty.

The final key to losing belly fat is to de-stress. Easier said than done, right? One way to lower stress is to get enough sleep, ideally eight hours each night. Find ways to diffuse stressful situations -- through yoga, meditation or journaling.

While there's no one way to lose belly fat, that's no reason to give up. It has nothing to do with how you look in a swimsuit and everything to do with staying healthy.