How to get a slim waist, boost your metabolism, and develop strength

Learning how to get a slim waist can help increase your metabolism and help you reach your fitness goals

Man measuring his waist
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When it comes to learning how to get a slim waist, exercise and nutrition have a big part to play. Working out helps you boost your metabolism and build muscle, while the food you eat supports your body throughout the day. 

For example, the best protein powders for weight loss can help you stay on top of your daily protein goals, as this essential nutrient keeps you fuller for longer, even between meals.

While sticking to a sustainable exercise program can help you enter into a slight calorie deficit by expending more calories than you consume. And while there is little evidence to support fat loss targeted to a specific area, toning your stomach goes hand in hand with losing weight. 

So, to help you learn how to get a slim waist or a more toned stomach, we spoke to a handful of nutritionists and personal trainers to learn the latest train of thought to get you started.

1. Try high-intensity workouts

Two people doing a HIIT workout at home

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If you're feeling uninspired by your current exercise regime, why not try high-intensity interval training (HIIT)? This form of interval training consists of short alternating periods of maximal-effort exercise with less intense recovery periods. 

According to a study published in the Sports Medicine journal, this time-efficient training style can help significantly reduce the total, abdominal, and visceral fat mass — the 'hidden' and stubborn-to-target fat that wraps around your organs, like the liver and intestines.

Meanwhile, a Journal of Exercise and Fitness study, which tasked 60 women to complete HIIT workouts three times a week for two months, resulted in an average waist circumference decrease of up to 0.6 inches/1.53 cm. 

A research paper in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal found that moderate to high-intensity exercise can increase energy expenditure for at least 22 hours following training. So try this HIIT workout for fat loss to help boost your metabolism, develop strength, and get a sweat on.  

2. Enjoy a well-balanced diet

Along with exercise, good nutrition is also a huge part of losing weight, and sticking to a sustainable diet can help you keep the weight off for good. 

Signe Svanfeldt, a lead nutritionist from health eating app Lifesum, says, "when wanting to lose weight, it's important to fill your diet with nutrient-dense foods in order to get all nutrients required while still being within your energy requirement."

Nutrient-dense foods include the likes of:

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Wholegrains
  • Legumes (beans and lentils)
  • Protein (egg, fish, beans, lentils, poultry)
  • Unsaturated fats (nuts, fatty fish, and seeds) which provide essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6. 

Svanfeldt adds: "If you want to lose weight, you should try to eat less ultra-processed foods, such as baked goods, sweets, ice cream and fast foods, as they contain high amounts of energy and are low in nutrients. It can then be challenging to stay within your energy requirements while still getting all the nutrients required."

Signe Svanfeldt headshot
Signe Svanfeldt

Signe Svanfeldt is a food science and nutrition specialist and works as an in-house nutritionist at the healthy eating app, Lifesum. She helps the Lifesum community understand food and its effect on our physical and mental health. Signe is currently pursuing her Master's degree in food science and nutrition and enjoys helping people make healthier eating choices.

3. Limit your alcohol intake

The relationship between abdominal obesity and alcohol has long been discussed. In one Epidemiology and Health study, researchers found that a high alcohol intake had a link to high waist circumference. While a second study, published in the Public Health Nutrition journal, came to the same conclusion. 

Researchers stated: "Our study showed that the amount of alcohol drinking per occasion influenced abdominal obesity in normal-weight, middle-aged individuals that may have impacted obesity-related health risks."

This is why fitness professional and nutrition expert Penny Weston says: "Too much alcohol can make you gain belly fat. Cutting back on it may reduce your waist size. I wouldn't say you need to give it up altogether, but limiting the amount you drink can definitely make a difference."

Penny Weston headshot
Penny Weston

Penny Weston is a fitness, wellness, and nutrition expert. She runs the award-winning Moddershall Oaks health spa and the MADE wellness center. Penny focuses on mental and physical health and is dedicated to demonstrating the impact on your happiness, energy levels, and mental state of making small changes.

4. Stay hydrated

Woman drinking water

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Does drinking water help you lose weight? While H2O itself is not the calorie-free solution to getting a slimmer waist — as highlighted in the journal Obesity — increasing your pre-meal water intake can help you feel fuller. 

"It's so easy to mistake dehydration for hunger and to consume calories your body doesn't need, when a glass of water might have done the trick," Weston explains. 

So how much water should you be drinking? "Aim for six to eight glasses a day — this has the added advantage of keeping all your bodily systems functioning well as well as keeping your skin looking great," Weston adds. 

5. Get enough sleep

As the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends, adults should sleep seven or more hours per night regularly to promote optimal health. But what happens if you sleep for less than this?

One study published in the journal Nutrients found that disturbed sleeping patterns can lead to excessive snacking, mainly on foods high in fat and carbohydrates. 

The same study also highlighted that sleep plays a role in weight loss, specifically fat loss, during calorie restriction. The participants were tasked with 14 days of calorie restriction, and they lost less fat when they spent 5.5 hours a day in bed compared to 8.5 hours a day.

6. Eat enough protein

Man making a protein shake

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As one of the most essential nutrients for your body, the benefits of protein range through everything from muscles to skin and hair. But this hero nutrient can also help you lose weight. 

Eleanor Thrupp, Resident Nutritionist at Innermost, explains: "Consuming a source of protein (meat, fish, eggs, legumes, tofu) with every meal can increase feelings of fullness, decrease hunger and reduce calorie intake — these are all factors that support weight loss."

Of course, it's always possible to swing too far in the other direction. If you're worried you are eating too much protein, this could cause some weight gain, alongside low mood and bad breath. 

Eleanor Thrupp headshot
Eleanor Thrupp

Eleanor Thrupp is the Resident Nutritionist at Innermost. She trained at the College of Naturopathic Medicine and qualified in 2021. Eleanor is passionate about empowering clients to restore optimum health and achieve their ultimate wellbeing through personal lifestyle strategies. Her perspective and understanding of nutrition was shaped by her father's cancer diagnosis, where she discovered the meaningful relationship between diet and the alleviation of symptoms. 

7. Switch to green tea

While drinking green tea won't help you shed pounds, Thrupp says that "green tea can also help boost your metabolism, it contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been known to promote weight loss."

This is backed up by a paper published in Preventive Nutrition and Food Science, where researchers concluded that consuming EGCG as a dietary supplement could control body fat content.

If you're not a fan of tea, it might be worth trying coffee and lemon for weight loss, although it's not clear how much of an effect this unusual combination can have. In the end, it might be best to use one of the best protein powders for weight loss for a tasty, muscle-building drink instead.

Becks Shepherd

Becks is a freelance journalist and writer with more than 7 years of experience in the field. She writes health and lifestyle content for a range of titles including Live Science, Top Ten Reviews, Tom’s Guide, Stylist, The Independent, and more. She also ghostwrites for a number of Physiotherapists and Osteopaths. 

Health has been a big part of Becks’ lifestyle since time began. When she’s not writing about the topic of health, she’s in the gym learning new compound exercises. And when she’s not in the gym, she’s most probably reading.