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Cut down on belly fat by dropping carbohydrates

There was something of a carbohydrate craze a few years back. Most of it was started by Dr. Robert Atkins with his well-known "Atkins diet," a regimen that sharply curbed carb consumption and emphasized protein and fat intake. 

While there are still debates about whether the Atkins diet works, a new study found that reducing carbohydrate-heavy foods may be better for another reason - fewer carbs appears to mean less belly fat.

This isn't necessarily the same thing as a sharp weight loss, though. People who trim their belly fat by cutting out carbohydrates only need to drop a few pounds, in addition to changing their diet.

"These changes could help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease," said Dr. Barbara Gower, the principal author of the study.

The subjects who were evaluated were overweight, but generally healthy. One group was given a standard diet with lower fat content while their peers cut out carbs and ate a higher-fat diet.

Overall, restricting carbs led to a drop in belly fat that was 11 percent higher than was found in participants who engaged in the traditional weight-loss diet.

"For individuals willing to go on a weight-loss diet, a modest reduction in carbohydrate-containing foods may help them preferentially lose fat, rather than lean tissue," Gower explained. "The moderately reduced carbohydrate diet allows a variety of foods to meet personal preferences."

The Mayo Clinic states that high concentrations of carbohydrates are present in grains, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, legumes and sugars. The diet focuses on eating high quantities of meat, eggs, fish and non-starchy veggies. Dieters limit carb intake anywhere from 50 grams to 150 grams a day.  

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