How To Get A Smaller Waist | Best Foods + Exercises

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // October 27, 2023

Wondering how to get a smaller waist? Or if it’s even possible? The answer is yes, you can—but it requires more than just diet pills or tummy shapers. Achieving a slimmer waist is done with a healthy diet, the best exercises, and hard work. 

You’ll find the best foods and specific exercises to help you reach your goals outlined below!

These steps can help you lose belly fat and shrink your waistline. Keep in mind, everyone is shaped a little differently, so completely changing the ratio of your waist to the rest of your body is not realistic.

Let’s look at the real, scientific way to shed overall body fat and tone your waist, using two things your body was designed to do: eat and move.

How To Lose Weight Around Your Waist

The tricky thing about choosing to lose weight around you waist, is that you can’t pre-program where fat loss happens specifically in your body.

You can still work towards your goal, but you’ll be working on nutrition and exercise that helps the entire body. When you improve your whole body health, your waist will adjust too.

And no, there are no “quick fix” fad diets or waist trainers that are going to magically change your waist size. A healthy diet and great exercise are the best way to get a smaller waist. 

Slow, stead progress is the name of the game when it comes to investing in your health.

How To Get a Smaller Waist Using Food

Try this healthy lunch option to lose belly fat.

What you choose to eat will make more of a difference in how your belly looks than anything else. In other words, it’s time to ditch the junk food.

It’s imperative that you are eating healthy, well-balanced meals that nourish your body without leaving junk behind that gets stored as excess fat in your belly! And while that concept seems fairly simple, we all know it’s definitely not easy.

Bad habits can creep in and eating food without thinking about the consequences is all too common. Here are some tips that might help you adjust to a new, healthier way of eating:

Plan Ahead For The Week

A big part of making poor eating choices is that you get hungry and simply eat what is easiest to grab. Of course, the easiest thing is often fast food. So take an hour on Saturday or Sunday and do a few simple things:

Anything you can do to prepare in advance is going to reward you with results. Spending a few hours on the weekend to plan for the week ahead can transform mealtime from stressful and fattening to simple and healthy.

You can even learn more with these 8 meal prepping tips for beginners.

It will also get you one step closer to that smaller waistline you’re after!

Eat In Balance

Protein, carbs, and healthy fats go together in meals for a reason. The combination keeps you balanced and satisfied. 

Try to eat them together every time you eat. If you are grabbing an apple for a snack, it might surprise you to know that pairing it with a tablespoon of peanut butter is BETTER.

By balancing the nutrients, you might take in more calories initially, but you end up eating less in the long run and your blood sugar will stay in balance, staving off cravings for the bad stuff.

This means you eat the good calories that get used up rather than stored in your belly. Storing less calories will help with weight gain!

So what does well-balanced and simple look like? Here are some ideas for good choices:

  • Piece of toast made from whole grains with peanut butter and ½ a banana.
  • Protein shake with fruit or veggie mixed in.
  • Veggie sticks and hummus.
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt with berries.
  • Try our Muffin in a Minute (it’s not what you think!)

None of these are complicated and each of them will satisfy your tummy for several hours.

Turn Down Unexpected Treats

We are often guilted into eating things that others offer us. 

It’s fine to splurge every so often and enjoy a treat, especially if you typically have a healthy balanced diet. But living in constant imbalance won’t give you the best results.

I bet if you added up the free doughnuts at the office, slices of co-worker birthday cake, or oversized samples at the big-box store, you’d be surprised at how often you eat something that wasn’t part of your original diet plan. Oh, and don’t forget all the sips and bites you take from your kid’s plate.

Be intentional about what you eat and, if needed, keep track for a week and write it all down as you take it in. This will give you a reality check.

Crash Diets Are Not Your Friend

Restrictive meals and diets can cause your metabolic rate to drop. Evidence shows how hard it is for adaptive thermogenesis to begin the more you cut down calorie intake. In reality, a tightly restrictive diet can be counterproductive.

Wondering how do you identify a crash diet? Any protocol that requires you to cut out a whole food group (also known as a macronutrient) or exercise excessively is worth questioning. We always advocate balance as the most important thing.

Eat Bloat-Blasting Foods

No one feels like their waist is trim and slim if they’re bloated. We recommend you add foods that help with bloating to your diet, and simultaneously avoid the ones that make it worse. 

I recommend steering clear of baked or processed foods. If it is salty food, definitely stay away if you want a flat tummy tomorrow. 

Add lots of leafy greens which are high in magnesium along with micro-nutrients for digestion. Here’s our list of debloat foods for some ideas.

Make Peace With Slow Steady Progress

Losing weight quickly is actually not what you should focus on. Working toward a safe rate of weight loss of 1 to 2 lbs per week will be much more likely to result in a permanent loss.

To make peace with slow weight loss, focus on small wins instead. Instead of “I must lose x lbs to achieve this bodyweight”, reset it to, “this week I’m going to walk 5 times and plan my meals every day.” It’s much more tangible. 

Going too hard too quickly could result in burnout. You want your lifestyle adjustments to stick and your slim waist to stick around too!

How To Get Smaller Waist Using Exercise

Woman whittling her waist line

Want to get a smaller waist? You need to move your body more, period. We’ve become a sedentary society and frankly, that’s the opposite of healthy. Exercise has become a chore rather than a part of everyday life.

When you think of belly fat your mind might picture doing a load of crunches, lower belly, and abdominal exercises. And while strengthening your abdominal muscles is important, there’s more to it than that. 

Here are some of the best ways to get a smaller waist using exercise:

Find A Form Of Cardio For Weight Loss

If you’re going to take off unwanted fat on your waist, calorie-burning cardio exercise is going to be your friend. 

I hear nay-sayers talking about the fact that cardio is a waste of time. As a post menopausal woman, I’m here to tell you burning extra calories throughout your day is your friend. 

But when you decide to get your move on, choose something you like to do. 

Too often we look at exercise as a punishment rather than another part of our daily routine. Our minds are a bit limited in what we view as calorie-burning cardio.

For example, there is absolutely no reason you should force yourself to become a runner if you hate running. Think of all the options to move your body: walking, volleyball, pickleball (link to our article) dancing, boxing, fitness classes, bicycling, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding. The list goes on.

You can even try TikTok’s cozy cardio trend, or get a walking pad under your desk!

Find things you actually enjoy and make sure to include them in your weekly plan for moving. Aim to get a cardio workout 4-5 days a week.

Try High-Intensity Interval Training

If you want that weight to come off quicker, try swapping in a HIIT workout, Tabata training, or another form of interval training twice a week. 

Intervals help you work harder, not longer. They make your body burn more calories, even after you’re done. Hiit workouts will shed the pounds faster, guaranteed.

Lift Weights for a Slim Waist

Okay, so here’s one that you should do even if you don’t like it. Why? Strength training matters. 

Yes, I just said cardio is good for calorie burning but strength training is the key to overall body composition and metabolism as we age.

Muscle is active tissue, meaning it burns calories even when you are sitting around. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest, meaning the better your metabolism works.

The good news is that, much like cardio, strength training comes in many forms. Lifting weights in the gym is one way. So is using resistance bandsmedicine balls, or even your own bodyweight. 

Find what works for you and incorporate total body strength work into your routine 2-3 times per week. By getting stronger overall, it will help reduce the size of your midsection. 

Work Your Core

We are talking about getting a thinner waist, aren’t we? 

So once you are eating well and moving more—which will take off the layer of fat covering your middle—it’s important to strengthen and tighten what’s underneath. And working your core is part of your overall strength program. 

If your ab muscles are particularly weak from lack of use, it’s time to have a few focused exercises you stay consistent with. 

Choosing specific moves that work your transverse abdominous, obliques, and rectus abdominus are all part of the picture. Try our free 10 Minute Weighted Abs Workout for a guided core workout you can do at home!

The Best Exercise Routine For Getting A Smaller Waist

Designed by trainer Chris Freytag, here are 7 great exercises that target your core and help you flatten your stomach. 

Combined with cardio and clean eating, this small waist workout will help whittle your waist—no diet pills or waist trainers are needed.

Perform 8-10 repetitions of each move below, except the Pilates 100, which you perform for a count of 100.

Pilates 100

The Pilates 100 is an exercise that uses the method of Pilates to strengthen the abdominal muscles while teaching your body stability and strengthening your lower back. Pilates is designed to strengthen the core by using gentle, but powerful but controlled movements.

How To Do A Pilates 100

  • Start lying on your back. Bring both knees into the chest to form a tabletop position. Bring your head, neck, and shoulder off the mat. Arms are long at the sides. Extend legs long and lower as far as possible while keeping the abs engaged and back connected to the mat in a slight imprint.
  • Pump the arms up and down in a quick, controlled manner while taking five short breaths in and five short breaths out (like sniffing in and puffing out). Be sure to keep your shoulders and neck relaxed and focus on your abdominal muscles doing all the work.

Oblique Crunch

An oblique crunch is a core exercise that strengthens your obliques as well as the other muscles of the core. Oblique muscles are crucial to core strength. They help you bend side to side, rotate right and left, and stabilize and protect your spine.

Your obliques have to work in harmony with all of your abdominal muscles for a tight tummy and a strong, stable back.

Do oblique crunches to work your waistline.

How To Do A Oblique Crunch

  • Start by lying on your side, forearm down, knees slightly bent.
  • Roll slightly back onto your glute, like your sitting on the back pocket of your blue jeans, and lift legs a few inches off the mat. Bring the top hand behind the head so the elbow is also bent.
  • Lift your legs up bringing your knees to your elbow while at the same time crunching your elbow toward your knee. Squeeze your waistline with each lift.

Bend Extend Ab Tuck

The bend extend ab tuck is an abdominal exercise that strengthens your lower abs and helps train your core stability to strengthen and protect your low back. Many ab moves focus either on lifting and lowering the upper body, or lifting and lower the legs in some way.

This move does both! It’s a challenging move, but if done consistently you will feel your abs grow stronger and pulled in tighter.

How To Do Bend Extend Ab Tuck

  • Start from a seated on mat with arms behind you, hands on the mat and fingers facing your backside. Sit back on your hands and lift up your feet off the mat keeping the knees bent.
  • Keep abs tight and press your legs out long and lower back down slightly. Feel your lower abdominals working, then push yourself back up and pull your knees in to return to your starting position.

Side Plank Scoop

The side plank scoop is a core body exercise that focuses on your obliques. It strengthens your abdominals and shoulders along with stretching your lower back.

Side planks are great for stabilizing your core body, but adding the scoop will add a rotation which requires your obliques to work making for a trimmer waistline and more sculpted mid-section overall.

You will only need about 8-10 repetitions to feel this move working your mid-section.

Perform a side plank scoop to whittle your middle.

How To Do A Side Plank Scoop

  • Begin in a full side plank position with right hand below shoulder, left arm reaching high above left shoulder and legs long. (Modify by placing bottom knee onto mat if needed)
  • Tighten abdominals and slowly scoop left arm under the body, following with your eyes until you see behind you.
  • Slowly reach left hand back to start position.
  • Repeat for desired number of repetitions and switch sides.

Double Leg Stretch

double leg stretch is a pilates exercise that strengthens your upper and lower abs. It helps stabilize your core and protect your low back. The double leg stretch teaches your body to stay stable while at the same time pulling the arms and legs out and in.

It’s a challenging move, but if done consistently you will feel your abs get stronger and tighter.

How To Do A Double Leg Stretch

  • Start lying on back with knees bent 90 degrees and arms lengthened alongside calves.  The low back should be pressed against the mat with head, neck and shoulders flexed up off the mat.
  • As you inhale, stretch your arms straight behind your head and legs straight to a diagonal position in front. As you exhale, circle arms around and back to legs while drawing knees back in to the 90 degree angle. Repeat for desired number of reps.

Side Plank

Side planks strengthen your obliques and entire core. They build strength in your shoulder and arm, and deep contraction in your oblique muscle and hip.

They give you great isometric core strength. Most ab work, such as abdominal crunches, is great for the rectus abdominus (the six-pack).

This is an important muscle to strengthen. However, your core is made of so many more muscles that require regular strengthening.

How To Do A Side Plank

  • Start lying on back with knees bent 90 degrees and arms lengthened alongside calves.  The low back should be pressed against the mat with head, neck and shoulders flexed up off the mat.
  • As you inhale, stretch your arms straight behind your head and legs straight to a diagonal position in front. As you exhale, circle arms around and back to legs while drawing knees back in to the 90 degree angle. Repeat for desired number of reps.


The bicycle is a classic core body exercise meant to strengthen all of your abdominal muscles. This includes your upper abs, lower abs and obliques.

Form is important with this one, because it is rarely done properly. Make sure to avoid pulling on your neck, twisting your elbow, or going so fast it’s impossible to engage the muscles necessary.

How To Do A Bicycle

  • Start lying on back with feet off the floor and legs in a tabletop position. Hands are behind the head and head, neck, and shoulders are flexed off the mat.
  • Bring one knee in and the opposite elbow over reaching towards it. Repeat on the other side in a criss cross motion working the obliques.

Getting a smaller waist is possible when you focus on the right nutrition and movement. When we eat better and exercise regularly, we can see amazing changes in our boy! 

Skip the quick tricks to shed pounds, and focus on a healthy, lasting weight loss strategy that will provide positive benefits for years to come.

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